The Nature Group, led by Mark Kulstad traded photo tips for recording some of the most impressive water birds (and other kinds of birds) that are present in the Greater Houston area on Sunday, February 19th. With only a short drive of 20 minutes or so members arrived near the intersection of the Westpark Tollway and Hwy 6, ready to view some of the winged wonders that cluster in and around the large ponds there. Expert bird watcher and ARRUF Nature Group director Mark Kulstad led ARRUF’s annual bird walk at this location.
When Mark was with other retired faculty Owls at the site in previous years, lots of big, showy birds were in evidence, including American White Pelicans, both species of Texas cormorants, wintering ducks of several species, the occasional Roseate Spoonbill and Black-crowned Night-Heron, Bald Eagle and Osprey, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, White Ibis, etc. Since over 200 species of birds have been recorded at the park, there are lots of other interesting birds present also, although the smaller ones can be harder to see clearly.
For a more thorough listing of the birds of the immediate area, with bird photos, see https://ebird.org/hotspot/L366758/media?yr=all&m=
The site, as mentioned, is near Westpark Tollway and Hwy 6 and is one of the new parkland areas in the Houston area, ones associated with flood prevention retention basins — in the present case, along Brays Bayou. As a side benefit, it has great walking opportunities and has been amazingly successful at attracting birds. It is also a place where there is actually a tall hill, from which you can see a surprising amount of the west Houston skyline. (Walking up is optional, but fun.) If you are interested in going there independently, the basic guidance, including detailed directions, are below:
Go to parking lot (free) for Brays Bayou Park, accessible only from Hwy 6, on Schiller Road, aa bit less than 1/2 mile east of Hwy 6. NB: the parking lot is neara big hill overlooking water. As you drive east on Schiller Road from Texas Hwy 6, that big hill will soon provide an unmistakeable landmark ahead on the right. People using their own directions have had to deal with confusing park names and sometimes have had trouble finding the lot. Follow the instructions above for an easy trip. As an aid, here is an approximate address for GIS systems: 14108 Schiller Road. More exact coordinates for the parking lot itself are 29.71815, -85.8356.