- Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, (361) 782-7146, www.jacksoncountytexas.com
Lake Texana Mustang Creek Boat Ramp
The Lavaca Navidad River Authority (LNRA) Mustang Creek boat ramp on TX 172 south of Ganado offers the opportunity to park and bird the oak woodlands that typify the bottomlands of the sister rivers: the Navidad and the Lavaca. Eastern woodland species such as Red-shouldered Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, and Carolina Chickadee abound here. Wood Ducks often spill out over the woodlands in early morning while the lake water around the boat ramp is frequently swarming with a variety of dabbling ducks.
Mustang Creek Recreation Area
This interesting wooded enclave is admittedly difficult to find. From Ganado, go west on Loop 522 W to FM 2982 S, then turn left (south) on FM 2982 to CR 249. Turn left (east) on CR 249, and drive straight to the entrance of the Mustang Creek Recreation Area. Relatively unspoiled and rarely visited, this forested area offers the opportunity to see a variety of eastern woodland birds, most of which are identical to those seen in Texana Park and Campground. However, migration tends to shuffle the deck, and one will never know exactly what to expect at any given location. Wilderness camping is allowed.
Texana Park and Campground
To reach the LNRA Lake Texana Boat Ramp and then Texana Park and Campground, continue southwest on US 59 and cross the Lake Texana bridge. Immediately west of the lake take the exit for the LNRA boat ramp on the north side of the lake. Continue southwest on US 59; turn north on FM 530 for a stretch of interesting roadside birding between Cordele and Vienna, including the Navidad River crossing in Lavaca County. Return to US 59 and continue southwest on US 59 to Edna, then turn south on TX 111. Continue on TX 111 as it veers to the east until reaching the entrance to the park and campground (approximately 6.5 miles from Edna). This site is an example of Texas coastal riparian forest, as well as the woodland birds that inhabit such a forest. Mississippi Kite (in summer), Red-bellied, Downy, and Pileated woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadee, and American Crow are examples of eastern species that soon disappear (to be replaced by more tropical species) as one drifts to the south. The park offers overnight facilities (partial and full hookup campsites, showers, restrooms).
Brackenridge Plantation Park & Campground
With similar habitats, birds, and facilities as the Texana Park, Brackenridge Park and Campground is another LNRA-managed park. Brackenridge Park is located directly across TX 111 from the entrance to Texana Park. Full hook-ups are available at this campground. This park also features sports and recreation areas, historical sites, hike and bike trails, nature trails, water activities and lots of quiet places to relax.
(361) 782-5456 www.brackenridgepark.com
Palmetto Bend Dam
Return west on TX 111 to the intersection with FM 3131, then travel south on FM 3131 as it turns east to Palmetto Bend Dam. The agricultural fields along FM 3131 are attractive to grassland shorebirds in the spring, so be alert for flocks of American Golden-Plovers, Long-billed Curlews, and Upland Sandpipers. Turn left (east) on CR 417, and continue to Lake Texana and the LNRA Simon's Boat Ramp. Returning to FM 3131, continue 2 miles south to Palmetto Bend Dam. Upon reaching Palmetto Bend Dam, park in the designated sites and scan the lake for loons, grebes, and diving ducks. Listen for a variety of woodland birds in the bottomland forest below the dam. There is typically a Bald Eagle nest south of the dam with birds on it from October to May. Bald Eagles can be seen from the viewing stand on the east side of the parking lot as well.
Lavaca / Navidad Estuary
Continue on FM 3131 east to the intersection with FM 1593, then turn right (south) on FM 1593 until reaching FM 616 at Lolita. Turn right again (west) on FM 616, and proceed until reaching the observation deck on FM 616 that overlooks the Lavaca/Navidad estuary. Few sites along the Texas coast match this estuary for its wildlife spectacle. The herons, egrets, spoonbills, Anhingas, ducks, bitterns, and shorebirds milling in, above, and around these marshes offer observers a good variety of birds. In late summer and early fall look for Wood Stork.
To reach the park, continue west on FM 616 and turn right (north) on CR 325 at LaSalle. Cross the tracks, and at the T-intersection (0.7 miles) follow CR 325 left. Turn left on CR 326 (1.3 miles) to the entrance to the park (1 mile). Visit during migration for the best birding. The palms within this small park (40 acres) are Mexican palmettos or Texas sabal palms (Sabal mexicanas), a species once thought limited in Texas to the Rio Grande Valley in southernmost Texas. The palms in the park occur here naturally and if left undisturbed will eventually grow to tree size.
Garcitas Boat Ramp
Retrace your path from Bennett Park to FM 616 at LaSalle, then continue west on
FM 616 to the Garcitas Creek crossing. Park at the boat ramp, and bird the surrounding woodlands. The boat ramp offers a similar habitat to Bennett Park, and with proper weather conditions migrants will enliven these woods as well. Check the marshes adjacent to the boat ramp for Common Yellowthroat, Marsh Wren, and the two species of waterthrush in migration. PLEASE DO NOT CROSS FENCES OR TRESPASS ON ADJACENT PRIVATE PROPERTY.