- Kingsville Visitor Center, (361) 592-8516 or (800) 333-5032, www.kingsvilletexas.com
- Bishop Chamber of Commerce, (361) 584-2214, www.bishoptx.com
Bishop City Park
Continue east on TX 44 to the intersection with US 77, turn right (south) and proceed toward Kingsville. When arriving in Bishop continue on Business 77 until reaching the intersection with Joyce. Bishop City Park is located on your left (look for the ballfields). The City of Bishop is constructing a 0.8-mile nature trail along Caretta Creek, and this greenbelt will connect with Bishop Park at its southeast corner. When finished, the trail will cross the existing creek, and four observation platforms for birding are planned as well. At present there is a 0.6-mile hiking trail around a 9.1-acre lake at the park, and birds such as Vermilion Flycatcher should be regular here in winter. Species seen around the Bishop Park development include Least Grebe, Harris's Hawk, White-tailed Hawk, Groove-billed Ani, Pauraque, Great Kiskadee, Green Jay, Long-billed Thrasher, Pyrrhuloxia, Olive Sparrow, Hooded Oriole, and Lesser Goldfinch.
Santa Gertrudis Creek
Continue south on Business 77 to Kingsville. Turn right (west) on TX 141, and continue west to the crossing with Santa Gertrudis Creek. Santa Gertrudis Creek forms a rather sizable pool at this juncture with TX 141, and the surrounding trees and brush draw a variety of South Texas species such as Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, Green Jay, Pyrrhuloxia, and Audubon's Oriole. In an otherwise arid landscape, this lush oasis also attracts landbirds as they migrate north in spring. Look for Lark Bunting flocks in winter along the shoulder of TX 141 as you return toward Kingsville, and be vigilant for White-tailed Kite, White-tailed Hawk, and Harris's Hawk.
Return east to Kingsville on TX 141. As you approach Kingsville you will see the entrance to the Santa Gertrudis division of the King Ranch (approximately 3.5 miles west of US 77) and the King Ranch Visitor Center. The King Ranch offers birding and wildlife tours and private tours. You will explore habitats from wetland to grassland looking for birds such as Least Grebe, White-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, Vermilion Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Green Jay, Olive Sparrow, and more. A number of South Texas specialties, extremely rare anywhere in the United States, are relatively common on the ranch. As you leave the King Ranch, continue east on TX 141 to University Boulevard and the Texas A&M _ Kingsville campus. Hooded Oriole reside on the campus, so drive around and look for nests in the scattered palm trees.
(361) 592-8055 www.king-ranch.com
Dick Kleberg Park
Return on TX 141 to the intersection with Business 77. Proceed south on Business 77 to the intersection with Escondido and Dick Kleberg Park (turn left on Escondido to reach the entrance to the park). Walk the trail along the lake in winter to see Vermilion Flycatcher, a variety of waterfowl (including Black-bellied Whistling-Duck), Lark Sparrow, and in summer look under the bridge at the north end of the lake for nesting Cave Swallows. Resident species here include Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed woodpeckers, Green Jay, Great Kiskadee, and Curve-billed and Long-billed thrashers. Check the short grass fields for both pipits (Sprague's is uncommon).
Santa Gertrudis Creek Bird Sanctuary
Leaving Dick Kleberg Park, turn right (east) on Escondido. Proceed to the intersection with FM 1717 (Escondido will veer left on Brahma Blvd. before the intersection), turn right and cross US 77, and continue to the Santa Gertrudis Creek Bird Sanctuary (to your left). Walk the levee to view the extensive marsh and its inhabitants: Least Grebe, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Purple Gallinule (summer), Marsh and Sedge wrens, and a variety of herons and egrets. King, Sora, and Virginia rails winter here (listen for their calling in late winter and early spring). Look for Great Kiskadee and Green Jay in the surrounding mesquite woodlands. Cave Swallows nest in summer in the culverts under FM 1717.
Return north on US 77 to the intersection with FM 772 (1 mile). Proceed east on FM 772, and watch for Common Ground-Dove, Groove-billed Ani, the two thrashers, Pyrrhuloxia, and Painted Bunting (in summer) along the fencerows. Continue on
FM 772 as it winds though the brush country to the intersection with CR 2250 E, then turn left (east) and continue to the intersection with CR 1132. Turn left and proceed north down the bluff to where the pavement ends and the caliche begins (be extremely careful on this road during rain). Drum Point overlooks Cayo del Grullo (a segment of Baffin Bay); continue along the unpaved road for approximately 1 mile to look for herons, egrets (Reddish), pelicans, waterfowl (including Bufflehead and Lesser Scaup), and shorebirds. Wilson's Plover and Least Tern nest here in summer. In migration (April, September) millions of swallows and martins stream along the bluff.
Kaufer - Hubert Memorial Park
Return to CR 2250 E, turn left (east) and proceed to Loyola Beach and FM 628
(CR 1132 will veer south before reaching the town). Veer south on FM 628, eventually angling left to Arana Creek and Kaufer-Hubert Memorial Park (watch for the signs). As you enter the park search the wetlands and mudflats at the mouth of Vattmann Creek for herons, egrets, and shorebirds (Wilson's Plover nest commonly here, Semipalmated, Snowy, and Piping occur in winter, and species such as Stilt, Pectoral, and White-rumped sandpipers may appear in spring). The ponds inside the park may contain flocks of waterfowl (Greater Scaup, Black Scoter, and Surf Scoter have appeared in the past), and look in the brushy areas around the park for Common Ground-Dove, Green Jay, and Olive Sparrow. Camping facilities (including RV and trailer hook-ups) are available in the park.
Riviera Fishing Pier
Retrace your path to FM 628, and turn south toward Riviera Beach. After a short distance FM 628 will turn right (west) to the intersection with FM 1526. Turn left (south) on FM 1526 and proceed to FM 771, then turn left (east) and continue to Riviera Beach and the Rivera Fishing Pier. The fishing pier overlooks the mouth of the Laguna Salada. Scan the waters for grebes, pelicans, and waterfowl. Residents in Riviera Beach often lure Green Jays to feeders. Look for Groove-billed Ani in the thick brush along the road.
Louise Trant Bird Sanctuary
Return on FM 771 west to Riviera. Travel north on US 77 for 0.1 miles, and watch for the Louise Trant Bird Sanctuary just north of the intersection. This marsh is maintained by the Audubon Outdoor Club of Corpus Christi. Soras winter in this pond, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds may frequent the cattails in spring. Among the rarities that have appeared here are Red-billed Pigeon and Masked Duck.
Before continuing south to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, proceed west on TX 285 toward Falfurrias. Kingsville birders have named this stretch of highway _Hawk Alley,' and an assortment of raptors (White-tailed Hawk, Harris's Hawk, Crested Caracara are residents, Mississippi Kite, Broad-winged Hawk, and Swainson's Hawk migrate through this region by the hundreds of thousands) may be seen perched on power poles or soaring over the fields. Red-tailed Hawk is resident, and Ferruginous Hawk and American Kestrel are common in winter. Also look for flocks of Lark Buntings along the shoulder during winter.