If you are interested in doing a week long birding trip along the middle to upper Texas Gulf Coast, the following itinerary might be of interest to you. I have done these trips over many years and can assure you that you will see many great species. If you work hard to find birds, you can expect to see over one hundred species every day. The key to hitting the century mark is to visit as many different habitats as you can each day. Habitats include bays, estuaries, tidal flats, beaches, wood and prairies. Also, always check the sky to look for flying birds.
I suggest that you first visit Corpus Christi where the first stop would be Blucher Park near the uptown business area. This wooded park/nature area is a great migrant trap for warblers, vireos, flycatchers, buntings, hummingbirds, grosbeaks and orioles. Look for a Chuck-wills-widow in the brush. Next stop should be Hans A. Sutter Park near the Naval Air Station on Oso Bay. Take the board walk out in the marshy area to see ducks, shorebirds, large waders and cormorants. Check the wooded area near the entrance for songbirds.
Take Padre Island Causeway to Mustang Island and head north to Port Aransas, looking for gulls and other water birds along the way. Check the big blue water tower for a Peregrine Falcon. The first stop should be the waste water treatment plant, also known as Port Aransas Birding Center. A great board walk will take you out into one of the fresh water treatment ponds to look for ducks, bitterns, moorhens, waders, cormorants and terns. Only a few blocks towards the ferry is Paradise Pond where boardwalks give you close-up looks for migrating songbirds in the trees. The best features to watch are the drip systems to see bird coming for a bath or drink. If you have time, go to the jetty area for sea birds and shore birds up close.
Take the ferry to the mainland and head up the coast toward Galveston. Many venues occur along the way, including Rockport, Goose Island State Park, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, and Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary in Surfside near Freeport. In Galveston visit Galveston Island State Park and the nature area in the Lafitte’s Cove subdivision off Stewart Road for migrating songbirds. Many great birding spots occur along Stewart Road to see a variety of bird species.
From Galveston take the ferry to Bolivar Peninsular where the first stop will be the Houston Audubon Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary. Look for signs to guide you. The tidal flat and beach areas are the premier place to observe shorebirds, waders and seabirds on the Texas coast. High tide is the best time to visit as the birds are closer to observe. A telescope is a must item to peruse the thousands of birds resting on the mud flats.
The next stop is the small town of High Island whose elevation was caused by a salt dome rising beneath it. High Island is the mecca for birders in the spring migration season. Numerous venues have been created by the Houston Audubon Society – Smith Woods and Boy Scout Woods are the most popular birding spots. A warning is that birding here can be poor when a strong south wind is blowing as birds flyover without stopping. When the wind is out of the north, or storms are in the area, birding can be a dream come true.
The final recommended stops would be Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge and White Memorial Park, a small park near the intersection of Interstate 10 and Texas Highway 61. Both of these venues are located on the mainland side of Galveston Bay. The wildlife refuge is a great place to see bitterns, coastal sparrows, rails, shorebirds and migrant songbirds. The park features a woodland habitat with many East Texas birds present.
If you are interested in following my recommended route, I would suggest getting copies of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail maps for the central and upper coast. These excellent maps will fill in the many places I did not have space to cover. Good luck in finding many great Texas birds.