Overview of the Day
Meeting Site: Newly Renovated Hampton Inn & Suites in Port Arthur.
Preparation for the Field
We will travel together by bus. Please be aware that for most of the day we will be walking and standing while in the field. While the trails are in fairly good condition they are not manicured, so have some rough spots. If it has rained recently there could be water/mud in some sections of the trails. There are not many benches or other places to sit. So if you want to bring a lightweight stool or chair you may do so. Mosquitoes will be present in several sites so bring your preferred repellant. The large female mosquitoes are sometimes confused with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds which will be migrating through.
A hot breakfast is available at 6:00 a.m. for guests staying at the hotel.
We depart the Hampton Inn no later than 6:40 a.m. We 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. This site will require a walk of about 100 yards over a reasonably good trail but with some rough spots.
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 each drive to other sites to look for non-woodland migrants and return to Sabine Woods in the afternoon.
When we leave Sabine Woods, we will each drive to 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. Seven species of Swallows, and seventeen species of hawks are possible migrants. This variety of habitat offers great birding opportunities.
After birding this gem of coastal habitat we will travel to McFaddin Wildlife Refuge.
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. Most likely at Sabine woods if it is not too crowded or back at Sea Rim State Park.
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 $99/night + tax is being offered to those registered for the field trip. To reserve your room, please click here for the FeatherFest Booking page.
Port Arthur residents rave about these sandwiches made in the Amuny’s Liquor deli on traditional po’ boy bread. You’ll be able to choose one of these:
- Original Po’ Boy with ham, salami, provolone and relish
- Smoked Turkey with Jalapeno Cheese (owner’s fave)
- Cajun Roast Beef with cheese
- Ham and Cheese
- Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, or Dr Pepper
- Assorted bags of chips
VIP: FeatherFest field trippers will get a VIP bag of swag to remember your visit.
Post your pictures with #birdportarthur, #lovepatx and #flavorsofpatx
Tuckered out from all the fun? Stay another night at the Hampton’s great rate and hit Museum of the Gulf Coast and take a gator selfie and rock out with a replica of Janis Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche. Start planning at www.visitportarthurtx.com
Note: The FeatherFest Port Arthur field trip is a great trip for anyone working on their Texas Ornithological Society Century Club lists. You could rack up a good number of birds for Jefferson County on this field trip!