Our birding experts organized a trip on April 28, 2021 that gave our members a great adventure into the world of coastal bird wildlife viewing! Fred Lyons and Phillip Hight guided a group through the Houston Audubon Society – High Island Sanctuaries that serve as a landing for birds traveling across the ocean to Texas. The sanctuaries include multiple named areas. On this trip the focus was on two of those areas: Boy Scout Woods, which contains extensive boardwalks, and Smith Oaks, the location of a rookery.
Fred Lyons writes, “We arrived at Boy Scout Woods in High Island at 10:00. Registered at the kiosk and paid fees, $8 per person or $30 for an annual pass. We took a short walk through the woods and discussed bird migration and the importance of sanctuaries like High Island as rest areas for birds after their 600 mile flight across the Gulf of Mexico. We also discussed bird watching and some techniques to help. We moved to Smith Oaks, a larger area which includes a new Canopy Walk and the Rookery. The Rookery has a series of observation points which are close to the nesting sites and make it easy to see the birds. At the Rookery there are nesting Roseate Spoonbills, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Cormorants and Grackles. At this time of year the Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets have young birds in the nests. The Spoonbills are later, and only have eggs now. We had a nice time watching the activity at the Rookery. There is always something going on. The new Canopy Walk was a thrill because the warblers tend to move in the tops of the trees. Usually you are on the ground looking up. The Canopy Walk puts you up at their level, so you are nose to beak with the birds. Our last stop was at Rollover Pass on the coast. It was windy and the tide was in, so that reduced the birds we saw. However, we still saw Pelicans, Skimmers, Gulls, a variety of Terns including the Least Tern and the Black Tern, and other shore birds. A good time was had by all, and we look forward to future trips.”
Thanks so much to our volunteers who made this possible! Don’t forget, you can still go birding with these experts right here in the Pineywoods! The 2nd Saturday of the month is birding day at Martin Dies Jr. State Park. Meet at the Walnut Ridge Unit observation bridge at 8am with your binoculars and camera. Next one is May 8th. Fred says, “Currently we are still in the throes of spring migration, so there are a lot of interesting birds to be seen, including warblers, vireos, thrushes and others, as well as indigo buntings, tanagers, water birds, black bellied whistling ducks and more. Phillip has identified a Red Shouldered Hawk nest at the Cherokee Unit which is easy to see. This is an opportunity for hours for either service or AT, depending on what you need.” Come out and join us!
To find out more about the Houston Audubon Society High Island Sanctuaries: