Home > Birding > Birding Galveston – Day 3: San Luis Pass, Lafitte’s Cove, Big Reef

Birding Galveston – Day 3: San Luis Pass, Lafitte’s Cove, Big Reef

After the previous day’s excitement, I stayed closer to home on my third day of birding and did not leave the main island. Since I could not find it the first time, I tried once again to visit Dos Vacas Muertas Bird Sanctuary. I managed to miss it again by one street and turned on San Jacinto Drive instead. Because it bordered next to a wetland area, I drove the length of it until it dead-ended. I was rewarded about 3/4 of the way with a Belted Kingfisher. Definitely not a great photo, but I believe it’s the best one I’ve managed in all these years.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

I completed my u-turn and landed on Seabird drive. Sanctuary had been found. This is another one that was not entirely clear where you’re supposed to go. Very muddy unpaved roads, warning about snakes (IIRC), mosquitoes, etc. Needless to say, I did not get out of the car.

I continued on to the south end of the island to San Luis Pass. I couldn’t decide whether or not to brave the unpaved road so I veered right to Estuary Drive (may not have a street sign). There are a few concrete roads that dead-end. Looking at the satellite view on Google, this is probably the site of an expansion for the adjacent development. You can also get here by turning earlier onto Baywater Drive.

It's not all birds

It’s not all birds

First thing I saw was a hawk near the entrance. And the Canadians I met the previous day! Both of us drove around taking photos of the hawk from different points of view.

Hawk

Hawk

The only other bird of interest was an American Kestrel. Over the course of my stay, I was amazed how many I saw. They are not a common site in the Hill Country. I summoned up my courage and decided to take the road less traveled (or unpaved in this case) and went to the end of the island via the bayside of the road. It was a bumpy ride, but not too bad. Any passenger car should do fine.

American Oystercatcher

American Oystercatcher

The familiar suspects were present, but I finally saw an American Oystercatcher! Unfortunately, the weather conditions were not good. High winds are particularly bad on a beach since cameras do not like sand. I stayed in the car the entire time, but did roll down the windows once when I wasn’t facing the wind.

A bit windy

A bit windy

The American Avocets, on the other hand, I maintain were not quite as bright.

Whose idea was it to face into the wind?

Whose idea was it to face into the wind?

Two or three dozen avocets were standing in the middle of nowhere, facing directly into the wind. How they didn’t fall over is beyond me. With not much else to see, I drove north to Lafitte’s Cove. Another of the “must see” locations, I believe this is more of a spring site. It was very quiet when I was there. It is a bit difficult to find, being in the middle of a neighborhood, but it’s a pretty good size with parking. The short bridge over the pond was full of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks. I had not seen them in years, so I was pretty happy about that.

So many ducks!

So many ducks!

After scaring all the ducks off (gotta cross the bridge), I walked around the trails for a while. No birds seen at all. I did hear at least 2 owls, but despite my best efforts, I could not find them. Next, I drove down Stewart Road to 8 Mile Road to Sportsman Road. These are all supposed to be great birding spots, but there is virtually nowhere to pull over. I don’t get it. I spotted a few Roseate Spoonbills, numerous Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, and one Greater Yellowlegs. All of these were on Sportsman Road, where there was less traffic and I was closer to the birds.

Great location for dolphin watching.

Great location for dolphin watching.

By now it was getting rather late in the short November day. I wrapped things up at the north end of the island, driving to the end of Seawall Boulveard. Plenty of parking here. I chatted with another photographer who was watching the dolphins play with the big ships. I left a bit later and explored the small lake just to the east of Seawall, where there were numerous herons and egrets.

Great Egret

Great Egret

By now, it was very late and I was shooting at ISO 1600 with my 6D. But the photos, as above shows, still came out very well. I am most pleased with this camera.

Unhappy Laughing Gull

Not so happy-looking Laughing Gull

One great find when looking through my photos was a Tricolored Heron, one of the things I most wanted to see.

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

Even though it was very late now, I drove down Boddeker Road to East Beach. The beach was empty and a sign mentioned paying a fee. I decided to turn around instead and go home. And that’s it for this day. Not a very productive day, but two new birds so I can’t complain. Larger versions of these photos and more are located in the Gallery.

 

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