Beaumont's Best Birding Secret
Privately owned and managed by local Audubon chapters, Sabine Woods is a shining example of a chenier plain. The slightly elevated beach ridge allows oak trees to grow along the coast, which attracts migrants in droves. The peak time to visit is late March-early May when the woodland is practically dripping in neotropical passersby’s. Many trails wind through the woods providing access to birds along with locally maintained water drips to entice even more.
Warblers, Vireos, Thrushes, Orioles, Flycatchers, Tanagers, and Cuckoos can be seen in stunning numbers if you get the right weather to produce a fallout. Standout species include Black-billed Cuckoo, Veery, and Gray-cheeked Thrush, Cerulean, Golden-winged, and Swainson’s Warblers, Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo and Painted Buntings, Blue Grosbeak, and Orchard and Baltimore Orioles. Sabine Woods is also the place to see grassland species such as Sedge Wren and other wading fowl because the site is surrounded by marsh. Both species of kinglets can be found in winter along with a handful of warblers like Black-and-white, Orange-crowned, and Yellow-rumped. The Hermit Thrush also winters here, along with a few dozen Greater White-fronted Geese, and a few hundred to thousand Snow Geese in the adjacent wetlands.
Continue Birding along the Route
Texas Point National Wildlife Reserve provides further access to the saltmarsh and a large body of water, Clam Lake. Birds such as Seaside Sparrow and Clapper Rail can be seen along Cattlewalk Trail, while Pilot Station Road is a great location for Clapper Rail, Seaside Sparrow, and Nelson’s Sparrow in winter. Species such as Lesser Scaup and Red-breasted Merganser can be common in the ship channel that parallels the road. This location is good for species such as Common and Purple Gallinules as well as several species of waterfowl.
Pleasure Island offers birders road access to Sabine Lake, a great spot to scope for ducks, grebes, and seabirds. Best in winter and early spring, Ruddy Ducks can be particularly numerous but Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Canvasback, Redhead, and a few others can also be seen, along with Horned and Eared Grebes, Ospreys, Bald Eagles, and the occasional Brown Boobie, Long-tailed Duck, and scoter.
Also birded from the road, Taylor Bayou Watershed and Hillebrandt Bayou Watershed are more good sites in winter and spring. Close to the coast, it is much different than the typical marsh and Gulf birding. Hillebrandt Bayou hosts thousands of Snow Geese with smaller numbers of Ross’s and Greater White-fronted Geese, along with species such as Broad-winged Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Barred Owl, and Wood Ducks.
• Major Birding Sites: Pilot Station Road, Texas Point National Wildlife Refuge
• Additional Areas: Pleasure Island, Taylor Bayou Watershed, Hillebrandt Bayou Watershed