Texas Birding Trail
Oct 27, 2009
|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!