Clear Lake Loop
- Alvin Convention and Visitors Center Bureau, (281) 585-3359, www.alvintexas.org
- Bay Area Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, (281) 474-9700, www.visitbayareahouston.com
- Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, (281) 488-7676 , www.clearlakearea.com
- Seabrook Tourism, (281) 291-5777, www.seabrooktourism.com
Proceed north on TX 146 to the Kemah/Seabrook Bridge, and immediately exit after crossing. Circle back south on 10 St./Waterfront Dr., across Todville, and into McHale Park. McHale Park is a lovely spot from which to view the western shore of Galveston Bay. Flotillas of American White Pelicans fish the nearshore waters in winter, and the adjacent marshes pull in scads of herons and egrets. Brown Pelicans may be seen at any season.
Hester Garden Park
Exit McHale Park, and go north on Todville to Hester Garden Park. The park, a former nursery, is an undiscovered gem and consists of an impressive variety of trees and shrubs, with a pleasing trail and butterfly garden. Check these woods in late fall and winter, since many of these plants are evergreen and therefore attractive to lingering insectivores.
Pine Gully Park
Continue north on Todville to Pine Gully Rd. and then turn east to Pine Gully Park. This multi-use facility offers another view of Galveston Bay, including from a long pier, and the trees along the wooded trails within the park are worth inspecting for migrant landbirds. The wetlands attract wading birds, and there are resident rails.
As you leave Pine Gully Park, return south on Todville to Red Bluff Rd. and enter Robinson Park near that intersection. Robinson Park contains approximately 20 acres of old oaks, and a trail connects these woodlands with Pine Gully Park, Hester Garden Park, and the Seabrook Wildlife Refuge. Robinson Park has a lot of edge habitat and is another woodlot to check for migrants.
Seabrook Wildlife Refuge and Park
Head west on Red Bluff Rd. a few hundred yards and the Seabrook Wildlife Refuge entrance and parking are on the right (north side of the road). The 40-acre refuge is a unit of the
city park system that is being maintained in a natural condition, undeveloped except for a perimeter trail. The trail runs north from Red Bluff Rd. and divides into a western spur and one going east to Robinson Park. Because the trail parallels the upper course of Pine Gully Bayou, it usually offers opportunities to see egrets and herons. Woodland birds possible throughout the trails as well. Turtles, alligators, deer, and swamp rabbits frequent the refuge.
Little Cedar Bayou Nature Trail
Drive west on Red Bluff Rd. and head north on Hwy 146. Turn right onto State Loop 410/Wharton Weems Blvd. and then left onto Broadway St. Parking lot to the nature trail will be on the right before crossing Little Cedar Bayou Bridge. A short hike down this Nature Trail follows along Little Cedar Bayou leading to two birdwatching platforms with views of wading birds and waterbirds of the area.
Armand Bayou Nature Center
Head south on Broadway St. to Shoreacres Blvd. and turn right. Cross Hwy 146 continuing onto Choate Rd. Turn left onto Bay Area Blvd. and follow it to Armand Bayou Nature Center (ABNC). Sandwiched between NASA and the Bayport Industrial District, ABNC is a 2,500-acre wildlife preserve encompassing three distinct ecosystems: wetlands, woodlands, and tall-grass prairie.
A system of nature trails honeycombs the property, and the center operates a pontoon boat that plies the waters of Armand Bayou every Saturday (reservations required). Staff and volunteers have spent countless hours restoring several hundred acres of coastal prairie, and grassland species such as Sedge Wren, Le Conte's Sparrow, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel (winter), Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (summer), White-tailed Kite, and Loggerhead Shrike (resident) are likely here. The forestlands can produce good numbers of warblers, grosbeaks, tanagers, buntings, vireos and other migrants in the spring and fall. Expected forest species in winter include White-throated Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Goldfinch, Cedar Waxwing and Eastern Phoebe with residents such as Pileated, Red-bellied and Downy woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, and Red-shouldered Hawk. In summer, the forest should also produce Great-crested Flycatcher and, commonly, White-eyed Vireo. Osprey, numerous herons, Belted Kingfisher, Anhinga, plus gulls and terns are commonly seen on Armand Bayou, which is accessible by nature center trail.
(281) 474-2551 www.abnc.org
Bay Area Park
Continue west on Bay Area Blvd. to Bay Area Park. This Harris County park is situated on Armand Bayou, and the parking area near the water offers an unobstructed view. Look for Osprey in migration and winter.
Nassau Bay Park
Continue west on Bay Area Blvd. to Middlebrook Dr., then east on Middlebrook Dr. to Space Center Blvd. Go south on Space Center Blvd. to NASA Road One, then west on NASA Road One to Upper Bay Rd. The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center and Space Center Houston are both located along NASA Road One. Go south on Upper Bay Rd. to the park to enjoy wildlife viewing over Lake Nassau and Clear Creek.
Dr. Ned and Fay Dudney Nature Center
Return to NASA Road One, and continue west to Egret Bay Pkwy., and then turn left and head south 1.5 miles to the entrance of the nature center which is on the left just south of Clear Creek. This 148-acre site is excellent for birds such as Sandhill Cranes, herons, ibises, egrets, raptors and various songbirds. Occasionally the endangered Whooping Cranes have been known to visit as well. Ducks, pelicans, shorebirds, and wading birds all enjoy the large isolated pond along Clear Creek, and this park offers paved trails that lead to several bird blinds along the creek.
Challenger 7 Memorial Park
Return to NASA Road One, and continue west to I-45 (Take the Nasa Pkwy. exit toward TX 3/Sarah Deel Dr.). At I-45 NASA Pkwy. becomes FM 528; continue west to West NASA Blvd. Go south on West NASA Blvd. to Challenger 7 Memorial Park. An extensive nature trail and boardwalk has been developed in this park along Clear Creek. Many of the eastern woodland birds can be found here, and White-tailed Hawks nest in the general area.
Walter Hall County Park
Return to the intersection of TX 3 and NASA Pkwy., and go south on TX 3 to Walter Hall Park. This multi-use facility has been developed for a variety of outdoor activities, but birding opportunities do exist along Clear Creek.
Paul Hopkins Community Park
Continue south on TX 3 to FM 517, then west on FM 517 to Paul Hopkins Community Park. This pocket park has a nature trail along the bayou, and migrant landbirds often pass along this waterway in spring. A number of eastern woodland birds, including Red-shouldered Hawk, nest in this woodland.
Alvin Mustang Bayou Trail
Proceed west on FM 517 to I-45, then continue west across I-45 to TX 35 in Alvin. Go
south on TX 35 to TX 6, then west on TX 6 to BUS 35. Go south on BUS 35 to the Mustang Bayou Trail in Alvin (a trail head is located at the historic railroad depot that is now being restored). While in the area, check the woodlands along the Mustang Bayou Trail.
John Hargrove Environmental Complex
Head north on TX 35 to Pearland, exiting at Magnolia St. Turn left onto Magnolia and the entrance to JHEC will be about 2 miles down on the left. Situated on a 108-acre retention pond protected on two sides with a light tree line, this site offers viewing opportunities year-round. With waterways and green space allocated for water run-off and detention, these open spaces are permanently protected for use by wildlife and birders. Worth a visit to see a variety of wading birds and songbirds.
Shadow Creek Ranch Nature Park
Continue west on Magnolia St. to TX 288 and head north. Exit FM 2234/McHard Rd. and turn left following McHard Rd. west to Kingley Dr. Turn right on Kingley Dr. and the park will be on the right. This 29.5-acre park borders Clear Creek and has paved hiking/biking trails throughout that are enhanced with interpretive signage. The site offers views of raptors, herons, egrets, ibis, spoonbills, and songbirds.