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Lake Conroe

January 30, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments
W. Goodrich Jones State Forest

W. Goodrich Jones State Forest

November saw us make the annual trek out to East Texas for the Texas Renaissance Festival. Almost did not go, but I had timeshare points to burn, so onwards we went. I had wanted to spend 3 nights at Lake Conroe, but availability was not great, so we spent the first night in The Woodlands. Somewhat by chance, the hotel was next door to the W. Goodrich Jones State Forest.

Gulf Fritillary

There’s a good map on the site. It states the office is only open on the weekdays and they are not kidding. The lot is closed off and there is no getting in. It took us a few minutes to find a proper entrance. We parked on the south side of FM 1488, in the northwest corner of the park, by the large lake.

IMAG0292

The main attaction here is the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. This is probably the furthest west that you will find it. I will go ahead tell you, we did not see it. We walked some 4.6 miles through the forest and saw few birds. The majority were near the entrance or along the western edge. The latter borders houses, and the birds were happily going back and forth between the feeders and the forest. I did get some nice photos of butterflies.

Sulphur

We spent the next two nights at a timeshare on Lake Conroe. While I would not stay there again, it was nice being on the lake when we weren’t blinded by the sun reflecting off the water. There were a few ducks and coots under our balcony and one Great Blue Heron a couple doors down. Just up the road is Sam Houston National Forest. We spent too long at WG Jones SF, so we had little time here. This was not a total loss, as it turns out that all the trails were closed. The drought was apparently bad enough that the large number of dead trees were a safey hazard. However, after getting home I still could not find this information on the web site, though it seems to be there now.

View from our balcony.

View from our balcony.

Since the shores were still open, we went ahead and paid the entrance fee, as I really wanted to search for Bald Eagles or other large wintering birds. None found, of course, but dozens of vultures filled the trees. It was a nice walk on the ‘beach’ and we did see our highlight, which was a female Belted Kingfisher. Even with 600mm of focal length it was still pretty blurry, so no photos of that. The visitor’s bureau has a fantastic birding brochure. If you going, check this out first.

American Coot under our balcony.

While not a productive trip, it was nice weather and East Texas forest is always relaxing. If I were to do it again, I think I would pay for a birding boat tour of Lake Conroe, weather permitting.

Best bird photo and pose of the trip.

Best bird photo and pose of the trip.

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Categories: Birding
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