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.
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.
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.
Over at the Convention Center the birding was quite similar.
It was a bit closer to the beach though so evidence of spring break was more apparent.
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.
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.
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.