Kickapoo Cavern State Park/Devil's Sinkhole State Natural Area
Kickapoo Cavern SP: From the intersection of US 90 and FM 674 in Brackettville, go north on FM 674 for 22.5 miles to the entrance on the left.
This site covers 6,400 acres of important wildlife habitat and represents a convergence point for three distinct physiographical regions: the Edwards Plateau, Tamaulipan brush and Chihuahuan Desert. Steep limestone canyons provide rich and varied habitat for birds and mammals alike. Juniper and live oak predominate throughout the park, but the canyons contain Texas persimmon, shin oak, agarita and evergreen sumac. Gnat-catchers, vireos, bushtits, Verdin, Varied Bunting, Montezuma Quail and one of the largest concentrations of Black-capped Vireo on public lands all occur here. Gray Vireo can also be seen with relative ease during the breeding season. Mammals that are more commonly seen in the park include White-tailed Deer, raccoon, ringtail, Gray Fox, Rock Squirrel, porcupine, rabbit and various rodents. Uncommon species of reptiles and amphibians live in the park, including Barking Frog, Mottled Rock Rattlesnake and Texas Alligator Lizard. Kickapoo Cavern, approximately 0.25 mile in length, boasts some impressive formations and can be toured by special arrangement. Stuart Bat Cave, slightly shorter than Kickapoo at 1,068 ft., serves as a spring_summer home for large numbers of Mexican Free-tailed Bats from mid-March to about the end of October. Bat flights are often spectacular, and tours are available.
Devil's Sinkhole SNA: Located north of Rocksprings on US 377, it features a deep vertical cavern and bat viewing opportunities. Visitors need to call in advance.
Ledge Water Campground
From TX 377 and TX 55 in Rocksprings, take TX 55 south for 16.8 miles to the campground on the right.
Ledge Water Campground covers roughly 1,000 acres of incredibly beautiful, wooded creek bottom. Much of the acreage is covered with juniper, and a lake formed by a dam on the creek provides a luxurious place to picnic, watch birds in the massive live oaks or swim in crystal clear water. Northern Rough-winged Swallows feed along the banks, and Vermilion Flycatchers snap up insects in the picnic area. Upland habitat can be accessed by roads that allow birders to walk the area above the creek.
Park Chalk Bluff
From FM 334 and TX 55, go south on TX 55 4.5 miles to gate on right.
Located along the north bank of the Nueces River, this park has long been a favorite of birders, offering "east meets west" habitats and the resulting diversity of birds and other wildlife. Look for the 300-ft.-tall bluff that provides a dramatic backdrop of changing colors and textures. Below the bluff, the river's main channel is edged with dense thickets of willow and other riparian vegetation. These pools are favored hunting sites for Green Kingfisher. Cassin's Sparrow, Bell's Vireo and Vermilion Fly-Catcher, as well as Bewick's, Carolina and Canyon Wrens can be found here. In breeding season, listen for Yellow-throated Vireo, Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Olive Sparrow and Painted Bunting. During spring migration, Clay-colored and Chipping Sparrows, Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Baltimore and (nesting) Bullock's Orioles and Black-and-white Warbler sing here as well. Less common birds at Chalk Bluff include Ringed Kingfisher, Zone-tailed Hawk, Black-capped Vireo and even Rufous-capped Warbler. Butterflies include White Peacock, Fatal Metal-Mark, Elada Checker-Spot, Vesta Crescent and Bordered Patch. The pools and channels of the river provide habitat for a large assortment of dragonflies and damselflies such as Comanche Skimmer, Eastern Pondhawk, Checkered Setwing, Flag-tailed Spinyleg and Comanche and Coppery Dancers. Park Chalk Bluff offers tent and trailer camping as well as cabin, rowboat, paddleboat, inner tube and bicycle rentals.
Open V Ranch
The Open V includes 250 acres representing a variety of habitats from grassy mesquite scrub with Vesper Sparrow to shady, graveled bottomland along Bird Springs Creek. A pond and the Nueces River add to the variety of scenery and habitats. A trail through the property allows guests to enjoy plants and wildlife at their own pace. Comfortable lodging is available in the ranch house and camping is available along 2 miles of the Nueces River. Lipan Apache and Jumano Indian artifacts can still be found on the property.
Call for Directions
Cooks Slough Nature Park
From the intersection of US 90 and US 83 in Uvalde, go south on US 83 0.4 mile to FM 117. Follow FM 117 south for 0.9 mile to CR 106 West. Turn right and go 0.5 mile to entrance.
The nature park offers 3 water treatment ponds that provide excellent habitat for wintering and migrating waterfowl. Ducks, cormorants and herons can be found here regularly. A large overflow reservoir provides habitat for Green Kingfisher, Northern Rough-winged and Tree Swallows and Black-bellied Whistling Duck. The nature center is an excellent example of a city using its wastewater facility as a means to create, and then enhance, wildlife habitat.
Fort Inge Historical Park
From FM 117 and FM 140, go east 1.2 miles on FM 140 and turn right on CR 375; continue 0.3 mile to gated entrance.
Established in 1849, Fort Inge runs along the Leona River and provides excellent wildlife habitat very close to Uvalde. Look for characteristic Lower Rio Grande Valley species such as Green Kingfisher, Great Kiskadee and Long-billed Thrasher. The wooded edge of the Leona River below the dam also has a mussel shoal made of native shellfish that still thrive in the clear, unpolluted stream. Wintering birds make use of the cover and the lake above the dam, and migrants fill the trees during spring. Black-chinned Hummingbird nests here.
Uvalde Fish Hatchery
From US 90 and US 83 in Uvalde, go west on US 90 1.6 miles to FM 481 and head south 1.9 miles. Entrance is on the right.
This federal fish hatchery has historically been one of the best places in Uvalde to see migrating shorebirds and waterbirds. There is a large wetland with two observation towers in the back of the hatchery. When it contains water, the wetland is a good place to see ducks and shorebirds. Yellow-headed Blackbird is seen here in some years. Breeders include Bullock's Oriole and Vermilion Flycatcher. The hatchery is excellent for butterflies, and dragonflies are plentiful due to the emergent vegetation provided by the slough. This is a good site to see Blue Grosbeak and Painted Bunting, two of the area's summer nesting birds.