- Brownsville Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 626-2639, www.brownsville.org
TPWD Coastal Fisheries Field Station
From the intersection of US 77/83 and FM 511, drive south on US 77/83 and exit at the Stillman Rd./Old Alice Rd. turnoff. After exiting, remain on the service road, continuing south to Fish Hatchery Rd., then go west on Fish Hatchery Rd. to the TPWD Coastal Fisheries Field Station. Park in the spaces beyond the headquarters. This facility's 20 large, rectangular ponds have been phased out, but several of the ponds are seasonally full and a new observation deck has been built overlooking one of the ponds. It hosts a variety of waterbirds, including whistling-ducks, cormorants, Anhinga, and an occasional Ringed Kingfisher. During summer, watch for Least Tern and Least Bittern. Trees around the facility attract Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, and Altamira Oriole. During summer, listen for Groove-billed Ani and Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet. Summer visits have yielded 11 species of dragonflies and damselflies including the Caribbean Yellowface and the decidedly local Spot-tailed Dasher, both of which are limited to several counties in the U.S.
Camp Lula Sams
Continue north (right) on Fish Hatchery Rd. another 0.5 mile to Camp Lula Sams, a private wildlife refuge. The site's 87 acres of low woodlands and resacas also offer visitors several air-conditioned cabins with kitchens, as well as more simple accommodations for groups of children or adults. Various presentations and workshops, along with meals may be arranged for groups. The grounds are home to a healthy population of Texas Tortoises and other reptiles, three species of native cats, and many of the Valley's specialty birds. Fee schedules vary with group size and the type of activities desired. Call for details.
(956) 350-9093 www.camplulasams.com
Gladys Porter Zoo / Dean Porter Park
Return to US 77/83, and continue approximately 5 miles south to Boca Chica Blvd. (TX 48). From the intersection of US 77/83 and Boca Chica Blvd., go west on Boca Chica Blvd. to Palm Blvd., and then veer southwest on Palm Blvd. to Ringgold St. Go southeast on Ringgold St. to the Gladys Porter Zoo and Dean Porter Park. The Gladys Porter Zoo has a number of native species roaming the resacas and on display in the aviary, as well as one of the rarest cats in the U.S, the Jaguarundi. Dean Porter Park (free entry) is located across the street from the zoo's entrance. It is well vegetated with native trees and shrubs, and hosts a number of Valley specialties. Red-crowned Parrots come into this park to roost in the evenings.
Return to Boca Chica Blvd., and continue west to Resaca Blvd. Go south on Resaca Blvd., and look for cormorants, Anhinga, and a variety of ducks. Ringed Kingfisher are often seen along this resaca, as well as numbers of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks. Several uncommon damselflies occur here, such as Caribbean Yellowface and Amelia's Threadtail.