This tour hugs the Texas coast along Bluewater Highway in the Surfside Beach area of Brazoria County. You can start at San Luis Pass County Park or Surfside Jetty County Park.
While traveling down Bluewater Highway in the summer you may notice Willets on the power lines. Falcons (Peregrine, Merlin, and American Kestrel) are commonly seen along the beach in migration and winter. Look for Yellow-headed Blackbird among the blackbird flocks along this road during migration. Bobolinks have also been seen in late spring in fields of spiderwort. White-tailed Kites often perch on the powerlines during winter and Crested Caracaras can be found in this area.
San Luis Pass County Park
Here you have a great view of San Luis Pass and the sand flats are often littered with small flocks of gulls and terns. Northern Gannets often venture into swift waters of San Luis Pass to fish. Scope the nearshore waters in summer and fall for Magnificent Frigatebirds. Please stay clear of the dunes as they represent a fragile ecosystem (and home to many rattlesnakes).
This is a 15-acre bay park with both day-use amenities and overnight facilities. San Luis Pass County Park features paved full-service RV spots, cabins, a climate-controlled meeting room with kitchenette, interpretive center, pavilion, restrooms, a playground, fish cleaning stations, paved parking, and a boat launch.
Natural attractions include bay fishing from the park, boating, bird watching, nature viewing, and beach combing in addition to shelling on nearby beaches.
14001 County Road 257, Freeport, TX 77541. Day-use Hours of Operation: 8 a.m. – dusk. An entrance fee may be required.
Spot Great Blue Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, Royal Terns and other shorebirds in this bay. Rafts of Redheads often crowd Christmas Bay in winter, and Wilson’s Plovers and Horned Larks nest in the dunes along the shore. This is a good spot to scope for winter ducks in the bay and Marbled Godwit flocks on the reefs.
Christmas Bay has extensive oyster reefs and salt marsh ideal for fishing, bird watching or enjoying nature. It is very shallow and great for kayaks; most paddlers can comfortably stand in its waters in most areas. If you wade fish wear ray-proof wading boots or shuffle your feet to avoid a stingray strike. The trail length is 19.1 miles and there is a 3.8-mile route and a 10.3-mile route. Launch sites are along Bluewater Highway between Surfside Beach and San Luis Pass on County Roads 257J, 257S, and at San Luis Pass County Park.
You can drive the beach from any of the public access roads off of Bluewater Highway but an annual beach pass is required when you get to Surfside Beach. Gulls, terns, and shorebirds congregate in this area and Red Knots are often seen along this beach in migration. The near-shore waters are regularly jammed with Brown Pelicans diving amongst the schools of menhaden, and rafts of sea ducks may drift close enough to the shore to allow a close inspection. In winter, Northern Gannets can sometimes be seen fishing offshore from the beach.
Surfside Bird and Butterfly Trail
This is a great place to spot butterflies, herons, pelicans, egrets, terns and more. The Surfside Bird & Butterfly Trail is 2.5 miles surrounded by native plants and woodland and bordered by the Freeport Harbor. Entrance is located at the corner of Parkview and Monument Drive near Surfside Beach City Hall.
Surfside Jetty County Park
The Surfside Jetty is an easy place to go birding or saltwater fishing. It is more than half a mile long with a flat surface walkway about five feet above the water. It is the Freeport Harbor’s east jetty and extends approximately 6/10 of a mile into the Gulf of Mexico.
Scoters and mergansers may drift into these relatively calm waters around the jetty to feed. See flocks of gulls feed behind the shrimp boats in the harbor and check the rocks for rare shorebirds. A Purple Sandpiper sighting is always possible in winter.
The park has a paved parking area with easy access to the beach, harbor channel and jetty, a playground, and restroom facilities. It is located at 101 Parkview Road in Surfside.