The birding sites featured below on this page are courtesy of CBAS member Jamie Ritter. Her book, Birding Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend, contains information on and directions to 78 different birding sites in our area. The sites featured are four fruitful sites for birding in the Fall.
HAZEL BAZEMORE COUNTY PARK (Important Bird Area)
Habitats: Transitional riparian forest, freshwater pond, Tamaulipan thorn scrub.
Best birds in Fall: Vermillion Flycatcher (Fall and Winter), Rufous Hummingbird (Fall and Winter).
Resident birds: Least Grebe, Reddish Egret, White-face ibis, White-tipped Dove, Groove-billed Ani, Common Pauraque, Bull-bellied Hummingbird, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, Couch�s Kingbird, Green Jay, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Cassin�s Sparrow.
Directions: If you are coming from Interstate 37 North, take Exit 14 to US Highway 77. Take the first exit to Farm-to-Market Road 624. Travel north on FM 624 for 0.8 mile. After you pass the Calallen football stadium, turn right on County Road 69. Travel � mile to the park entrance. The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Tips: No other site in the United States can come close to listing the number of hawks or the number of species seen at Hazel Bazemore. The majority of the hawks are Broad-winged. Since the inception of the Hazel Bazemore Hawk Watch, 30 species have been seen at this site. During the eight-day peak in September, an average of 575,000 raptors is usually counted. A Hawk Watch platform built in 2007 provides comfortable surroundings for watching raptors but bring a lawn chair if you go on a fall weekend.
NORTH BAY SANCTUARY (CBAS sanctuary)
Habitats: Tamaulipan scrubland, Tamaulipan thorn scrub, freshwater pond.
Resident Birds: Least Grebe, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, White-faced Ibis, Groove-billed Ani, Common Pauraque, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Couch�s Kingbird, Green Jay, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow.
Directions: Leave Corpus Christi on US Highway 181 North/Highway 35 and continue through Portland. The two highways split in Gregory. Take Highway 35 east toward Aransas Pass. At 4.5 miles after the split, look for the sign for County Road 93. Turn left. Once you turn, you will notice that you are actually on County Road 4343 (McCampbell Road). Continue on this narrow, curvy road for 4 miles. The road dead-ends. Turn right onto County Road 1432 (Johanson Road) and proceed for 1 mile. Go slowly, because the road abruptly turns into a gravel road. The North Bay Sanctuary is on the left at the end of the road. There is room to park along the roadside by the gate.
Tips: Watch the utility lines near the entrance for flycatcher and raptors. Once inside the gate of this 75 acre sanctuary, take the path to the right through the thorn scrub to the newly restored pond and wetlands habitat. You can also go straight ahead � mile to the observation tower. The viewing tower overlooks a freshwater pond on the adjoining Copano Ranch, a private, working ranch that stretches all the way to Copano Bay.
LEONABELLE TURNBULL BIRDING CENTER
(formerly Port Aransas Birding Center)
Resident Birds: Least Grebe, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, White-tailed Hawk, White-faced Ibis, Little Blue Heron, Roseate Spoonbill, Clapper Rail, Seaside Sparrow.
Directions: There are two interesting ways to get to Port Aransas, each way involves birding as you go. First you can come from Aransas Pass on Highway 361 and continue east toward Port Aransas. Highway 361, at this point, is the 4-mile Dale Miller Causeway, crossing several islands and open water. If you continue on Highway 361, you come to the free ferry to Port Aransas. During Spring Break and Summer, the wait for the ferry can be long. Once off the ferry, you are on Cotter Avenue. At the first stoplight, turn right onto Cut-off Road. After about 5 blocks you come to a stop sign with Ross Avenue to your right at an extreme angle, almost a U-turn. The Birding Center is on the right, 0.6 mile down Ross Avenue. A trolley stop is near the entrance to the parking lot at the Birding Center.
Another way to come into Port Aransas is to travel north up Padre Island from Corpus Christi on Highway 361. This highway leave Corpus Christi and come up Padre Island to Mustang Island.
Tips: The utility poles on the bay side of the road are a reliable place to see White-tailed Hawks. If you come into Port Aransas by this way, look for Avenue G at the first stoplight in town. Take a left. After about 4 blocks, Avenue G curves onto Cut-off Road, but you will want to continue straight onto Ross Avenue and the birding Center. A sign clearly marks the way.
At the end of a garden walk is a boardwalk out into the cattails. This marsh is associated with the effluent from the wastewater plant. About halfway down the boardwalk is a two-level observation deck, and another lookout is located at the end of the walk. These give a good view of the water and the nearby mudflats.
In fall and winter, many species of ducks, cormorants, rails, American Avocets and Black-necked Stilts show up here, along with wading birds and gulls and terns. Red-winged Blackbirds, and Swamp Sparrows live in the cattails. Take your time and enjoy the center.
GOLIAD STATE PARK
Habitats: Tall riparian forest, Tamaulipan scrubland, prairie.
Resident Birds: Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Common Pauraque, Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow. Fall Birds include Vermillion Flycatcher and Sprague�s Pipit.
Directions: From Corpus Christi, take Interstate 37 north to the US Highway 77 exit. Travel north 40 miles on US 77 to Refugio, then take US Highway 183 for 27 miles to Goliad. The first large structure you encounter on the right upon entering Goliad is the Presidio La Bahia historic mission. You will cross the San Antonio River. On the left is the entrance to Goliad State Park. There is an entrance fee and the park is open from 7 am to 10 pm.
Tips: Bird the Aranama Nature Trail (0.3 mile loop) or the River Trail (1 mile). Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatchers, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, White-eyed and Red-eyed or Solitary Vireos, and Spotted Towhees can be seen here.