Texas Volume Five: Spring Break South Padre Island

We first birded South Padre Island on the Gulf Coast with Nate and AJ, who explained a kind of feud between two of the main birding spots.  The Convention Center to the north is free to park and explore the boardwalks.  The birding and nature center to the south has a fee with an official turnstile making it totally legit.

It's a little confusing but this article explains it well.  All you need to know is that the result is two separate boardwalks that are often ridiculously close together:

We visited both spots the first day we went out there and both were sweet.  The parking lot at the nature center had a nice little spot for butterflies.

Queen butterfly, I believe

We paid a machine and went out to the boardwalk to find a bunch of birds waiting for us, like my lifer American Golden-Plover.  Okay.

Or at least I hope that's what it is. 

Mottled Ducks are the opposite of interesting birds, but here is a pair anyway.

The boardwalk leads out to the Gulf where Black Skimmer and tern parties were happening.

A Reddish Egret was dancing around and catching fish.

Back in the marshier area of the boardwalk we found some random birds like a Pectoral Sandpiper.

American alligators really spiced up the scene.



The boardwalk offered no shortage of heron-crushing opportunities. 

 Green Heron no fishy

Green Heron yes fishy

 Chill Red-eared slider

Over at the Convention Center the birding was quite similar.  

 Tricolored Heron

It was a bit closer to the beach though so evidence of spring break was more apparent.

Kites and skimmers getting along

 Nate and Sarah and a grackle getting along

Texas is swimming in cool spiders and insects and it's not fair.  Wah. 

The next afternoon we decided to return to the convention center to make another try at Least Bittern, and hopefully get better looks at Clapper Rail.  Success all around!   I think Sarah found both birds for us.

Easy peasy.  After the boardwalk we walked out onto the beach to get up close and personal with the skimmers, terns, gulls, and shorebirds.

Eric and the tiniest motorcycle man

 Max and his new red pick-up truck.  Jk. 

We found a pile of plovers that made me doubt our earlier sighting of American Golden-Plover.  This group of birds (there were more than shown in the photo below) looked to have one or two potential goldens in it but when they flew they all had those dreaded black armpits making them Black-bellied.

I need to spend more time with Golden-Plovers. 

 Ruddy Turnstone

 Royal and Sandwich Tern friends

Friendless Forster's Tern

Laughing/Penguin Gulls

 So royal. 

Here is what you do after you trudge through a pile of resting birds into a fenced off area and scare everything up into the air:

South Padre treated us well despite the fact that it was spring break and that is a huge thing there.

Good times!!!!  eBird checklists from the Birding and Nature Center here, and from the Convention Center here and here


  1. My specialty is running ahead of the group to "find" birds for everyone. You're welcome. ;) Great shot of Max and the truck there. Too bad you didn't get any pick of me and Nate and the grackle fighting.

    1. Yeah I wasn't sure the internet was ready for photos of you and Nate wrestling innocent grackles.

  2. I remember those birds. I loved them.

  3. Wouldn't it be cool to get to spend more time with Plovers of all kinds, I just read a post about the convention center vs the nature center on the LRG facebook page, seems both have something to offer.
    Hope your Plover turns out to be Golden..

    1. Both are great spots, since they're pretty much the same spot.

  4. I forgot what a giant Eric is.


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