Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Aransas Loop

Aransas Loop map

Aransas Loop mapAransas WoodsGoose Island State ParkCopano Bay State Fishing PierRockport Demo Bird Garden and Wetlands PondConnie Hagar Cottage SanctuaryNewbury Park Hummingbird GardenRansom Road Navigation District ParkAransas Pass Community ParkLive Oak ParkAransas Pass Wetlands

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More information:

  • Rockport-Fulton Area Chamber of Commerce
    404 Broadway
    Rockport, Texas 78382-2765
    (361) 729-6445 or (800) 242-0071
  • Aransas Pass Chamber of Commerce
    452 Cleveland Blvd.
    Aransas Pass, Texas 78336
    (361) 758-2750 or (800) 633-3028

047.gif CTC 047 Aransas Woods

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Migration

Site open for day use only.

Leaving Sinton on TX 188, travel east toward Rockport. After crossing the intersection with TX 136, continue east and stop at Port Bay. Scan the bay for waterfowl and wading birds, and inspect the mudflats for shorebirds. Continue east to the intersection with TX 35 Bypass, and turn left (north) and travel for 1.6 miles to the entrance to Aransas Woods (to your right). Park at the gate and enter. During “fallouts,” coastal mottes such as Aransas Woods offer food and protection to thousands upon thousands of weary landbirds who might otherwise perish if forced to continue inland to the nearest contiguous forests. Goose Island State Park, Connie Hagar Sanctuary, and Aransas Woods are vital links in the migration chain, and no spring trip to the Texas coast is complete without a visit to these coastal woods. The site contains an observation platform contributed by the family of Robert M. Latimer as a memorial to his interest in the birds of the Texas coast. It overlooks a complex of grassland, oak motte and shallow wetlands, making this site attractive to birds and other wildlife year round.

048.gif CTC 048 Goose Island State Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Migration

Site open daily. Developed camping available. Fee charged.

Continue north on TX 35 Bypass until reaching its deadend at FM 3036. Turn right (east), and continue until the intersection with TX 35. To reach sites 48 and 49, turn left (north) on TX 35 and continue across Copano Bay on the Lyndon B. Johnson Causeway. Turn right (east) on Main Street in Lamar after the Sea-Gun Resort. Continue straight ahead to Park Road 13 and the entrance to Goose Island State Park. Notice the live oaks within the esplanade as you approach the park. During a spring cold front these trees may be congested with migrant landbirds, and the groundings or “fallouts” that have occurred here on the southern tip of the Lamar Peninsula are legendary. Travel straight to Lamar Beach Blvd. at St. Charles Bay. Turn left (north), and proceed along the bayfront, halting periodically to view the rafts of waterfowl that crowd these waters (loons, grebes, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Redhead). The road will veer left (west) on 12th Street, and you will soon approach Big Tree, the national champion Live Oak estimated to be around 2000 years old. Continue straight to Palmetto Street, and turn left to return to Park Road 13 and the entrance to Goose Island State Park. As you pass through the park (be sure to ask for a bird checklist at the entrance) look for migrants in the live-oak thickets, and search the marshes for rails, gallinules, Common Yellowthroat, and Marsh Wren. Walk the nature trail within the park if you wish to escape your auto, or simply enjoy the scenic beauty of the bay and the wind-sculpted oaks that fringe the shore. Camping facilities are available within the park.

Goose Island State Park
Star Route 1, Box 105
Rockport, Texas
(361) 729-2858

049.gif CTC 049 Copano Bay State Fishing Pier

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Migration

Site open daily. Developed camping available. Fee charged.

Return via Main Street from Goose Island State Park to TX 35, and turn left (south) toward Fulton. The Copano Bay State Fishing Pier extends from the tip of Lamar Peninsula to Fulton, and may be accessed (for a fee) from the base of the Lyndon B. Johnson Causeway. Try walking the fishing pier with a scope, and scanning the bay for loons, grebes, and diving ducks. Look for American Oystercatcher on the shell spoil islands (particularly those adjacent to the southeast corner of the causeway), and watch over the causeway itself during spring and fall for migrating hawks. Raptors are generally hydrophobic, and will fly directly along the causeway rather than over the open bay waters when migrating along the coast. Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Osprey, and Swallow-tailed Kite (rare) have been seen traversing the bridge, and a Pacific Loon appeared near the south end of the causeway in the fall of 1995.

050.gif CTC 050 Rockport Demo Bird Garden and Wetlands Pond

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migration (especially Fall)

Site open for day use only.

Enhancements: Boardwalk And Observation Platform

Continue south on TX 35 toward Rockport, and stop at the TXDOT highway rest area on the left (0.9 mile south of the intersection of TX 35 and FM 3036). Park and walk around the hummingbird garden jointly developed and maintained by TXDOT and the community of Rockport. In early September tens of thousands of hummingbirds (predominantly Ruby-throated) pass through Rockport, and the community celebrates this event with their annual Rockport Hummer/Bird Celebration (contact the Rockport-Fulton Area Chamber of Commerce for information concerning the festival). At this rest-stop garden you may study hummingbirds, as well as learn about the various native plants that may be cultivated to attract these personable sprites. A new boardwalk extends into an immense patch of Trumpet Creeper (one of the vines with flowers that attract hummingbirds) to end at a willow grove and wet slough (inspect this area in migration for landbirds). In addition, enjoy the wetland demonstration pond constructed to show the value of wetlands as a natural resource.

051.gif CTC 051 Connie Hagar Cottage Sanctuary

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migration

Site open for day use only.

Enhancements: Pond, Kiosk, All-Weather Trail

Continue south on TX 35, and stop at the Connie Hagar Wildlife Sanctuary (not to be confused with SITE 51). Search for grebes, pelicans, and waterfowl (particularly Redhead). Continue south on TX 35, staying in the left lane. Pass through the Rockport business district on Loop 70. Continue on Loop 70 (E. Market) to S. Church. Turn left on S. Church, and continue until reaching the Connie Hagar Cottage Sanctuary at E. First. Turn right on E. First, and enter the sanctuary through the entrance on your right. On this site Connie Hagar and her husband, Jack, owned and operated a small motel, the Rockport Cottages, that sheltered the pride of the ornithological world beginning in the 1930s. Connie Hagar alerted the national birding community to the enormity of the bird migrations that sweep the Coastal Bend of Texas. This sanctuary, established and maintained by the Friends of Connie Hagar, perpetuates her memory as well as the migrants that continue to stream through the oak mottes in Rockport. Although diminutive (a little over 6 acres), the Connie Hagar Cottage Sanctuary contains a surprising assortment of habitats. Multitudes of vireos, warblers, grosbeaks, flycatchers, and thrushes may jam the woods during a spring grounding, and the bordering grassy fields are frequently packed with Dickcissels, assorted sparrows, and buntings (Painted included). Check the daily bird list posted in the kiosk to see what others before you have seen. Migration is dynamic, and the collection of birds within the sanctuary may change noticeably each day.

Rockport is also the base for several boats that visit the feeding areas of the Whooping Crane at Aransas NWR in the winter, and various nesting islands for colonial waterbirds in the summer. For the best views of Whooping Crane it is advisable to go by boat (you may see Whooping Crane from the observation tower at Aransas NWR, but such views are normally distant). For boat trips to see birds, in season, contact the following (this list is not inclusive):

The Mustang
Captain Billy Gaskins
Fulton Harbor
(361) 729-2997 or (866) 729-2997
The Wharf Cat
Rockport Harbor
(800) 605-5448 or (361) 729-GULL
Pisces
Captain Eddie Polhemus
Rockport Harbor
(316) 729-7525

052.gif CTC 052 Newbury Park Hummingbird Garden

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Migration

Site open for day use only.

Enhancements: Hummingbird Garden

When leaving the Connie Hagar Cottage Sanctuary, continue west on E. First to where it deadends at TX 35. Turn left (south) on TX 35, and travel to Aransas Pass. Entering on TX 35, continue into Aransas Pass to the intersection of TX 35 and Loop 90, and then veer right on Business 35 to Lamont (when approaching this intersection on Business 35, you may turn left on Lamont at the Dairy Queen and continue straight into Newbury Park). Within this small community park, cloaked in its shroud of coastal live oaks, the City of Aransas Pass, in cooperation with TPWD and TXDOT, has developed a hummingbird garden. Built with funds from the Trail project, the Newbury Park Hummingbird Garden is a striking example of wildlife habitat created within an urban setting. Since, as in Rockport, tens of thousands of hummingbirds pass through Aransas Pass in migration, the hummingbird garden offers a relaxing and intimate place for watching and enjoying the smallest of our migratory birds. Also inspect the oaks in the park for migrant landbirds, particularly during spring cold fronts.

053.gif CTC 053 Ranson Raod Navigation District Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Migration

Site open for day use only.

From Newberry Park, continue on Harrison Boulevard south to TX 361 toward Ingleside (don’t take TX 361 east to Port Aransas yet) and turn left on Ransom Road (look for the sign to the municipal airport). Travel to the end of Ransom Road, and turn left into Ransom Road Navigation District Park. The channel may be viewed from the observation platform, so look for loons, grebes, pelicans, and diving ducks. Search the wetlands here for rails and shorebirds. Restrooms and picnic facilities are available in the park.

054.gif CTC 054 Aransas Pass Community Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Migration

Site open for day use only.

Continue south on TX 361 a short distance from Ransom Park to Johnson Avenue, and turn left into the Aransas Pass Community Park (look for the ballparks). Recently developed, this community park offers a view of Redfish Bay from the observation platform. A boardwalk into the adjoining grassy fields and wetlands is being planned, so keep an eye on this site over the next few years. Restrooms and picnic facilities are available within the park.

055.gif CTC 055 Live Oak Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: Migration

Site open for day use only.

Continue on TX 361 to Ingleside and the intersection with FM 1069 (entering Ingleside, TX 361 will swing to the west toward Gregory). Turn left (south) on FM 1069 and continue to Sherry Street and the sign to Live Oak Park. Turn left on Sherry and enter Live Oak Park. Carved out of a dense oak motte, Live Oak Park is a community facility that provides outdoor recreational opportunities as well as a nature trail. Live Oak Park is a small remnant of the extensive oak forest that once covered the coast bordering Redfish Bay. Walk the nature trail, and notice the dense red bay understory that dominates this woodland. The deep leaf litter carpeting the forest floor is particularly attractive to thrushes, thrashers, and ground-dwelling warblers such as Worm-eating, Ovenbird, Hooded, and Swainson’s (rare).

056.gif CTC 056 Aransas Pass Wetlands

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site open for day use only.

Continue on FM 1069 to the intersection with FM 2725, turn left (north) on FM 2725 and travel to the intersection with TX 361. Turn right on TX 361, and continue north to the intersection where TX 361 will swing to the right (east). Turn right and continue toward Port Aransas. Before crossing the bridge, turn left at the sign into Conn Brown Harbor (left on the dirt road, right on the paved road that proceeds into the harbor). Conn Brown Harbor is best birded in winter; search the waters here for loons, grebes, diving ducks, and pelicans. Return to TX 361, and continue east toward Port Aransas. The stretch of TX 361 between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas is bordered by Redfish Bay and associated wetlands, tidal flats, and sand spits. Stop periodically along this road (the Dale Miller Causeway) and look for waterfowl, shorebirds, loons, grebes, American Oystercatcher, Snowy Plover, and a cornucopia of water birds. Sooty Tern has been seen feeding over these waters on occasion in summer.


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