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Birding Hot Spots

 
"Where can I go birding, especially if I'm new to the area?" That's a question we all hear and have asked enough times ourselves. Following are some short descriptions and directions to a few of the dozens of wonderful birding spots in the Corpus Christi and Coastal Bend area. Pictures from each spot will eventually be added, to make identifying the sites a little easier (we hope). Meanwhile, here are a couple of area maps to get you started, along with directions below to each site.
 
NEW! Some sites are now hypertext linked to the descriptions below. The rest of the sites will be linked after I get the program that does this properly licensed!

 

    
* denotes Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail sites, designated by Central Texas Coast (CTC) Site number.
 
1. T-HEADS AND COLE PARK
Three man-made structures and a city park on the downtown bay front. Entrances from Shoreline and Ocean Drive. Best in the winter. Pelicans, cormorants, ducks, sandpipers.
 
2. BLUCHER PARK * CTC-71
Adjacent to the Central Library, entrance 100 block of Carrizo St. Major stopover for migrating passerines, hummingbirds. Guided bird walks each Saturday and Sunday in April (except Easter) 7:30 a.m.
 
3. TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY AT CORPUS CHRISTI * CTC-70
New hike and bike trail overlooks marshes and flats of Cayo del Oso. Enter from 6300 Ocean Drive; inquire at kiosk about parking. Follow white lamp posts around perimeter of island. Water birds; occasional passerines.
 
4. HANS A. SUTER WILDLIFE AREA * CTC-69
Nature park with boardwalk on the western shore of Cayo del Oso, entrance from Ennis Joslin Rd. Year-around display of shorebirds, white pelicans, roseate spoonbills, egrets, herons, gulls, terns. Very productive during migration and winter. Watch for osprey, peregrine falcon, crested caracara, reddish egret, black-necked stilt, black skimmers.
 
5. JOHN F. KENNEDY CAUSEWAY * CTC-65
Between Corpus Christi and North Padre Island. Traffic heavy; but firm, sandy highway shoulder is suitable for parking. Shorebirds, egrets, black skimmers. Rookery islands in vicinity of high bridge within good view of telescope during spring, early summer breeding season. Skimmers and least terns nest in protected areas along roadway.
 
6. PACKERY CHANNEL COUNTY PARK * CTC-62
Turn left with caution off Kennedy Causeway (Park Rd 22) 1 mile east of high bridge at Visitor Information Center. Oak mottes along channel and adjacent to the park very productive during migration, especially after spring squalls. Occasionally good birding along shoreline. Visitor Center open 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., 7 days except major holidays. Mailing address: 14252 South Padre Island Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78418.
 
7. GULF BEACHES OF MUSTANG & NORTH PADRE ISLANDS; PORT ARANSAS JETTY * CTC-58
Access roads to beaches well-marked from either Hwy 361 N (Park Rd 53) or Park Rd 22. Driving along beaches possible except during storms. Jetty is at gulf entrance to ship channel. Brown Pelicans, gulls, terns, waders, shorebirds, occasional rarities.
8. PORT ARANSAS BIRDING CENTER * Site CTC-57
Not to be missed! Take Cutoff Road west from McAlister Street at the light and follow signs. Boardwalk overlooks extensive marsh at sewage treatment plant. Ducks, roseate spoonbills, egrets, herons, gulls, terns, least bittern. Black-bellied whistling ducks nest. Watch for large alligator (now reports of up to 3, but please, don't feed the 'gators), nutria. Guided bird walks Wednesdays at 9:00 a.m. Colorful display of native shrubs, wild flowers at entrance. Check bulletin board at entrance for up-to-date information or call 1-800-452-0278, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. weekdays, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Saturdays.
8B. PORT ARANSAS WETLANDS PARK * Site CTC-59
The newest addition to the Port Aransas birding community. Located just south of the Port Aransas Avenue G traffic light on Mustang Island on Highway 361 (also still known to the locals as Park Road 53). Ducks, Roseate Spoonbills, egrets, herons, gulls, terns, various raptors. Large shallow wetlands fueled by local rain and periodic releases from the water treatment plant. Still undergoing development. Listed as Site 59 on the Great Texas Birding Trail.
9. MUSTANG ISLAND STATE PARK * CTC-60
Entrance from Hwy 361 N (Park Rd. 53) 5 miles from South Padre Island Drive. Birding possible on Gulf beach all the way to Port Aransas, in dunes and fields, and along eastern shore of Corpus Christi Bay. Tourist facilities, entrance fee, checklist. Open 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
10. PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE AND BIRD ISLAND BASIN * CTC-63
Access road well marked along Park Rd 22. Bird Island Basin is to the right of main road. When wet, the marshes along this road are very good - gallinules, grebes, waders, etc. At the boat basin, densely packed rookery islands visible through scopes during nesting season. Shorelines of Laguna Madre and Gulf of Mexico good birding. Sparrows, hawks on upland sites in winter; ducks, wading birds, shore birds in fresh water ponds along main road. Visitor Center open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Memorial Day to Labor Day, then 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., 7 days. Facilities, checklist.
11. INDIAN POINT PARK and SUNSET LAKE * CTC-73
At the north end of Nueces Bay Causeway (Hwy 181), follow signs to Indian Point Park. Boardwalks overlook ponds, marshes and bay front. Migrants, skimmers, herons, gulls, terns, rails. Facilities.
12. TULE LAKE
Natural lake off the 7200 blk of Up River Rd. Access difficult. Take Exit 5 from Interstate Highway 37 N. Turn right on Corn Products Rd. to Up River Rd. Left 1.2 mi. Park with care on shoulder of road. Shorebirds, ducks, pelicans, spoonbills, egrets, herons, gulls, terns.
13. HILLTOP NATURE AREA * CTC-76
11425 Leopard St., across from County Building and 3 mi. west of Violet Rd. Paved hiking trail around perimeter of extensive native brush habitat. Migratory and resident species. Open during daylight hours.
14. POLLYWOG POND * CTC-77
Isolated, heavily wooded area off Up River Rd. at Sharpsburg Rd. Take Exit 13 from Interstate Highway 37 N. Turn right on Callicoatte Rd., then left on Up River Rd. .9 mi. to entrance on right. Small, inconspicuous sign. Park at gate and walk diked area of water settling ponds. Excellent during migration and winter. Water birds, songbirds, migrants.
14A. NUECES RIVER PARK (not marked on map)
Take Exit 16 from Interstate 37-N. River woods across river and adjacent to park. Facilities; open 9-5, 7 days/week.
 
15. CORPUS CHRISTI BOTANICAL GARDENS * CTC-67
8545 S. Staples St. Approach and entrance well-marked. Birding along Oso Creek on both sides of South Staples Street. Ornamental flowering plants attract and hold hummingbirds and butterflies. Butterfly and birding trail leads to overlook at pond holding ducks, grebes, shorebirds. Allow time to explore the plant life as well as birds. Facilities, fee, checklist. Open 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Tuesday - Sunday.
  
16. FRED JONES NATURE SANCTUARY * CTC-74
Privately maintained nature sanctuary. Take Moore Ave (FM 893) west of Portland 6 mi. Turn left on County Rd 69 E. .6 mile. On left a sign marks the entrance. Park on east side of road and walk in. Please sign the guest register. Native plants, wildflowers; birding good year around. Restroom.
 
17. PELAGIC TRIPS
Contact commercial boat facilities in Port Aransas for scheduled or charter trips or call local Hotline..
 
18. ROCKPORT AND SURROUNDING AREA
For Birder's Guide contact Rockport/Fulton Area Chamber of Commerce, 404 Broadway, P.O. Box 1005, Rockport, TX 78382; 1-800-242-0071 (TX), 1-800-826-6441 (U.S.)
 
19. GOOSE ISLAND STATE PARK * CTC-48
Off Hwy 35 just north of Copano Bay Causeway. Good birding in oak habitat and along water's edge. Facilities, fee, checklist.
 
20. ARANSAS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE * CTC-37
About 25 miles north of Rockport on Hwy 35. Turn right on FM 774, 7 mi. to FM 2040. Turn right, then approx. 7 mi. to Refuge headquarters. Winter home of Whooping and Sandhill cranes, ducks, geese, shorebirds, songbirds, hawks, sparrows. Allow sufficient time to explore oak and mesquite brush, marshes, fields, and shoreline for a variety of birds. Open sunrise to sunset. Facilities, checklist, mosquitoes.
 
21. BAYSIDE MARSHES * CTC-43
Between Gregory and Refugio. From Hwy 35 turn onto FM 136, 10 miles to extensive marshes and mud flats of Copano Bay.
 
22. HAZEL BAZEMORE COUNTY PARK * CTC-78
Brushy, wooded park on the Nueces River. Entrance from Hwy 624, .5 mi. west of Hwy. 77 S. Inconspicuous sign on the right at County Rd. 69 marks the way. Nature Trail to the east, photographers' blind at Nature Pond to the west. Resident, migrating, and wintering birds. Bluebirds during the winter; owls, paraque, warblers and other passerines, hummingbirds, shorebirds. Good viewing of spring and fall hawk migrations. Facilities, checklist. Open 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
 
23. JOHN J. SABLATURA COUNTY PARK * CTC-84
On Hwy 44 1 mile west of Banquete. Woodsy park on Agua Dulce Creek; open 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Thrashers, Green Jays, wintering Bluebirds, Chipping Sparrows. Facilities.
 
24. WRIGHT RANCH POND
Take Hwy. 624 to blinking light on Hwy.66. Turn right .9 mi. and park on improved pullout on right just before bridge. Wooded pond on private ranch. Egrets, herons, black-bellied whistling ducks, warblers, grebes, anhingas, green jays, kiskadees, cormorants. Best mornings and evenings. Watch for alligators in pond.
 
25. LAKE CORPUS CHRISTI STATE PARK and CITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY * CTC-80 AND CTC-79.  Take Exit 34 from IH-37 N. then Hwy 359 W for 5.5 miles. Turn right on Park Rd 25 N. Wildlife Sanctuary on left. Park along road and walk in. Stay on mowed paths; poison ivy is prevalent. Isolated, wooded, brushy area. Continue on Park Rd. 25 N to State Park entrance. Swallows nest at dam; cactus wrens, thrashers, verdins, hawks, owls, occasional western species. Park fee, facilities, checklist. Open 5:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. For a more leisurely and scenic route take Hwy. 624, turn right at Hwy. 666, then left on FM 3088 W. At FM 70 turn right and follow to Sandia. Turn right at Hwy. 359, then 2 mi. to Park Rd. 25 N. Watch for bluebirds, hawks, wildflowers.
 
26. PERNITAS POINT
For the adventurous birder. From FM 359 take FM 534 N west of Mathis, turn right on FM 369 for 3 mi. Explore quiet, brushy roads for wintering sparrows, White-winged doves, pyrrhuloxia, green jays, cactus wrens, lesser nighthawk, Bewick's wren, verdin, Couch's kingbird, kiskadees, occasional Audubon's oriole.
 
27. CHOKE CANYON STATE PARK * CTC-82
Take Exit 69 from IH-37 N. Turn left onto FM 72, follow signs to entrance. Open 8-5; facilities, checklist. South Shore and Calliham entrances. Nesting swallows; turkey, caracara, titmice, thrashers, wrens.
 
28. KINGSVILLE AND SURROUNDING AREA
Contact Tourist Information Bureau, Hwy 77 and Corral, or John E. Conner Museum, Texas A&M-Kingsville Campus, W. Santa Gertrudis St. in Kingsville for "Wildlife Guide of Kleberg County," prepared by Kingsville Bird and Wildlife Club. 50 cents.
 
29. RIO GRANDE VALLEY
Three hour drive via Hwy. 77. Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary; Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge; Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge; Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park. Contact Brownsville Convention and Visitors' Bureau for Birder's Guide, P.O. Box 4697, Brownsville TX 78523. 1-800-626-2639.
 
 

Information and maps on this page were excerpted from the Birding the Corpus Christi Area brochure, compiled by the Audubon Outdoor Club of Corpus Christi and the Corpus Christi Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Brochures are available on request at Texas Tourist Bureau Visitors Centers in the Coastal Bend:

Shoreline Visitors Information Center:
          1201 North Shoreline
          CC, TX 78401
          T:  512-881-1888

 

Padre Island Visitors Information Center
         14252 South Padre Island Drive
          CC, TX 78418
          T: 512-949-8743

 
Nueces River Visitors Information Center:
          6667 Highway 77
          CC, TX 78410
          T: 512-241-1464
 

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