Brush Country Loop
Wesley Seale Dam & Corpus Christi WMA
Proceed west on FM 624 to the intersection with FM 666, then turn right (north) on FM 666 and continue to Mathis and the intersection with TX 359. Turn left (southwest) on TX 359, and proceed to Park Road 25. Turn right, and after a short distance (0.1 miles), park at the entrance to the City of Corpus Christi Wildlife Sanctuary. The nature trail entrance is to your left. The trail enters a rather dense elm-hackberry forest where a number of tropical species may be found. Continue on Park Road 25 north for 0.5 miles, and park at the north end of Wesley Seale Dam (on your left). Walk along the dam to the Nueces River. The pools at the base of the dam often attract waterfowl (Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, American Wigeon), and for several years Black Phoebes have wintered along the rocks here. When reaching the dam walk the trails into the woods that extend along the river. Watch for Osprey flying down the river from the dam, and always look and listen for migrant landbirds in the trees.
Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Returning to Park Road 25, travel north for 0.8 miles to the entrance to the park. The park is generally dry chaparral (unlike the woodlands below the dam, which are considerably more humid), and scrub species such as Curve-billed Thrasher, Greater Roadrunner, and Pyrrhuloxia are quite common. Check the dry grassy areas in late spring for singing Cassin's Sparrow. Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks are usually found on the lake, and in winter a number of additional waterfowl species may appear.
(361) 547-2635 www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lake-corpus-christi
Fort Lipantitlan State Historic Park
Return on Park Road 25 to the intersection with TX 359, turn right (southwest) and continue across the Nueces River. Immediately after crossing turn right at the sign for Camp Shawondasse, and continue approximately 0.5 miles to the south end of Wesley Seale Dam. Park and walk down to the river below the dam. Look for bitterns, Common Yellowthroat, and Marsh Wren in the marsh, and similar birds in the woodlands as those seen at the previous two sites. Return to TX 359 and listen for Great Kiskadee and Green Jay in the woods along the river. Turn right on TX 359 and proceed west to Sandia. Turn left (south) on FM 70 in Sandia, and continue until making an abrupt right. Drive for a short distance (approximately 2.5 miles) and turn left on CR 58. This road will eventually curve to the left, and continue straight to the entrance to Fort Lipantitlan State Historic Site (at the end of CR 101). Search the ancient mesquites and surrounding brush for Greater Roadrunner, Curve-billed Thrasher, Vermilion Flycatcher, and Lark Sparrow. Eastern Bluebirds may be found in winter along the barbed-wire fences near the entrance.
(361) 547-2635 www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lipantitlan
Knolle Farm & Rnach Bed Barn & Breakfast
Return to FM 70 and turn right, heading back to Sandia. At the 90-degree turn in the road where FM 90 heads back to town, the farm and ranch will be on your right. A number of paths lead to wetlands, river and lake spots (with canoes and kayaks available), and South Texas brushlands offering views of Lark Buntings, Lark Sparrows, Green Jays, Eastern Bluebirds, Vermilion Flycatchers, Roseate Spoonbills, herons, geese, Sandhill Cranes, ducks, Wood Storks, and more.
(361) 547-2546 www.knolle.com
Choke Canyon State Park
Head down FM 70 / CR 103 about 2.5 miles to where it curves to the left; continue straight ahead on CR 360 toward the Nueces River. This narrow lane winds through picturesque Nueces bottomland country, and eventually curves back northwest to
FM 1540. Turn left on FM 1540, and continue to the intersection with FM 70. Turn right and return to Sandia. As you drive these backroads look for Lark Bunting and a wealth of sparrows and Sandhill Cranes feeding in the pastures in the winter, Crested Caracara and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in the summer. From Sandia continue southwest on TX 359 to the intersection with FM 534. Turn right on FM 534 and head north toward Dinero. Travel a short distance and turn right on the road marked _Pernitas Point' (approximately 5 miles). Bordering this road are excellent tracts of dry chaparral habitat, and species such as Lesser Nighthawk, Verdin, Cassin's Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, and House Finch inhabit the brush and open slopes. Buff-bellied Hummingbird and Groove-billed Ani may be seen around residences in the community of Pernitas Point. Return to FM 534, and continue to Dinero (look for Harris's Hawk along the way). Continue on FM 534 until reaching I-37, then turn north on the freeway toward San Antonio. Exit I-37 at TX 72, and proceed west to Three Rivers. Continue west on TX 72 from Three Rivers to Choke Canyon State Park. Both the Calliham and South Shore units of this park offer exemplary birding opportunities. In the Calliham Unit, look for Wild Turkey around the campsites, Bell's Vireo nesting in the brush in summer, and Audubon's and Bullock's orioles in the mesquite. Pauraque may be heard at dawn and dusk, and Olive Sparrows abound in the thickets. Look for nesting Cave Swallows in summer under the eaves of the picnic shelters and Vermilion Flycatchers perched around the lake. A variety of hummingbirds have been seen here in winter around flowering tree tobacco (including Anna's).
(361) 786-3868 www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/choke-canyon
From Three Rivers, travel south on TX 281 to Alice. Entering Alice on US 281 (still north of the city), turn left (east) on FM 3376 (Commerce Road). Proceed to North Texas Boulevard (1.5 miles), turn left (north) and continue 0.5 miles to Lake Findley. Lake Findley has been developed into a multi-purpose facility. Considerable brush remains on adjacent land and the scrub bordering the entrance road may offer rewarding birding. A number of South Texas species are resident here, including Least Grebe (look along the banks of the lake), Groove-billed Ani, Great Kiskadee, and Green Jay. Sprague's Pipit winters in the short grass fields, and Grasshopper Sparrow breeds in the taller grasslands.
John J. Sablatura Nature Park
Proceed east from Alice on TX 44 back toward Corpus Christi. Sablatura Nature Park is located on TX 44 between Agua Dulce and Banquette (watch for the signs). This small wooded park, situated on Agua Dulce Creek, may be lively in migration. Depending upon the weather, check for a variety of migrant landbirds attracted to this isolated site (most of the surrounding habitat has been converted to cotton fields). A bit of brush remains immediately adjacent to the park, so search the scrub for representative chaparral birds. Sablatura Park is always worth a short stop as you make your way to Kingsville from Choke Canyon.