BlogAugust 2021Explore Bayside Beauty-A Nature Walk at Port Aransas' Birding Center

Explore Bayside Beauty-A Nature Walk at Port Aransas' Birding Center


Take this easy excursion from Cinnamon Shore to the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center.

It's an unusual location--right next door to the Nueces County Water Treatment Facility--but here you'll find a landscaped pathway leading behind the gurgling machinery to find a newly built, 700-foot boardwalk over freshwater wetlands. It winds amid a well landscaped pollinator garden where butterflies flit.

This oasis is at 1356 Ross Avenue, just a quick drive from downtown Port A, where families wait for a table at the many restaurants, souvenir shops lure tourists, and the IGA offers crowded aisles while golf carts putter. Here, it's just you and the birds--and the resident alligator who hangs out in the mud beneath the boardwalk (Be on the lookout!)


Mustang Island plays a critical role on the migratory path.

The birding center is one of six birding sites in Port Aransas that are part of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. The other five include the Joan and Scott Holt Paradise Pond, Port Aransas Nature Preserve, the south jetty, UTMSI Wetlands Education Center, and Mustang Island State Park. 

Because the island and Port A are on the country's Central Flyway, it attracts hundreds of migratory and native species--along with enthusiastic birders, wildlife photographers of all experience levels, and nature lovers.


New and improved boardwalk and observation tower.

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey destroyed the original wooden boardwalk at the birding center, but the replacement is two feet higher and made of fiberglass-reinforced material that can handle the water surges and waves.

The $670,000 project connects the birding center to the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie's Pasture, according to Corpus Christie Business News reports, and it's just one of several future boardwalks that will offer new vantage points for viewing wildlife and coastal vistas. Funding came from the City of Port Aransas, Rebuild Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program. 

The new observation tower rises 13.5 feet above the wetlands, and it's wheel-chair accessible. 


Check out 'Birding on the Boardwalk,' Wednesdays at 9 a.m.

Experienced guides will walk with you and make sure you don't miss all the vistas and views, pointing out the birds they see and answering questions. You'll meet guides Ray Dillahunty and Leslie Hoesktra, who can help you discover all the Center has to offer.

Throughout the rest of the week, take your nature walk solo or bring your family to enjoy the serenity and see the birds.


Look for specialty birds at the Birding Center on the wetlands.

According to the 2021 Port A Birder Checklist, available HERE, you can enjoy looking out for the following sought-after local birds--real feathers in the cap of avid birders lucky enough to see them: Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, a fairly common resident that nests in freshwater ponds; the Mottled Duck, which also nests in freshwater ponds and is considered a common resident; and the Least Grebe, an irregular resident that nest in the center's ponds; the commonly seen Neotropical Cormorant; the White-Tailed Hawk, which makes an appearance mostly during the fall, and the Groove-Billed Ani, labeled an "irregular vagrant."


After you explore the Birding Center, visit Port A for the Whooping Crane Festival in February.

Since 1996, the Whooping Crane Festival has celebrated the annual return of these graceful birds to their wintering habitat at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Why is this worth your attention and time? According to festival web site,  "the Texas Coastal Bend is the only place where you can see the world’s last naturally occurring population of Whooping Cranes." 

In 2022, the event is Feb. 24-27, with three days of birding, seminars, and workshops. Plan you visit and BOOK A STAY at Cinnamon Shore to enjoy the event.


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