Great Texas Wildlife Trails

Calhoun Loop

Calhoun Loop map

Calhoun Loop mapPort Lavaca Bird SanctuaryMagnolia BeachMagic RidgePowderhorn LakePort O'Connor/Matagorda Island State ParkSeadrift/Swan PointGuadalupe Delta Wildlife Management Area

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More information:

  • Port Lavaca/Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture
    2300 Hwy 35 Bypass
    P.O. Box 528
    Port Lavaca, Texas 77979
    (361) 552-2959
  • Port O’Connor Chamber of Commerce
    P.O. Box 701
    Port O’Connor, Texas 77982
    (361) 983-2898

030.gif CTC 030 Port Lavaca Bird Sanctuary

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Migration

Site open for day use only.

Return to the intersection of US 87 and TX 35 in Port Lavaca, and go east on TX 35 a short distance to the Port Lavaca Lighthouse Beach and Bird Sanctuary (exit to your right immediately before the bridge across Lavaca Bay). Walk out on the Formosa Wetlands Walkway to the Alcoa Birding Tower. Look in the marsh that borders the walkway for Seaside Sparrow, Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow (in winter), and Clapper Rail. The bay may be viewed from the birding tower, and you should see Brown Pelican, and a variety of gulls and terns. If you have time, drive east across the Lavaca Bay bridge toward Point Comfort and then out onto the old causeway. Search the bay and spoil islands for Common Loon, Horned Grebe (uncommon), Common Goldeneye, American Oystercatcher, and Osprey.

031.gif CTC 031 Magnolia Beach

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Migration

Site open for day use only.

From Port Lavaca travel west on TX 35 to the intersection with FM 2433. Turn left (south) and continue to the intersection with TX 238, then veer right on TX 238 and travel a short distance to the intersection with TX 316. Continue straight on TX 316 and follow the signs to Magnolia Beach and Indianola. The prairie in this region is generally intact with scattered rice fields, and in winter Sandhill Cranes, Snow Geese, and a variety of hawks (including White-tailed) abound. The rice paddies should be searched in spring for migrating shorebirds (including Wilson’s Phalarope, Hudsonian Godwit, and Buff-breasted Sandpiper). The marshes near the end of the road (near Magnolia and the LaSalle Monument) are worth a look (or listen) in spring for rails, including Black. Wander from Magnolia Beach north along the bay, and search both the beach and bay for waterbirds (a number of interesting gulls have been discovered in the area, as well as the three species of scoters).

032.gif CTC 032 Magic Ridge

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Migration

Site open for day use only.

From Magnolia Beach, continue south along Lavaca Bay to Indianola Beach. Indianola was the most significant seaport in Texas until a series of devastating hurricanes in the late 19th century led to its abandonment. Turn right on FM 316, continue about 1/4 mile, then turn right onto Zimmerman Road. Cross the cattle guard and continue toward the Old Town Cemetary. You will be at Magic Ridge, a shell ridge covered with one of the northernmost stands of native Tamaulipan Scrub and now a 78-acre avian sanctuary owned by the Texas Ornithological Society (TOS). Walk along Zimmerman Road north to the gate and south back to the cattle guard, scanning the scrub and the wetlands that straddle the road. TOS requests that you bird from the pavement to protect the habitat and to avoid trespassing on private property. Watch for scrub birds such as Curve-billed and Long-billed thrashers, Bewick’s Wren, and, in migration, hordes of songbirds and concentrations of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. The ponds along the road are productive: watch for whistling ducks, Boat-tailed Grackle, various gulls and terns, Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret, and Wood Stork (late summer). Butterflying can be rewarding; watch for Salt Marsh and Obscure skippers, Great Southern White, and the diminutive Western Pygmy-Blue.

Leaving Zimmerman Road, continue straight (south) to Powderhorn Lake and Indianola. Check the mouth of Powderhorn Lake for roosting waterbirds and American Oystercatcher.

033.gif CTC 033 Powderhorn Lake

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Migration

Site open for day use only.

Return on TX 316 to TX 238, turn left on TX 238 (toward Seadrift) and travel a short distance to FM 1289, then turn left (south) on FM 1289 toward Port O’Connor. Powderhorn Lake may be viewed from along FM 1289 where Coloma Creek crosses the highway and widens into Powderhorn Lake. At low tide the mudflats here may be crawling with shorebirds. Also watch for flights of cranes and geese at sunrise.

034.gif CTC 034 Port O'Connor/Matagorda Island State Park

Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons

Site access restricted. Call ahead.

Travel to the intersection of FM 1289 and TX 185, then go left (southeast) on TX 185 to Port O’Connor. Port O’Connor is the port of embarkation for Matagorda Island State Park. Matagorda Island is jointly managed by TPWD, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Texas General Land Office. TPWD operates a dock and ferry service at 16th and Maple in Port O’Connor to allow for pedestrian access to the island. No island on the Texas coast with public access is as unspoiled as Matagorda, and no visitor to Texas should leave without experiencing the breathtaking scenery and birdlife to be found here. Over 320 species have been catalogued by TPWD and the USFWS, including White-tailed Hawk, Whooping Crane, Brown Pelican, Peregrine Falcon, and a host of shorebirds. Call TPWD ahead for information and to reserve space on the ferry, and be sure to leave early (if not, you will arrive on the island after the dawn flurry of bird activity). Around Port O’Connor, try the mudflats at the north end of Washington Street at low tide for shorebirds.

Matagorda Island State Park
P.O. Box 117
Port O’Connor, Texas 77982
(361) 983-2215 or (361) 983-4358

035.gif CTC 035 Seadrift/Swan Point

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Migration

Site open for day use only.

Travel west on TX 185 to Seadrift. Swan Point, near Seadrift, is an excellent location for viewing San Antonio Bay. To reach Swan Point follow the signs to the public boat ramp 1 mile east of Seadrift off of TX 185. Scoters, Oldsquaw, and a variety of bay ducks have been seen in this area, so inspect the bay waters closely. Return to Seadrift, and drive along the bayfront. Numerous duck, gulls, and terns may be found here (including Oldsquaw in the winter of 1995).

036.gif CTC 036 Guadalupe Delta Wildlife Management Area

Suggested Seasons to visit: Winter, Migration

Site open for day use only.

Enhancements: Parking, Observation Platform

Travel north on TX 185 back to TX 35, then turn left (west) on TX 35. Continue until reaching the Guadalupe Delta WMA entrance and observation deck (the platform is located on the south side of TX 35). The observation platform is open throughout the year, but the WMA itself is closed and is accessible only during scheduled events. The freshwater lake and marshes at Guadalupe Delta are seasonally swamped with flood waters as well as attendant waterfowl, shorebirds, and a variety of herons and egrets. Wood Storks may be seen here in late summer and early fall, and the marshes around Buffalo Lake usually swarm with herons, egrets, White-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, and Least Bittern (in summer). Listen for the bubbling trill of the Marsh Wren in late spring. The woodlands within Guadalupe Delta offer fine migrant birding. Tours are scheduled in both spring and fall for Guadalupe Delta through the TPWD Texas Conservation Passport Program.

Guadalupe Delta WMA
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
2601 N. Azalea, Suite 31
Victoria, TX 77901
(361) 576-0022 or (361) 790-0308 (regional office)

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