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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Texas in the Fall (1 Viewer)

jmmorton

Well-known member
My wife and I are doing a Texas Road Trip in October with the view to doing a mixture of Birding and Culture/Sightseeing. Our itinerary is as follows:

Arrive Austin 3rd October
Baytown, Houston for 5 nights
San Antonio for 3 nights
Hill Country, Fredericksburg area for 2 nights
Austin for 3 nights departing 17th October.

Any information on must visit birding sites would be truly appreciated. I understand it is not the same as in Spring but had provisionally planned on:

Hawk Watch at Smith Point near Anahuac for raptor migration
Anahuac and surrounding areas
Bolivar Peninsular
Brazos Bend State Park
Attwater Prairie Chicken Reserve
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (Fredericksburg)

Any hot tips on where to go or avoid would be perfect and likewise any do's or don'ts. I've been to Florida a few times so seen many of the shorebirds but would love to see things like Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and some of the woodpeckers that reside in this area.

Many thanks in advance for any information.

Jonno :t:
 

Colton

New member
Hi Jonno,

I live near Austin, Texas, and would be happy to give you some info. I’m not sure what’s on you’re species target list but I can recommend some great spots.

I‘m currently building a website specifically for birders looking for info on Texas birding locations. Several of the locations I’m about to recommend are included there, and I’ll have several more added by early October. Check it out, I think it will be helpful.

https://birdinglocations.com/map/

Don’t worry about finding a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. With as much traveling and birding as you’ll be doing, you’ll see at least a few, if not dozens. During the fall they travel in groups as they migrate south.
Woodpeckers should be easy enough as well. The only difficult one you would need to target is Red-cockaded Woodpecker north of Houston.

Austin must visits:
-Hornsby Bend & Commons Ford. Both are worth a full morning, especially Hornsby.
-Pace Bend Park is a further drive northwest but good for Hill Country species (Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Common Raven, Verdin, Lesser Goldfinch). You might also get some of these in Fredericksburg.

Houston:
-I would recommend putting Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge at the top of your Texas hotspot list. This is one of my favorite places to bird in the whole state. Skip the Skillern Tract, go straight for the main refuge area.
-Not sure if Bolivar Flats is worth your time in October, especially since you already saw some shorebirds in Florida. Use eBird to make the call yourself.
-Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR. A long drive from Baytown but on the way to San Antonio. If you want a chance at seeing a Greater Prairie Chicken, call the refuge and ask about the van tour that takes you to the back of the refuge. They’re free but you have to reserve a spot ahead of time. Also if you have time, the back county roads around the refuge can be great for birding as well. Rice Field Road, Beckendorff Road, and pretty much any others in the area.
-As for the rest of the immediate Houston area, I’m not as familiar with. Tons of birders in that area though if you can find a local group to reach out to for more info. I’m sure the hawk watch would be fun, but it might not get you any additional new species.
Hotspots to look into: Texas City Dike (great for gulls, rarities sometimes show up here), San Jacinto Battleground (both for birds and the history/sightseeing), Brazos Bend State Park is very good for birding, good for Pileated Woodpecker and Barred Owl. Tons of other spots in the area, depends on what birds you’re going for.

San Antonio:
-Mitchell Lake Audubon Center is wonderful, it’ll get you some south Texas species (Least Grebe, Curve-billed Thrasher, Long-billed Thrasher, maybe Green Kingfisher or Harris’s Hawk).
-Warbler Woods, which is a private residence that is also a bird sanctuary. Go to their website, find the email contact form, and send a short message saying you’re a visiting birder. Include what day and time you’ll arrive. Susan will reply with a gate code for you to get in. Make sure to visit the large bird blind in the back yard.
-Choke Canyon is a bit of a drive, 1.5 hours south, but is worth it if you can manage. More south Texas species like Green Jay, Vermillion Flycatcher, Greater Roadrunner, Pyrrhuloxia. Common Pauraque calling at first/last light.

Fredericksburg:
-Enchanted Rock is a wonderful hiking and scenic area. The birding is ok. Good for Canyon Towhee, Canyon Wren. Maybe Rock Wren. Last October when I was there, there was a south wind with full cloud cover and I had some good migrating flyovers. Sandhill Cranes, American Kestrels, a Peregrine Falcon.
-South Llano River State Park is within striking distance. A bit of a drive. Check eBird, see if it’s worth it to you.

Again, check my website I posted above. It goes into more detail about some of these sites, plus others, and may help you choose where to bird. Hope this helps!
 

rylirk

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Can definitely reccommend South Llano in Junction, that's the site that got me into birding in the first place ;) Not sure if the various buntings will still be around in fall, but it's chock full of them in summer
 

jmmorton

Well-known member
Thank you all for your responses, especially Colton and apologies for the delayed acknowldgement. You provide some fantastic and invaluable information.

In light of the recent storms and floods in the Houston area, we have changed our plans for the first 6 days and are now heading down to McAllen and the Lower Rio Grande Valley which I'm very excited about. Lots of different habitats to explore and hopefully lots of new birds to find. We may take in Choke Canyon on the way back to San Antonio. We have lots of information to hand about the area. I think the San Antonio days will all be sight seeing before heading up to Fredricksburg area for a few days. We may get a couple of mornings in around Austin so again, thanks for the noted sites, particularly Hornsby Bend.

Appreciate all your input

cheers

Jonno
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
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