- Bronte COC, (325) 473-3501, www.brontetexas.org
- Abilene CVB, (800) 727-7704, www.abilenevisitors.com
- Abilene COC, (325) 677-7241, www.abilenechamber.com
- San Angelo COC , (325) 655-4136, www.sanangelo.org
Fort Chadbourne sits on 10,000 acres of private ranchland since 1877. Eight generations have called this home. The historic fort (1852_1867) has been preserved, stabilized and restored to its original structure. White-tailed Deer forage throughout the property. Bobcat, Red and Common Gray Foxes, coyote, porcupine and ringtail are found here, as well as Thirteen-lined Ground, Fox and Rock Squirrels. Watch for Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Western Coachwhip, Bullsnake and Hognose Snake. Texas Horned Lizard, Texas Spotted Whiptail and Eastern Collared Lizard also occur here. Nearby, Oak Creek Lake provides habitat for Great Blue Heron, and a variety of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds in the winter. Sparrows abound in winter. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Lark Sparrow, Red-tailed Hawk, Eastern and Western Meadowlarks and Cooper's Hawk are common breeders, easily seen in the summer. Also look for Bullock's Oriole, Painted Bunting and Dickcissel. Both Northern Bobwhite and Scaled Quail occur here.
(325) 743-2555 Call for Access and Directions www.fortchadbourne.org
Lake Spence-humble Crossing
From TX 158 and TX 208 in Robert Lee, take TX 208 north 9.2 miles to Exxon Rd., turn left and go 4 miles to the entrance. Veer off to the right at the public toilets and follow the trail to the left for riverfront access.
This multi-use park has boating, fishing and picnic facilities, as well as riparian areas on the Colorado River that attract wintering Sandhill Crane, Bald Eagle and Osprey. Greater Roadrunner, Northern Bobwhite, rattlesnakes, jackrabbits and deer are abundant here. Monarch Butterfly migration in October brings large numbers of these colorful insects through the park, where they feed on large milkweed plants.
(325) 453-2061 www.tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/recreational/lakes/spence
Fern Havins Park
From TX 158 and TX 208 in Robert Lee, take TX 158 west to 4th Street. Turn right and go to the end of the road.
This multi-use park on the Colorado River provides good habitat for butterflies and dragonflies, as well as birds such as Pied-billed Grebe, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Belted Kingfisher and Great Blue Heron.
Dripping Springs Grotto
From TX 158 in Edith, take Dripping Springs Rd. north. Follow the road to the left, go about 200 yards to the low water crossing and park on the right. The grotto is over the edge. Observe only from the roadside.
This is one of the best birding venues in the region and a tremendously picturesque grotto, with steep canyon walls and beautiful bluffs. It stays wet even in the driest conditions and provides lush habitat for turtles, aquatic insects and an excellent variety of birds. Brown Thrasher, Verdin and Canyon, Bewick's and Cactus Wrens have all been seen here, as have Nashville, McGillivray's and Black-and-white Warblers during migration. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher abounds in summer, and the acacia, mesquite, willow and oak woodlands provide dense cover farther up the creek.
Walnut Creek Ranch
From Water Valley, take US 87 north 5.3 miles to Walnut Rd. Take a right on Walnut Rd. and continue 7 miles to ranch on right.
This ranch sits along Walnut Creek where the Hill Country and Rolling Plains landscapes of Texas merge. Over 10,000 acres of varied habitat makes this an excellent site for wildlife enthusiasts, as well as historians and archaeologists. Flint chips, arrowheads and handmade Indian tools litter the land. This ranch offers evidence of human occupation for over 12,000 years. Mixed riparian woodlands, canyons and limestone ledges in grassland scrub and mesquite savannas constitute the outlying areas of the ranch. Habitats on the ranch support a wide variety of birds, such as Black-capped and Bell's Vireos, Scott's and Bullock's Orioles, Vermilion Flycatcher, Canyon and Cactus Wrens, Canyon Towhee, Greater Roadrunner, Northern Bobwhite, Scaled Quail, Wild Turkey and Painted Bunting. Look for Black Phoebe along the creek. Mountain, Eastern and Western Bluebirds are common. Guests may also encounter many wintering sparrows and woodpeckers. White-tailed Deer are abundant, and visitors may also see javelina and bobcats. Reptiles on the ranch include Texas Horned and Texas Spiny Lizards. The ponds and creeks are home to a variety of amphibians and aquatic insects. Look for Blanchard's Cricket and Plains Leopard Frogs and Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toad. Dragonflies and damselflies are plentiful. Common Whitetail, Roseate and Flame Skimmers, Red and Black Saddlebags, Blue-ringed Dancer and Familiar Bluet all occur here.
(877) 690-6400 www.walnutcreekranch.com
GPS: 31.8069 -100.7785