Wednesday 29 May 2019

The Upper Texas Coast - Spring migration Trip Report

I finally managed to hit the Upper Texas Coast (UTC) for the spring migration to explore the places of birding lore like Smith Oaks, Boy Scout Woods and Sabine Woods around the town of High Island. Tag on Anahuac NR, Bolivar Flats and a slight diversion to Cape May in New Jersey and you have the makings of a very fine birding trip indeed!

  • A five day trip in late April, leaving London on Wednesday afternoon and returning overnight on Monday. This allowed three full days on the UTC, a morning in the woods north of Houston, and then nearly a full day on Cape May.
  • Afternoon flight to Houston from London put us in position for the following morning at High Island, and then back via Philadelphia which is only an hour from Cape May.
  • Texas hotels universally crappy. Winnie is the closest (20 mins) reasonably-priced accommodation from High Island as is a total dump. Suck it up and think about the birds.
  • Cape May is the off season still in late April. book a hotel in advance as most are closed, and don't arrive late thinking you can get food!
  • Typical american fare throughout. Big shout out to Al T's and Sonic Burger.
  • It gets hot in Texas, and there are lots of mosquitoes. Bring sunscreen and repellent.

  • Day 0: This was basically a travel day, getting over to Texas ready to hit the coast the following morning.
  • Day 1: Early start at Smith Oaks Sanctuary, High Island. Spent the whole day exploring here, Boy Scout Woods and the nearby area.
  • Day 2: Dawn at Anahuac NWR, a vast wetland area above High Island. Afternoon at Sabine Woods.
  • Day 3: Back to Anahuac for the morning as it was so good, High Island for a few hours around lunchtime and then across to the Bolivar Flats for the afternoon. Evening drive back to Houston.
  • Day 4: Early morning birding at the W G State Forest for a shot at Red-cockaded Woodpecker, then a lunchtime flight to Philadelphia arriving at Cape May that evening.
  • Day 5: Explored Cape May until mid afternoon, a quick stop at Heislerville WMA, and then an the red-eye back to London for a day's work.

Texas Locations

  • High Island Reserves: Boy Scout Woods, Smith Oaks Sanctuary, Hooks Woods
  • Sabine Woods, an hours drive east of High Island
  • Sea Rim State Park
  • Anahuac NWR - superb wetland reserve with a great drivable loop
  • Rollover Pass - coastal habitat halfway towards Bolivar Flats west of High Island
  • Bolivar Flats - impressive concentration of waders, gulls and terns
  • W G Jones State Forest, Houston. Surrounded by urban sprawl, this is a reliable site for Red-cockaded Woodpecker
New Jersey Locations
  • Cape May - Lighthouse, Wetlands, South Meadows, Sunset Beach
  • Heislerville Wildlife Management Area  

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