San Bernard Loop
Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary
From the intersection of TX 332 and FM 523 near Oyster Creek go west on FM 523 to FM 1495. Go south on FM 1495 across the GIWW to CR 723 (Lamar St.). Turn left on CR 723 and proceed 2.1 miles to the sanctuary.
This small grove of salt cedars has become a birding hotspot. During spring migration warblers, orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks and other migrant songbirds can be abundant in the trees here. Western strays are common including Yellow-headed Blackbird, Lark Sparrow, and Western Kingbird. The sanctuary has two water drips that attract birds and a photography blind is set up at one of the drips.
Quintana Beach County Park
Continue east on CR 723 and turn right onto 5th St. Quintana Beach County Park will be straight ahead.
The salt cedars along the beach can contain migrant songbirds and the grassy fields often have American Pipits and more rarely Upland Sandpipers. To reach the Quintana Jetty, exit the park and turn right on Burnet St., then right again on 2nd St. Large flocks of gulls and terns roost at the jetty and should be searched for rarities. The jetty itself makes a good walk and provides an opportunity to watch for rare gulls in winter and Magnificent Frigatebirds in summer. Return to Burnet St. and turn left. Go two blocks and take 8th St. down to the beach. There is a pier here which provides another view of the Gulf. Drive southwest along the beach until reaching the mouth of the Brazos River and the Bryan Beach Unit of the Justin Hurst (Peach Point) WMA. Flocks of waterbirds crowd the sand flats at the mouth of the river, and gangs of American Avocets often swirl through the shallow waters here. Piping and Snowy plovers chase the water's edge, and Merlins eye them while perched on the driftwood that litters the dunes.
Return to FM 1495, and turn south on CR 750/Bryan Beach Rd. Proceed south to the beach, and drive southwest along the beach until reaching the mouth of the Brazos River and Justin Hurst WMA.
This city beach is undeveloped, yet this unspoiled condition adds to the appeal of the location. Flocks of waterbirds crowd the sand flats at the mouth of the river, and American Avocets often swirl through the shallow waters here. Piping and Snowy plovers chase the water's edge, and Merlins eye them while perched on the driftwood that litters the dunes.
Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area
Return to the intersection of FM 1495 and TX 36, and continue northwest on TX 36 to the TPWD Justin Hurst WMA (formerly Peach Point WMA).
Most of this 15,612-acre management area consists of either coastal prairie or coastal marshes that are inaccessible to the public. However, nature trails have been developed that provide visitors with the opportunity to explore an oak/hackberry motte and adjacent grasslands. The Live Oak Loop (half-mile improved trail) and the Jones Creek Trail (2.5-mile unimproved trail) may be accessed 0.2 mile from TX 36 at a trailhead situated in a small picnic area. Occasionally the Jones Creek Trail floods, so rubber boots may be necessary in wet times. Visitors are advised to bring mosquito spray and drinking water.
San Bernard NWR
Continue northwest on TX 36 to FM 2611, then west on FM 2611 to FM 2918. Proceed south on FM 2918 to CR 306, then west on CR 306 to San Bernard NWR.
The 27,414-acre refuge is located in Brazoria and Matagorda counties, 12 miles west of Freeport. The refuge includes coastal prairie, both salt and fresh-water marshes, freshwater lakes, and scattered woodlands. Although all of the refuge is worth exploring (at least the parts that are accessible), try the 3-mile Moccasin Pond auto loop and Scissor-tail Trail if pressed for time. In wet years Moccasin Pond loop will have abundant waterfowl and herons. The grassy edges host a few Sprague's Pipits in winter and the grasslands have LeConte's and Grasshopper sparrows. Ash-throated Flycatchers frequently inhabit the woods on the Scissor-tailed Trail during winter. Also try walking the Bobcat Woods Trail, an elevated boardwalk that offers an excellent view of Cocklebur Slough. Bobcat Woods often has spring and fall migrants and in winter can have Brown Creeper and Ash-throated Flycatcher. Watch for the resident Barred Owls.