Sabine Woods Feeds the Soul

Chestnut-sided Warbler bird in water, feathers ruffled by Paul Gregg, Sabine Woods, Port Arthur Texas

Into the Woods!

Into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”  – John Muir

Birder/photographer Paul Gregg has this quote on a favorite T-shirt. Where might he wear that shirt?

“During the spring months of March through May, I mentally modify the quote to read, ‘Into Sabine Woods I go, to search for birds, and feed my soul.’ ” Gregg says.

Sabine Woods’ Wonders

White-Eyed Vireo on a leaf at Sabine Woods in port arthur, texas

Port Arthur’s Sabine Woods attracts Neotropical migrants to the first land these birds see as they fly north.

“The spring migration of birds is a wonder to behold, as millions of birds have left their wintering locations in Central and South America and have headed northward toward their breeding grounds in Northern America and Canada. Weather permitting, thousands of birds that have gathered on the Yucatan Peninsula will begin their flight to the Gulf Coast. Upon arrival from a 15 hour, 500 or 600 mile overnight trans-Gulf flight they arrive at many Texas coastal regions to rest, forage, bathe for a short period of time before they continue their northward journey,” Gregg says.

Who’s Out There?

Painted bunting on a stick at Sabine Woods in port arthur, texas by Paul Gregg
Painted Bunting by Paul Gregg

Warblers, vireos, tanagers, grosbeaks, buntings, flycatchers, orioles and others are often likely to arrive in numbers, Gregg says. Drips, ponds, mulberry trees, oaks and leafy ground cover provides nourishment and views. Gregg says Sabine Woods, about 4.5 miles west of Sabine Pass on Texas 87, is his VERY favorite spring birding locale.

Golden Triangle Audubon Society

Texas Ornithological Society owns the woods and Golden Triangle Audubon Society members maintain them.

“In the woods on any given day during migration, one can find GTAS members present, who are fortunate to live just a few minutes’ drive from the woods,” Gregg says.

Many days, visitors may be there who are from other states and even far off locales like Japan and Europe. The locals are always so helpful to point out what part of the woods they have observed a particular species and they are always ready to help identify birds that are new to observers.

Walk the Trails

Blue-Winged Warbler at Sabine Woods, port arthur, texas
Blue-Winged Warbler by Paul Gregg

Some will take visitors on an informal walk around the trails, searching for birds under the canopy of the large, stately oaks. Sometimes Green Herons, Louisiana Waterthrushes and others are found at the edge of the slough that also is home of an alligator or two. Visitors may observe other species at the edge of the woods and open areas near trees.

What’s New in the Woods

New to Sabine Woods this year are two new water features where a slow drip of water falls into a hewn rock basin where birds can land and bathe. The new drips bring the total to 7, where benches are located just far enough away that birds will come without being scared away. The claim is birds are attracted to the sound of the water dripping.

Birds aren’t shy during fallout

Summer Tanager at Sabine Woods, port arthur, texas
Summer Tanager by Paul Gregg

Gregg lives in Harris County and  calls himself a fairly advanced amateur photographer who happens to love photographing birds.

“I feel welcomed into the Sabine Woods family and visit the woods as many times as I can during  migration. My favorite visits are when there’s a ‘fallout.’ That happens when incoming birds meet a northern weather front and are grounded in large numbers. In a recent fallout, Summer Tanagers, worn out from their trans-Gulf flight were not very wary of humans. One perched on a photographer’s lens and another landed on a birder’s hat. Most interesting was the one that perched on a birder’s knee to snatch mosquitoes.”

“Paul’s Peeps”

Gregg lives in Harris County and calls himself a “fairly advanced amateur photographer who happens to love capturing images of birds.”  Happily retired from the U.S. Air Force and the Harris County Adult Probation Department, he’s happy to share his photos and narrative of his visits. Gregg e-mails selected photos to more than 625 recipients who have signed up for his free “Paul’s Peeps” e mail. To join this free group, send him a note at and ask to join.

“The 104-mile drive from home to Sabine Woods is definitely worth the drive,” he proclaims.

Nearby Nature

boarwalk leading to the ocean in port arthur texas
This Sea Rim State Park boardwalk stretches to the Gulf of Mexico.

Sabine Woods  spring migration season is generally March 1-June 15. The peak is April 19 to early May.

Fall migration is generally Aug. 15-Nov. 30 with a peak of Sept. 5-Oct. 29.

Any time you are in Port Arthur, enjoy paddling, shelling or fishing at nearby areas. Visit Sea Rim State Park, McFaddin Beach, Texas Point and McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge are nearby places to enjoy birds and other natural beauty.

Feed Your Soul

Gregg says visitors are likely to spot him as he roams trails or sits on a bench awaiting the next bird to show up through his lens. He offers an invitation:

“Bring your binoculars and camera and join me as, ‘Into Sabine Woods we go, to search for birds, and feed our souls!’ ”


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