2009 Spring 2 Fall travel blog

S. Padre Island Birding and Nature Center

climbing to the observation deck

view S/W from the observation deck

view straight west over the Laguna Madre

view N/W - this is the brackish section

the treatment facility and substation next door

view east toward the gulf shore

boardwalk over the saltwater side - the egrets and ibises stand out

egret from the boardwalk


they feed in mud or very shallow water

this is more like it

I know your down there!

but it keeps going deeper

great blue heron

no poking around in the mud for this guy

you wouldn't catch me dead doing that!

gives me the creeps just thinking about it

those white birds have no dignity

another 'mud poker'

kind of a cute one though


Yikes! What are those things up there?

a heron of a different color

three colors to be exact

hence the name

a tri-colored heron

this reddish egret thinks he's a rock star

preens like one too


ready for his next gig


an observation deck at the edge of the Laguna Madre

the water is shallow and full of fish - some big

some small

not to mention a crab or two

blue crab

on the signpost a kingfisher

a patient little guy

until this egret flies in

and evicts him from the post

great blue heron checking out the next door substation



nothing to eat over there - and the wires tingle your feet!

red winged blackbird

a visitor consults her guidebook on alligators

while the alligator waits patiently

hoping she'll come down and try to pet him - heh heh!

over the Laguna the pelicans are putting on a show

flying in formation

until someone sees something good to eat

heron on the wing

flying past the Convention Center

he picks up a wingman

this is what ibises do for fun when they're not poking around...

a curlew

that beak is made for mud poking too

so let's get started

hey guys - look what I found in the mud!

meanwhile back at the alligator - a great blue heron has come...

a handsome bird

hmm - what's that white bird out there?

looks like an egret - and he's not poking in the mud!

wonder if I could pass for an egret!

tri colored heron on the rail

but not for long


a roseate spoonbill flies in



the take off

the landing

checking out the hunting over here

looks like it was a good move

spoonbills and a small heron






a Waylon mural

in the freshwater area there were migrating songbirds


this little guy was so photogenic




this guy has found something interesting



there are even turtles here


but they'd better watch out

because there's another alligator here


here's an interesting pair of pictures




egret and alligator

here birdy birdy!

they say that birds of a feather stick together

but the following pictures show that birds also like a variety of...


and remember these are wild birds and not in an enclosure of...




they freely choose to interact like this

people should be so cool about it!


a stilt

on one leg

back on two but leaning

this is always a good way to catch yourself



and some final photos to wrap up a perfect day







a last view of the center

two last songbirds


and a lizard

showing off!

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

(MP4 - 5.77 MB)

Nature Center Overview

(MP4 - 1.54 MB)

white ibises

(MP4 - 3.16 MB)

White Ibises

(MP4 - 2.84 MB)

Blue Heron

(MP4 - 1.77 MB)

a tri colored heron

(MP4 - 3.18 MB)

Tri Colored Heron

(MP4 - 2.85 MB)

Tri Colored Heron - Talking

(MP4 - 975 K)

Tri Colored Heron - Talking

(MP4 - 3.21 MB)

Redish Egret

(MP4 - 2.10 MB)

Grackle - Grackleing

A major gulf coast attraction - Tuesday, October 27

The east coast of Texas is a birding destination. From all over the world birders come to see the migrations that pass this way each spring and fall. From humming birds and warblers, to geese and cranes, the variety of sizes, shapes and colors is stunning. If you’re not a nature lover when you get here, you’re bound to be one by the time you leave.

Signs along the highway proclaim this the Great Texas Coast Birding Trail, and beside the wildlife refuges there are many other vantage points from which to see the birds. One of these is the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, and this was our destination for today.

The center is headquartered in a big yellow building that is stylishly designed and is brand new. It has only been open for a little over a month. The old center had a boardwalk out to the water of the Laguna Madre, and the new center has added to that so there is now nearly a mile of boardwalks that overlook several distinct habitats. One is saltwater, another is brackish water, and a third is freshwater. The freshwater used for dilution is introduced from a wastewater treatment plant adjacent to the center.

The Visitor Center has some good exhibits inside, and a tower with an observation deck outside, where you can look out over the whole layout and see for miles up and down the island. But the real experience starts when you go out on the boardwalk. It is there you see the birds and they are the star attraction.

In looking at these photographs please bear in mind that while the center is at the edge of town and is located next to a large treatment plant and a towering electric substation, the birds are wild and completely free. This is not a zoo or an aviary. Habitat is created that will hopefully attract the wild birds, but nothing is done to provide food or shelter or to interfere in any way with their normal habits and behavior.

Where possible we have tried to identify the ones we recognize, and if we are wrong on any of our identifications we apologize to birds and to the real birders out there. We hope you enjoy looking at these photographs as much as we enjoyed taking them. You will note that the center also has several resident alligators.

While we were looking at the freshwater section, which attracts a lot of the migratory songbirds, we met a local couple named Scarlet and George. They are involved in many activities on the island, and in Port Isabel across the Laguna, that have to do with conservation and nature education. They own and operate the Sealife Center in Port Isabel, and they conduct dolphin tours on their boat. We got their card and number and told them we would be very interested in a dolphin tour tomorrow if they go out. We agreed to call them in the morning and set up a time.

We ended the day with a good shrimp and sea bass dinner, and we spent the night at a KOA with a great view of the Laguna. Life doesn’t get much better than this!

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