- San Antonio CVB, (800) 447-3372, www.visitsanantonio.com
Southside Lions Park East
From US 281 and I-10/US 90 East, take I-10 east to US 87 South. Go 0.7 mile south on US 87 to Pecan Valley. Go south 0.9 mile to park entrance.
Salado Creek runs through the park and habitat includes large bald cypress, mesquite and pecan trees. Grassy areas with blooming wildflowers attract a variety of butterflies. Dragonflies such as Sulphur-tipped Clubtail, Neon and Roseate Skimmers, Eastern Pondhawk, Blue Dasher and Common Green Darner abound. Look for Eastern Bluebird, American Crow, Red-shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, Pied-billed Grebe, Western Kingbird, White-eyed Vireo and Great Blue Heron. This is an excellent stop for migrant warblers and flycatchers in spring. Look for a variety of ducks on the lake in winter.
(210) 207-7275 www.sanantonio.gov/parksandrec/directory_south_side_lions.aspx
Calaveras Lake Park
From I-410 and I-37, follow I-410 north and take Exit 37 toward Southcross Blvd./Sinclair Rd. Take a right on New Sulphur Springs Rd. and continue 7.4 miles to Stuart Rd. Take a right on Stuart Rd., the park entrance will be on the right after 2.4 miles.
This large multi-use park offers camping, picnicking, fishing and wildlife viewing. Along the reeds, look for Common Yellowthroat, Pied-billed Grebe and Common Moorhen. During the winter months, look for rails, bitterns, Swamp Sparrow and Marsh Wren. In the brush, look for passing migrants such as warblers and flycatchers in the spring and fall. In summer, the tall grass fields are a great place to spot butterflies such as Variegated Fritillary and Bordered Patch. In the winter, these fields provide habitat for a variety of sparrows.
Braunig Lake Park
From I-37 and Loop 1604, go north on I-37 for 1.3 miles to Exit 127 for Braunig Lake. Continue straight on the frontage road 0.8 mile to entrance.
The mesquite-oak brush around the lake hosts residents such as Orchard Oriole, Pyrrhuloxia,
Curve-billed Thrasher and Greater Roadrunner. Scan the lake and shoreline vegetation for Least and Pied-billed Grebes, Green Heron, Common Moorhen and Great and Snowy Egrets. In the fall and winter, look for loons and gulls. Rare sightings such as Sooty Tern, Great Kiskadee, Brown Pelican and Mew, Sabine's and California Gulls have occurred here.
Mission Espada and Aqueduct
Mission Espada: From I-37 and I-410, head west on I-410 and take the exit for Espada Rd. to the Mission Trail. There is signage for the Mission Trail throughout the area. Go 0.2 mile to the stop sign and turn right. Then, follow 0.5 mile to the mission.
Espada Aqueduct: Return to stop sign and go 0.8 mile north to Aqueduct.
Mission Espada is the oldest Mission in Texas. It still functions on its original 1740s aqueduct and irrigation system. Around the main part of the church are bird feeders. Look for Black-chinned Hummingbird. Check for herons and egrets, Barred Owl and Golden-fronted, Ladder-backed and Downy Woodpeckers. The river is home to Wood Duck and Pied-billed Grebe. Winter can produce American Pipit, Spotted Sandpiper and various sparrows along the river's edge. Also look for wintering waterfowl such as Hooded Merganser. The Aqueduct area also provides a nice riparian habitat for spring and fall migrants.
San Juan Woodland Trail: From the aqueduct, turn left and head to the bridge. Turn right and go
0.3 mile to Mission Rd. Turn right again and go 0.5 mile to Mission San Juan Capistrano on right.
This 0.3-mile trail follows the riparian woodland along the original channel of the San Antonio River. The boardwalk trail is ADA-accessible. The river edge is heavily vegetated, this is a good site for migrating warblers and flycatchers. Residents include Carolina Chickadee, White-eyed Vireo, Wood Duck, Great Blue Heron, Green Kingfisher and Ladder-backed and Downy Woodpeckers. Summers produce a variety of dragonflies and butterflies.
Mitchell Lake Wetlands Wildlife Refuge
From Loop 410, exit Moursund (Exit 46). Go south on Moursund/Pleasanton Rd. for 0.7 mile to entrance gate on left.
The Mitchell Lake Audubon Center is San Antonio's premier birding location. In addition to the lake and ponds, this site also provides brush land, grassland and mudflat habitats. Common birds include Harris' and Red-tailed Hawks, Crested Caracara, Greater Roadrunner, Black-necked Stilt, Blue Grosbeak and Neotropic Cormorant. Migration brings several species of warblers, large numbers of ducks and a wide assortment of shorebirds. Cattle and Great Egrets, Little Blue and Green Herons and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron form a rookery on the northeast part of the lake. Groove-billed Ani has also nested here. Winter is an outstanding time to visit this site. Vermilion Flycatcher, Say's Phoebe, Cinnamon Teal, as well as numerous sparrows and ducks regularly winter at Mitchell Lake. Rare sightings are not restricted to any particular season; unusual birds often make an appearance, especially after severe weather. Past rare sightings include Magnificent Frigatebird, Ringed Kingfisher, Reddish Egret and Great Kiskadee. Least Grebe and Roseate Spoonbill are seen from time to time as well. Look for dragonflies such as Four-spotted Pennant and Eastern Pondhawk, and butterflies such as Bordered Patch, Buckeye, Variegated Fritillary and Pipevine Swallowtail.
(210) 628-1639 http://Mitchelllake.Audubon.org
Medina River Natural Area
Take I-10 west and merge onto I-35 South from Exit 572 toward Laredo. Continue about 5 miles to Spur 422 and exit 139 toward El Paso. Merge onto TX 422 Spur south for 1.2 miles until it becomes Hwy. 16 South. Continue another 4.2 miles. Just before the Medina River bridge turn left into Medina River Natural Area.
This site provides excellent birding and wildlife viewing in mixed brush and riparian woodland habitats along the Medina River. Mesquite woodlands, brush/cactus scrub and grasslands create a rich and diverse viewing site. Look for Vermilion Flycatcher, Curve-billed Thrasher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Cactus Wren and Western Scrub Jay.
(210) 207-3000 www.sanaturalareas.org/mr/mrindex.html
From Loop 1604 and Palo Alto Rd., head east on Loop 1604 2.5 miles to Applewhite Rd.
Take Applewhite Rd. to the north/left for 0.8 mile. The bridge is just past Jett Rd.
En route to this site, note the 5-mile stretch of Applewhite north of this crossing. These roadsides are excellent places to find sparrows and towhees in the winter. In the spring and summer, wildflowers are in full bloom. Gaillardia, Mexican hat, wine cup, verbena and sunflowers attract numerous butterflies, including Gulf Fritillary, Pipevine Swallowtail and various sulphurs. At the crossing, park along the road and follow the trail below the bridge. Large cottonwoods, hackberries and pecans line the creek bottom. Look for Red-shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl and Carolina Chickadee. Damselflies are common, as are dragonflies such as Five-striped Leaftail and Neon Skimmer. Observe from the roadside; most of the land is private property, so please do not trespass.
Dilley Cemetery and Crawford Road
Dilley Cemetery: From the intersection of I-35 and Loop 410 in south San Antonio, take I-35 south for 57.7 miles to Dilley. At Exit 86, veer right to stay on the I-35 frontage road heading south. After 0.5 mile, turn right onto Hugo St./CR 4670. Cemetery is on the left.
Birds and butterflies are abundant within this wooded cemetery. Juniper, oaks and willows provide shade and habitat. Look for Eastern Phoebe, Bullock's Oriole, Ash-throated and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Curve-billed Thrasher, Common Nighthawk, Summer Tanager and White-eyed Vireo. Migrating warblers and flycatchers can be seen during spring.
Crawford Road: Return south on I-35 to its intersection with TX 85. Turn left on TX 85 East for 3.2 miles to CR 3800/Crawford Rd.
The grass fields with mixed brush on either side of Crawford Rd. provide habitat for Dickcissel in the summer. Look for Lark and Black-throated Sparrows, Pyrrhuloxia, Cactus Wren and Northern Bobwhite. In the winter, the area has a diversity of sparrows. At both locations, look for soaring raptors, as well as scavengers such as Chihuahuan Raven.
I-35 La Salle County Safety Rest Area
Located on both sides of I-35 between mile markers 59 and 60, approximately 11 miles south of Cotulla and 3 miles north of the FM 133 (Big Wells) intersection. The rest area has dual facilities to most efficiently serve both northbound and southbound I-35 traffic.
This rest area contains native south Texas brush that is typical to the area and includes over
1 mile of all-weather nature trails located on approximately 40 acres of previously undisturbed mesquite/prickly pear/mixed brush rangeland. The trails were specifically implemented to minimize disturbances to the native brush while still visually screening trail walkers from I-35 traffic. Bird species observed on the trails are typical of the south Texas plains ecological region, including roadrunners, Pyrrhuloxia, Cactus Wren, Mourning and White-winged Doves and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. In addition, this area is a great spot for migrating songbirds during the fall and spring.
Lone Star Camp, Franklin Ranch
This 5,500-acre ranch provides extensive habitat for exploring the native brush country of south Texas. San Miguel Creek provides excellent riparian habitat. Expect to find Long-billed and Curve-billed Thrashers, Green Jay, Vermilion Flycatcher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Harris' Hawk and a variety of other Brush Country specialties. Wildlife viewing blinds are available for photography and guided nature tours can be arranged.
(361) 274-3514 Call for Directions www.lonestarcamp.com