The accident of geology makes the Upper Texas Coast a beacon to weary neotropical migrants finishing a 10+ hour, nonstop flight across the Gulf of Mexico. From under an ancient sea, a salt dome emerged. After a few thousand years the dome reached just 38-feet above a pancake-flat coastal plain where it became covered with 20-30-foot oak trees, creating a vast canopy. This created High Island, which is now a beacon to weary Trans-Gulf migrants. This area provides wooded habitat that supplies food, water, and places to rest for these migrants.
A community of Texas birders of the Houston Audubon Society (HAS) created two large sanctuaries in the area – Boy Scout Woods and Smith Oaks. In time, High Island’s beacon also pulled in birders from around the world for a few weeks. One of the best features is a man-made reservoir Clay Bottom Pond. Colonial waterbirds, who prefer islands for nesting to deter mammalian predators, found the U-shaped Island in the middle the pond perfect for a rookery. Nine species of heron, egret, spoonbill, ibis, cormorant, and Anhinga nest within inches of each other. The High Island rookery offers birders a close view of the annual dramedy of waterbird nesting activity including vibrant breeding plumage, mating hustle and nestlings. Read more about High Island on the Houston Audubon website.
This trip is targeted to catch any lingering migrants and catch afternoon arrivals. We visit three HAS and Texas Ornithological Society sites. Expect the afternoon drop of dozens of neotropic migrants along with local and resident waterfowl, raptors, seabirds, shorebirds, and passerines. April weather fronts can produce 30 or more species of songbirds in a single day!
Trips are led by skilled birders with many years of migration birding experience.
This is a meet-at-site trip. Driving directions will be emailed prior to the trip.
Bring: water, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray