- Conroe Convention and Visitors Bureau, (936) 522-3500, www.conroecvb.net
- Dayton Chamber of Commerce , (936) 257-2393, www.daytontxchamber.com
- Greater Conroe/Lake Conroe Area Chamber of Commerce, (936) 756-6644, www.conroe.org
- Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce, (281) 446-2128, www.humbleareachamber.org
- Liberty-Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, (936) 336-5736, www.libertydaytonchamber.com
From I-10 east of Houston, take exit 810 and head north on FM 563 for 2.9 miles to Lake Charlotte Rd. Turn left/west on Lake Charlotte Rd. and travel 1.2 miles to park entrance on the left. Located on a bluff, the trails, boardwalk and observation points overlooking Lake Charlotte and the cypress swamp that encircles the lake are excellent for observing Bald Eagles, Osprey, and cormorants fishing during the winter months. Migratory songbirds are abundant throughout the heavily wooded areas. Picnic facilities and restrooms are available in the park. The adventuresome may also want to launch their canoe or kayak into the lake for a closer view of the wildlife of the cypress swamp.
Return to FM 563 heading north to US 90 and Liberty (15 miles). Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge has an office at 601 FM 1011 in Liberty (936-336-9786) and can provide local information on birding and trails. The Liberty City Park located at the end of Cook St. has a small pond that attracts herons and egrets and a large field to the north is home to eastern bluebirds. Liberty is situated on the banks of the Trinity River with a nice view of the river at the historic bridge on US 90.
Swallow-tailed Kite Viewing Area
From Liberty, head west on US 90 to Dayton. Swallow-tailed Kites are seen daily along this river bottom section of US 90 from April to August, with July and August being best. Carefully pull off onto the highway shoulder when you see the kites: it is not uncommon to see groups of kites leisurely soaring over the trees (scan the skies _ the kites are most often seen foraging over the treetops). Mid-morning or later is the best time to search as these kites wait for thermals which make soaring a lot easier.
Champion Lake-Trinity River NWR
Continue west on US 90 until you enter Dayton and turn left onto FM 1409. Head south 10 miles to Trinity River NWR sign, turn left on CR 417 and travel east for two miles to the Champion Lake Public Use Area. Enjoy wildlife viewing from the pier and two small boat ramps on Champion Lake and Picket's Bayou. Bird the levee trail or butterfly garden trail. This 5,500-acre tract (part of the 25,000-acre refuge) is open daylight hours only. Champion Lake is home to thousands of nesting herons and egrets, wintering waterfowl, and numerous species of migrating warblers during spring and fall migration. In the spring/summer, find resident Black-bellied Whistling-ducks, Swallow-tailed Kites, Prothonotary Warbler, and Northern Parula.
(936) 336-9786 www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/trinityriver/
Sheldon Lake SP and WMA
Return to FM 1409 and head south. Turn left onto FM 565 to I-10. Take I-10 west into Houston, taking exit 781A for TX 8 Beltway. Head north on TX 8 Beltway, exit Garrett Rd., and turn right onto Garrett Rd. to reach this park. This site is most productive in winter, with flocks of waterfowl blanketing the various lakes and ponds. The surrounding weedy fields may hold a variety of sparrows, including Le Conte's. Buckhorn Lake (located further east on Garrett Rd.) is an excellent spot for Anhingas and Ospreys.
Lake Houston State Park
Head north on TX 8 Beltway to the US 59 exit. Dive north on US 59 to FM 1485, then head east to the park entrance. Situated in the San Jacinto River bottomlands along the upper reach of the lake, many of the typical eastern woodland birds may be seen along the nature trails that meander through the dense bottomland forests of this park.
(281) 354-6881 www.houstontx.gov/parks/ourparks/lakehoustonpark.html
Big Creek Scenic Area
Return west on FM 1485 to US 59. Go north on US 59 to Cleveland and FM 2025, and continue north on FM 2025 to FM 2666. The Sam Houston National Park has developed an interpretive site in a Red-cockaded Woodpecker group approximately 0.2 mile south of the intersection of FM 2025 and FM 2666. Travel east on FM 2666, north on FR 221, and then east on FR 217 to Big Creek Scenic Area. Louisiana Waterthrush nest along Big Creek, and Worm-eating Warblers have been found along the nature trails in summer. If you enjoy dragonflies, look for Gray Petaltail near the parking area.
W.G.Jones State Forest
From Cleveland, go west on TX 105 to Loop 336 near Conroe. Go south on Loop 336 to I-45, then continue south on I-45 to FM 1488. Travel west on FM 1488 to W.G. Jones State Forest. The office of the Texas Forest Service is open daily, and an information packet containing a bird checklist and a detailed map of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker clusters within the forest may be obtained there. NOTE: do not disturb these birds by playing tapes or knocking on the painted cavity trees.
Mercer Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
Return to I-45, and continue south to FM 1960/Cypress Creek Pkwy. Go east on FM 1960 to Aldine-Westfield Rd., then north on Aldine-Westfield to this site. Although primarily an urban nature center and botanical garden, Mercer Arboretum offers an opportunity to see many of the eastern woodland birds fairly close to Houston.
Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center
Return to FM 1960, and continue east on FM 1960 to Kenswick. Go north on Kenswick Dr. which dead-ends into the nature center. With over 300 acres of floodplain forest and approximately 9 miles of all-weather trails and boardwalks, visitors have a chance to experience seasonal and resident woodland and shorebird species, including Swainson's Warblers and Bald Eagles. Jones Park is located on the 33-mile-long Spring Creek Greenway Project. The nature center offers live and static displays of local wildlife and educational programs year-round, including naturalist guided walks. This park is located within a 20-minute drive from George Bush International Airport. If you wish to bird the south shore of Lake Houston return to FM 1960 and continue east. Then travel south on US 59 and east on Beltway 8 to reach Alexander Deussen Park.