Port Lavaca Bird Sanctuary
Return to the intersection of FM 1090 and TX 35 in Port Lavaca, and go east on TX 35 a short distance to the Port Lavaca Lighthouse Beach and Bird Sanctuary (exit to your right immediately before the bridge across Lavaca Bay).
Walk out on the Formosa Wetlands Walkway to the Alcoa Birding Tower. Look in the marsh that borders the walkway for Seaside Sparrow, Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow (in winter), and Clapper Rail. The bay may be viewed from the birding tower, and you should see Brown Pelican, and a variety of gulls and terns. If you have time, drive east across the Lavaca Bay bridge toward Point Comfort and then out onto the old causeway. Search the bay and spoil islands for Common Loon, Horned Grebe (uncommon), Common Goldeneye, American Oystercatcher, and Osprey.
Six Mile Park
At the intersection of TX 35 and FM 1090 travel north on FM 1090 approximately 6 miles, turn right onto Park Road, and follow the winding road until it ends at the shore of Lavaca Bay.
The 2-acre park is quiet on weekdays, offers a lighted pier, boat ramps, a marshland habitat, rip-rap shoreline, and a 350-foot natural sand beach. There you will spot Reddish Egret, shorebirds, terns, and other waterbirds.
From Port Lavaca travel west on TX 35 to the intersection with FM 2433. Turn left (south) and continue to the intersection with TX 238, then veer right on TX 238 and travel a short distance to the intersection with TX 316. Continue straight on TX 316 and follow the signs to Magnolia Beach and Indianola.
In winter, Sandhill Cranes, Snow Geese, and a variety of hawks (including White-tailed) abound. The rice paddies should be searched in spring for migrating shorebirds (including Wilson's Phalarope, Hudsonian Godwit, and Buff-breasted Sandpiper). The marshes near the end of the road (near Magnolia and the LaSalle Monument) are worth a look (or listen) in spring for rails, including Black. Wander from Magnolia Beach north along the bay, and search both the beach and bay for waterbirds (a number of interesting gulls have been discovered in this area, as well as the three species of scoters).
From Magnolia Beach, continue south along Lavaca Bay to Indianola Beach. Indianola was the most significant seaport in Texas until a series of devastating hurricanes in the late 19th century led to its abandonment. Turn right on FM 316, continue about .25 mile, then turn right onto Zimmerman Road. Cross the cattle guard and continue toward the Old Town Cemetery.
You will be at Magic Ridge, a shell ridge covered with one of the northernmost stands of native Tamaulipan scrub and now a 200-acre avian sanctuary owned by the Texas Ornithological Society. Walk along Zimmerman Road north to the gate and south back to the cattle guard, scanning the scrub and the wetlands that straddle the road. TOS requests that you bird from the pavement to protect the habitat and to avoid trespassing on private property. Watch for scrub birds such as Curve-billed and Long-billed thrashers, Bewick's Wren, and, in migration, hordes of songbirds and concentrations of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. The ponds along the road are productive: watch for whistling-ducks, Boat-tailed Grackle, various gulls and terns, Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret, and Wood Stork (late summer). Butterflying can be rewarding; watch for Salt Marsh and Obscure skippers, Great Southern White, and the diminutive Western Pygmy-Blue. Leaving Zimmerman Road, continue straight (south) to Powderhorn Lake and Indianola. Check the mouth of Powderhorn Lake for roosting waterbirds and American Oystercatcher.
Return to TX 316 to TX 238, turn left on TX 238 (toward Seadrift) and travel a short distance to FM 1289, then turn left (south) on FM 1289 toward Port O'Connor. Powderhorn Lake may be viewed from along FM 1289 where Coloma Creek crosses the highway and widens into Powderhorn Lake.
At low tide the mudflats here may be crawling with shorebirds. Also watch for flights of cranes and geese at sunrise.
Matagorda Island Wildlife Management Area
The Matagorda Island WMA consists of 56,688 acres of offshore barrier island and bayside marshes which is operated as a wildlife management area, jointly owned by the Texas General Land Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is cooperatively managed as the Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge and State Natural Area. No island on the Texas coast with public access is as unspoiled as Matagorda, and no visitor to Texas should leave without experiencing the breathtaking scenery and birdlife found here. The island is only accessible by boat. Over 320 species have been catalogued by TPWD and the USFWS, including White-tailed Hawk, Whooping Crane, Brown Pelican, Aplomado Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, and a host of shorebirds. The north end of the island (throughout the runway/headquarters complex, extending down the road system to the lighthouse and including the beach) is available for unsupervised wildlife viewing and hiking, during daylight hours only. Note that such activities are not allowed while public hunts are in progress. Wildlife viewing can be conducted either via bicycling or hiking. Overnight campers over the age of 16 are required to possess either a Limited Public Use Permit (LPU) or an Annual Public Hunting Lands Permit (APH). Permits can be purchased at any location that sells hunting or fishing licenses. Removing plants, animals, or artifacts is prohibited.
(979) 323-9553, (979) 323-9669
Seadrift / Swan Point
Travel west on TX 185 to Seadrift. Swan Point, near Seadrift, is an excellent location for viewing San Antonio Bay. To reach Swan Point follow the signs to the public boat ramp 1 mile east of Seadrift off of TX 185.
Scoters, Oldsquaw, and a variety of bay ducks have been seen in this area, so inspect the bay waters closely. Return to Seadrift, and drive along the bayfront. Numerous ducks, gulls, and terns may be found here.
Guadalupe Delta Wildlife Management Area
Travel north on TX 185 back to TX 35, then turn left (west) on TX 35. Continue until reaching the Guadalupe Delta WMA entrance and observation deck (the platform is located on the south side of TX 35, 1.3 miles west of the entrance).
The observation platform is open throughout the year, but the WMA itself is closed and is accessible only during scheduled events. The freshwater lake and marshes at Guadalupe Delta are seasonally swamped with flood waters as well as attendant waterfowl, shorebirds, and a variety of herons and egrets. Wood Storks may be seen here in late summer and early fall, and the marshes around Buffalo Lake usually swarm with herons, egrets, White-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, and Least Bittern (in summer). Listen for the bubbling trill of the Marsh Wren in late spring. The woodlands within Guadalupe Delta offer fine migrant birding.
(361) 576-0022 or (361) 790-0308 (regional office)