Home > Birding > Birding Galveston – Day 5: Galveston Island State Park

Birding Galveston – Day 5: Galveston Island State Park

For my final day, I decided to walk a few of the short trails at Galveston Island State Park and then drive home after lunch. The park is located in the middle of Galveston Island. The headquarters is located on the gulf (east) side of the island and the trails are located on the bay side. The HQ is notable in that they offer two of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail maps for free: Upper and Central coast. The information on the maps is available online, but I find having these beautiful maps in a physical format very handy. As Jim pointed out just a few days after I got my maps, TPWD has updated the Coastal Birding Trail maps, including the addition of GPS information. The online maps still do not have GPS information, so it appears they may not get updated.

My first stop was Duck Lake Trail (aka, Short Trail). Two ponds are available for viewing with the one closest to the entrance providing the best views. I only saw one Snowy Egret, but back at the car, I did see two large hawk-like birds in a very distant tree near 13 Mile Road. They definitely looked different to me, but I wasn’t able to identify them until I got home. Then I was easily able to determine they were White-tailed Kites! That’s a new one for my list. I now wish I had gone down the road to better see them. The picture is unfortunately not good enough to post here.

I drove to the northern edge of the park, but nothing noteworthy was seen. On the drive to the observation tower, I saw a couple of birds in the water near Oak Bayou. This was a memorable stop. One was a Willet. That’s not interesting, but it was amazing that he kept walking towards me. That just does not happen. I just kept snapping photos until eventually he turned around. The other bird was interesting, because it was a Tricolored Heron. This is a much better photo than the previous one.

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

I parked at the entrance to Clapper Rail Trail (CRT) and it was a very short walk to the observation tower. From here is an excellent view of the park, particularly the wetlands to the bay. I could see a few birds wading, but nothing new and they were relatively far away. I could see that Clapper Rail Loop was flooded so that was out. I was planning to take CRT, but a bright yellow bird singing loudly on Caracara Trail caused me to detour. I was apparently not worth noticing, because I had no problem creeping closer until I was about 15 feet away.

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark

A Meadowlark, likely Eastern. What I have since learned is that it can be almost impossible to tell Eastern from Western. The best identification method is by song. If I had known this at the time, I would have recorded video. The rest of the trail was fairly quiet with only some Shrikes and Mockingbirds. Upon reaching the trail crossing at the road, I elected to return to CRT, partially because I did not see the rest of Caracara Trail.

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

CRT was uneventful but mostly nice. Several areas were washed out (and this at low tide). I eventually gave up and headed back. While not very birdy that day, I thoroughly enjoyed walking the trails here. I had the park almost to myself and mosquitoes were almost non-existent. Not pictured are the following sightings:

  • Common Buckeye
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Neotropic Cormorant
  • Pied-billed Grebe

I debated trying for the painted churches on my way home since I missed them on the way down, but decided to just head home instead. And that concludes my Galveston trip, finally. I may or may not do an overview post later of recommendations. I hope you have enjoyed this, my first true birding trip.

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