Home > Birding > Birding Galveston – Day 4: East Beach, Corps Woods, Bolivar Flats

Birding Galveston – Day 4: East Beach, Corps Woods, Bolivar Flats

East Beach birds

East Beach birds

I could not decide what to do on Tuesday, likely my next-to-last day. I really wanted to go to Anahuac NWR, but 2 hours to get there and another 2 to get back was not logical. The other choice was to visit East Beach since it was supposed to be great for birding. This seemed best, and my decision was made easier by the extremely dense fog that rolled in the previous night and did not lift until nearly 11am. Bereft of wi-fi, I walked to the visitor’s center for internet and spent an hour identifying the birds that I could from the first day.

What a strange bird.

What a strange bird.

Upon arriving at East Beach, I was just as confused as the previous evening. Still no one taking fees, virtually no cars, and the center looked closed. Access to the water was blocked off. I eventually found a pocket of cars to the north and parked amongst them. At the far north end of the island is where the birds were. This is quite different from the brochure claiming easy birding from your car. I guess the beach is essentially closed during the colder months, not surprisingly.



While not very cold, the high wind was not entirely pleasant. I did enjoy my time here, but most everything I had already seen. Hidden amongst all the Black Skimmers and Gulls was one Caspian Tern! That made the trip worthwhile.

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

I could not get very close to the flocks, even at low tide, since there was still plenty of water. But the birds pretty much ignored me. I think the strong wind also helped keep them grounded. There was another large flock to the west, but I did not want to trek through the sand since I couldn’t even tell if I would be able to get a good view. I wonder if there is a better access point. A tour, such as the one from Moody Gardens, might not be a bad idea. The silver lining here was seeing two dolphins jump out of the water, exactly as you would see a SeaWorld. There were also a couple of kiteboarders (I said it was windy). It is a difficult thing to photograph, because the kite is so far away from the boarder.



I am amazed that anyone could fish here, but there were two fishermen braving the waves.


After lunch, I decided to visit Bolivar Flats again, since I greatly enjoyed that earlier. But first, I stopped at Corps Woods. Take Ferry Road and look for 168 on the right, just after the Shell station. After about 3/4 miles, you’ll see the entrance to the base on the left. Directly across on the right is Corps Woods. There were several cars parked here, which seemed like a good sign. Park carefully and also watch where you step. Multiple signs warned of snakes, though I thankfully saw none. All those cars I saw? I have no idea where the people were. I saw only one couple and the woods is very small.

Well-worn Common Buckeye

Well-worn Common Buckeye

You can go left or right, both of which dead-end at a boardwalk overlooking water. I saw nothing at either. In the little time I spent here, I saw one or two mockingbirds, a phoebe, and one egret. The Woods is well-maintained so I would like to return. It is probably better in the spring. Actually, looking through my photos, there was nothing but insects.


Finding myself on the ferry again, I promptly got out and watched for Dolphins, but very few were to been seen. The most interesting scene was waiting for the ship collision that did not happen:

How did they not hit each other?

How did they not hit each other?

On the other side, I visited Fort Travis Seashore Park. This immaculate park was almost completely empty. No birds seen. When you exit Fort Travis, you’ll be on 108 if you go straight. This road is a supposed birding hotspot and loops back around to 87, the main road. The usual problem here of nothing seen and again, no way to pull over if you did see something. Where the loops runs back to 87, I found myself directly across from the entrance to Bolivar Flats, Retillion road. That’s where I wanted to be, so onwards I drove.

The Flats were very well populated and the late afternoon light was very good. There was a good variety of birds, including a Greater Yellowlegs and a Forster’s Tern. I was pleased with this excellent specimen of a Herring Gull.

Herring Gull

Herring Gull

I drove up and down the beach a couple of times. Finally, at the far south end, I spotted a large bird that didn’t match anything else I’d seen. I gradually drove closer and realized I had found a new bird, although I had no idea what it was. It stayed remarkably still and I snapped alot of photos. When I got back, I identified it as a Long-billed Curlew. Great way to end my birding day.

Long-billed Curlex

Long-billed Curlew

The trip back to shore was uneventful, although I had to wait awhile for the ferry since many people were traveling back to Galveston. The gallery has several good close-ups of sea birds and some of the interesting boats.

With a clear sky for once, I took some time to take a sunset photo from the resort.

2013-11-19_JD_0359It also happened to be a near full moon night. I drove down to the south end of the island and turned on to Estuary Drive which is pretty dark. I tried some star shots, but there was still too much city-glow and the full moon didn’t help.

MoonAll in all, a good day with 2 new bird finds. This seemed a good conclusion to my trip and decided to head home the next day after one last birding stop. Enjoy the photos in the gallery.



  1. June 29, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Great close-up of the curlew! I would love to see one of those someday. I think your dragonfly might be a Variegated Meadowhawk.

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