Texas City Loop
- Texas City-La Marque Chamber of Commerce, (409) 935-1408, www.texascitychamber.com
John M O'Quinn I-45 Estuarial Corridor
Travel north from Galveston Island on I-45 to TX 146, exiting on TX 146 for Texas City and the John M. O'Quinn I-45 Estuarial Corridor. The marshes that extend from Galveston Bay (Virginia Point) north to TX 146 are part of an estuarial corridor being developed by Scenic Galveston. There is an observation station near the intersection of I-45 and TX 146, and the marshes themselves can be birded from the service road bordering both sides of I-45. Herons, egrets, spoonbills, and rails may be seen feeding within a few feet of the highway.
Before heading north, plan to visit La Marque Highland Bayou Park in La Marque. To
get to the park, take the Main St. exit from I-45 and follow the southbound feeder road approximately 0.25 mile. Turn right at the park sign. This 100-acre city park contains a lake and wetlands that attract a wide variety of birds. The park has trails and a viewing platform. Return south on I-45 to reach TX 146 and the next site.
Amoco Settling Ponds & Swan Lake
Travel north on TX 146 to Loop 197, then continue north on Loop 197 approximately 1.3 miles to the Amoco Settling Ponds and Swan Lake. The settling ponds to the west may be viewed from the shoulder of Loop 197. The ponds attract waterfowl in the winter, and several species of diving ducks such as Bufflehead, Canvasback, and Redhead are regularly seen here.
Texas City Dike
Continue north on Loop 197 to 2nd Ave. in Texas City, then go east on 2nd Ave. to Bay St. Travel north on Bay St. to 8th Ave. and the Texas City Dike. The 5-mile drive to the end of the Texas City Dike is always worthwhile in winter. Loons (Common regularly, Pacific and Red-throated rarely) may be seen during a leisurely drive out the dike.
Bay Street Park
Return to the base of the Texas City Dike, and go north on Skyline Dr. Sprague's Pipits winter in the closely cropped grass on the shoulders of this hurricane levee. Notice the observation tower approximately 0.5 mile north of the base of the dike on Skyline Dr. The lake that may be viewed from this platform often attracts several species of ducks in the winter, including large flocks of Ruddy Ducks. Reaching the northern end of Skyline Dr., turn west and continue to Bay St. and Bay St. Park (Bay St. will eventually circle back to the south, and the park will be located to the east). An extensive hummingbird garden has been developed at this location. Several species of hummingbirds regularly winter along the coast, and this garden should be checked throughout the winter months. A series of nature trails wind through the park.
TNCT Galveston Bay Preserve
Return south on Bay St. to 9th Ave., then turn west on 9th Ave. (FM 1764) and continue to TX 146. Go north on TX 146 to the preserve. This 2,303-acre preserve features rare coastal prairie habitat and is home to a variety of wintering, breeding, and migratory grassland and waterbird species including Seaside Sparrow, Least Bittern, Clapper Rail, Bobolink, Sprague's Pipit, and Upland Sandpiper. Access is restricted; call well in advance for individual trips or to learn about scheduled tours.
(409) 941-9114 http://nature.org/texas