Spring migration stops at Sabine Woods, Sea Rim State Park and McFaddin Wildlife Refuge highlight Glenn Olsen’s FeatherFest field trip the Port Arthur Convention & Visitors Bureau will host from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, April 10. Hampton Inn & Suites is the host hotel. Visit the FeatherFest site to learn more.
Overview of the Day
Meeting Site: Hampton Inn in Port Arthur
Trip Itinerary: Bird Texas Ornithological Society’s (TOS) Sabine Woods, Sea Rim State Park, McFaddin Wildlife Refuge and surrounding area. Lunch around noon.
Box lunches will be provided for the trip. Lunch order forms will be sent to all registrants 2-3 weeks prior to the field trip. A hot breakfast is also included for guests staying at the hotel.
Our van driver will take us to the TOS Sabine Woods Sanctuary where our spring migration adventure begins. After birding Sabine Woods, we will bird our way to the McFaddin Wildlife Refuge.
The TOS Sabine Woods is a prime example of what we call an oak mott. This neotropical bird sanctuary is an excellent site for spring migration of warblers, vireos, thrushes and other songbirds. At an oak mott, the ground is usually slightly higher than the surrounding area with Live Oak trees (Quercus virginiana), Hackberry, Mulberry, flowering shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers growing under the canopy and around the edges. This grove of plant diversity provides the major habitat for miles around for migrant woodland species of birds. These oak motts become what we call migrant traps because the woodland species of birds use them as a stopover habitat for feeding and resting during migration. The TOS has added valuable fresh water drips and ponds that are critically important for the birds. Often times the species are concentrated in these relatively small woodlands and on a good day, we could have 15 or more of the 36 possible species of warblers in this relatively small woodland. Additionally, there are thrushes, tanagers, vireos, orioles, flycatchers, and many other species possible that are migrating north to their breeding range.
When we leave Sabine Woods, our next stop will be the nearby Sea Rim State Park. Part of the park opens to the Gulf of Mexico with a sandy beachfront where we might find sandpipers, plovers, gulls, terns, pelicans and more. The remainder of the park’s habitat consists of low sand dunes, coastal march, and valuable shallow freshwater depressions if we have had rain. This variety of habitat offers great birding opportunities. Any of 35 species of shorebirds are possible as well as 9 species of terns, along with gulls, rails, and raptors overhead.
The road from Sabine Woods to McFaddin Wildlife Refuge cuts through coastal marsh with scattered trees and shrubs that could hold any of the migrating warblers or songbirds so we may stop to check some of these small tree clusters. At McFaddin Wildlife Refuge and the surrounding area, the habitat consists of various species of salt marsh grasses, cane, bayous, and channels. Here we’ll look for egrets, herons, gulls, and terns, and watch the skies for swallows, hawks, and a variety of other migrants that will be passing through.
We will pick a nice spot under the shade of a live oak for lunch around noon.
After lunch, we’ll resume birding and could move back and forth between the coastal marsh and the oak mott depending on the activity of migration. Either way, on a good day, we will see lots of birds and great species diversity.
The trip will end at 5 p.m. back at the Hampton Inn.
The Hampton Inn has set up special pricing of $99 for our FeatherFest registrants for the night of Sunday, April 9. The price includes a complimentary breakfast for all hotel guests. Click here for a direct link to book your room.