Overview of the Day
Meeting Site: Newly Renovated Hampton Inn & Suites in Port Arthur.
A hot breakfast is available at 5:30am for guests staying at the hotel.
Our bus and driver are provided by the Port Arthur Visitors & Convention Bureau. We will board the bus at 6:30 a.m. at the Hampton Inn and depart no later than 6:40 a.m. We will return to the Hampton Inn at 5:00 p.m.
Boxed lunches will be provided for the trip.
Our spring migration adventure begins at our first birding stop at a coastal Marsh in Sabine, TX. Here we will look for resident Seaside Sparrows, lingering Nelson’s sparrows that over wintered, marsh and sedge wrens among other marsh inhabitants.
Our next hotspot is known as Sabine Woods, a sanctuary owned by the Texas Ornithological Society (TOS).
The TOS Sabine Woods is a prime example of what we call an oak mott. This neotropical bird sanctuary is an excellent site for spring migration of warblers, vireos, thrushes and other songbirds. The ground of an oak mott, is usually slightly higher than the surrounding area with Live Oak trees (Quercus virginiana), Hackberry (Celtis sp.) Mulberry (Morus sp.), flowering shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers growing under the canopy and around the edges. This grove of plant diversity provides the major habitat for miles around for migrant woodland species of birds. These oak motts become what we call migrant traps because the woodland species of birds use them as a stopover habitat for feeding and resting during migration. The TOS has added valuable fresh water drips and ponds that are critically important for the birds. Often times the species are concentrated in these relatively small woodlands and on a good day, we could have 15 or more of the 36 possible species of warblers in this relatively small woodland. Additionally, there are thrushes, tanagers, vireos, orioles, flycatchers, and many other species possible that are migrating north to their breeding range. The length of time that we spend here will depend upon the bird activity. If there are a number of migrants then we will spend more time. If fewer migrants we will travel by van to other sites to look for non-woodland migrants and return to Sabine Woods in the afternoon.
When we leave Sabine Woods, our next stop will be the nearby Sea Rim State Park. Part of the park opens to the Gulf of Mexico with a sandy beachfront where we might find swallows, gulls, terns, pelicans, sandpipers, plovers, and a variety of other shorebirds. The remainder of the park’s habitat consists of low sand dunes, coastal marsh, and valuable shallow freshwater depressions if we have had rain. This variety of habitat offers great birding opportunities. Any of 35 species of shorebirds are possible as well as 9 species of terns, along with gulls, rails, and raptors overhead. After birding this gem of coastal habitat we will travel to McFaddin Wildlife Refuge.
The road from Sabine Woods to McFaddin Wildlife Refuge cuts through coastal marsh with scattered trees and shrubs that could hold any of the migrating warblers or songbirds so we may stop to check some of these small tree clusters. At McFaddin Wildlife Refuge and the surrounding area, the habitat consists of various species of salt marsh grasses, cane, bayous, and channels. Here we’ll look for rails, egrets, herons, gulls, terns, orchard orioles, common yellowthroat, and watch the skies for swallows, hawks, and a variety of other migrants that will be passing through.
We will pick a nice spot for lunch around noon.
After lunch, we’ll resume birding and could move back and forth between the coastal marsh and the oak mott depending on the activity of migration. Either way, on a good day, we will see lots of birds and great species diversity in a relatively undeveloped area of the coastal marsh.
The trip will end at 5:00 p.m. back at the Hampton Inn.
We suggest that you arrive Sunday evening and get a good night’s rest at our lodging partner hotel, The Hampton Inn & Suites. The field trip will leave bright and early at 6:30 on Monday morning. You are responsible for making your own reservations for your accommodations and the price of the trip does not include your lodging and meals except for the box lunch provided on Monday. The special hotel rate of $110/night + tax is being offered to those registered for the field trip. To reserve your room, please call 409-722-6999 and identify yourself as a 2020 FeatherFest registrant.
This field trip is sponsored by the Port Arthur Convention & Visitors Bureau.