Boca Chica Loop

More Information:

TX 48 Scenic Drive
LTC 039

This site is open for day use only.

At the intersection of TX 100 and TX 48, go south on TX 48 to Brownsville, passing an extensive area of tidal flats and lomas (clay mounds that rise above the surrounding tidal flats and are covered with native Tamaulipan brush, including the locally common Spanish Dagger Yucca). Lomas are a favored habitat of the Ocelot, a federally-listed endangered cat, found in the U.S. only in South Texas. There is a pull-off with parking on the right by the inlet channel for the Bahia Grande and waterbirds congregate where the channel meets the laguna waters. Reddish Egrets are often present here, sometimes in numbers. Continue southwest on TX 48 to the boat ramp and fishing access, and scan the roosting gulls, terns, and shorebirds. The tidal flats are often covered with shorebirds and waterbirds such as the Reddish Egret. Watch for Aplomado Falcons perched atop the yuccas along this scenic drive.

Latitude: 25.9841
Longitude: -97.3311

NOAA Brownsville Weather Forecast Office
LTC 040

This site is open for day use only.

Continue south on TX 48 to its intersection with TX 4 in Brownsville. Go east on TX 4 approximately 3 miles to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Brownsville Weather Forecast Office. Please do not enter the facility; park adjacent to the site. A moment’s detour to this site could yield a Chihuahuan Raven. Look for an occasional White-tailed Kite (in the winter) and Loggerhead Shrike by scanning the open field of the airport and take a moment to scan the adjacent wooded lot dense with native plants and palm trees.

Latitude: 25.9102
Longitude: -97.4191

Brownsville Sanitary Landfill
LTC 041

This site is open for day use only.

Continue east on TX 4 to FM 511. Go north on FM 511 approximately 1.5 miles turn right, follow the road to the entrance to the Brownsville City Landfill. The landfill is open from 7:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., and is closed on Sundays and holidays. As you enter the landfill, turn right and follow the road to the scale station. You must stop at the scale station and sigh-in for bird viewing. Ask for directions to the viewing areas. This landfill used to be famous for wintering Tamaulipas Crows, but recent records are all of small numbers of birds in spring, and they are missed more years than they are found. Recent changes in landfill practices have reduced the numbers of crows present. However, the landfill has become recognized as one of the best spots in Texas (if not the U.S.) to find vagrant gulls. In recent years Black-tailed and Slaty-backed Gulls have both been recorded at the landfill, along with an impressive variety of rare gulls such as Lesser Black-backed, California, and Thayer’s. One of the most recent sightings was the California Gull. Spring (when Franklin’s Gulls may be present in small numbers) appears to be the best time to find these rarities, so while searching for the crows be sure to scope the immense flocks of gulls, Great-tailed Grackles, and Chihuahuan Ravens that are also attracted to the landfill.

 

Latitude: 25.9389
Longitude: -97.3938

Sabal Palm Sanctuary
LTC 042

This site is open for day use only.
An entrance fee or donation may be required.

Continue south on FM 511. Cross TX 4 and continue to the merger of FM 511 and FM 3068 (FM 511 will veer to the right), continue south on FM 3068 to FM 1419. Turn west (right) on FM 1419 and go 0.6 mile to the entrance to the Sabal Palm Sanctuary, turn left, and proceed a half mile then turn left on Sabal Palm Grove Road. Drive 1 mile through the Border wall and over the levee until you reach the Rabb Plantation House. Proceed to the inside of the house where you will need to register to visit the trails. The lower extent of the Rio Grande was once bordered by 40,000 acres of Texas Sabal Palm forest. Now reduced to about 550 acres, the sanctuary is home to roughly 30 acres of Sabal Palm forest, the largest remaining fragment in the Unites States. In addition to its magnificent palms, many species of flora and fauna reach their northernmost range here in Deep South Texas. Some of these Mexican specialties are present at the sanctuary, including Green Jay, Chachalaca, Olive Sparrow, Green King Fisher, Least Grebe, Buff-bellied Hummingbird and Great Kiskadee.

A butterfly garden has been developed behind the Visitors Center and often provides a great opportunity to see a good variety of butterflies and other insects. The sanctuary has about 3 miles of walking trails (no bikes allowed), including a trail that borders an old Resaca with observation decks, providing nice views of assorted waterfowl species. Another trail leads right down to the Rio Grande River, where visitors can observe the real Border with Mexico.

Since 2010, the sanctuary is operated by Gorgas Science Foundation, a small 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to promoting conservation through education.

(956) 541-8034
http://sabalpalmsanctuary.org

Latitude: 25.8588
Longitude: -97.4174

Boca Chica Beach / the USFWS Boca Chica Tract
LTC 043

This site is open for day use only.

Go east on FM 1419 toward FM 3068. Stay on FM 1419, which eventually curves north back toward TX 4. Go east on TX 4 to Boca Chica Beach and the USFWS Boca Chica Tract. TX 4 continues east to the Gulf of Mexico and Boca Chica Beach. The road crosses wide expanses of coastal grasslands and lomas, and skirts South Bay. Check the posts and yuccas for Aplomado Falcons, as well as Merlins and Peregrine Falcons in migration. Harris's Hawk and Chihuahuan Raven may be seen along this drive as well. Willets, Horned Larks, and Wilson's Plovers nest in the flats that border the road, and Botteri's Sparrows are found in the sacahuiste, singing during spring and summer from low shrubs and fence wires. Directly opposite the Border Patrol checkpoint is an excellent stand of sacahuiste where Botteri's Sparrows are common. Try to be there as early in the morning as possible before the wind becomes strong. During winter and in migration, the telephone poles along TX 4 may support as many as 100 Ospreys. You can access USFWS properties via the fishing access roads marked with public entry signs. Eventually you will reach the pavement's end and Boca Chica Beach. You may drive (carefully—the sand is soft) south toward the mouth of the Rio Grande, or north toward the jetties that protect the entrance to the Port of Brownsville. Brown Booby has been seen (very rarely) roosting on this jetty, and Piping Plover and other shorebirds are often common on the beach. During spring migration Red Knots may be present along the water's edge as well as most of the region's nesting and migrant terns. The Bonaparte's Gull is more common in winter and early spring at the mouth of the Rio Grande than anywhere else in the region. After south winds an interesting assortment of marine creatures accumulate on this beach. Avoid the Portuguese Man-of-War's blue, football-shaped floats with its stinging tentacles.

Latitude: 25.9758
Longitude: -97.1974

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