Thousands of people visit Bolivar Peninsula each year to view the hundreds of migratory species that take up temporary residence.
The Houston Audubon Society is one of the largest landowners on the peninsula.
Birding is an important pastime on Bolivar Peninsula. International birders come to admire the vast expanses of woods and marshland that provide sanctuary to migrating birds. Bolivar Flats is a Globally Important Bird Area, the highest designation, and an International site in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.
The Rookery at Claybottom Pond in Smith Oaks is a part of a pond started in 1936 when dirt was needed for the railway bridge over the new Intracoastal Waterway. It also held the water supply for the High Island Community and provided water for the sulfur plant located to the east of the pond. Visitors to the Rookery in High Island’s Smith Oaks get a close look at egrets, herons, cormorants, and spoonbills nesting on the predator-free island from the platform on the northeast side of the pond.
People come from all over the world to experience the spring migration of hundreds of bird species. About 10,000 people from all 50 states and a dozen foreign countries visit Bolivar sanctuaries each year. In this photograph, waterbirds nest on the island in the middle of the pond. Alligators protect the island from raccoons and coyotes.
Excerpted with permission from The Bolivar Peninsula by Dr. Melanie Wallace.
The oak-laden bird sanctuaries of High Island, in particular Houston Audubon's Boy Scout Woods and Smith Oaks Sanctuaries are celebrated as the premier hotspots on the Gulf Coast. In this area, birders can dizzy themselves with well over 100 dazzling species far before it’s time to break out lunch.
At first glance, you might not see the special qualities of Bolivar Flats, a unique area combining salt marsh, mud flats and beach, each habitat quite different from the other. Every year hundreds of thousands of birds discover that Bolivar Flats is a special place.