Galveston Island, Texas — State Park; Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council

Galveston Island State Park

The campsites on the ocean side of the state park are closed for renovation until 2022 but there is still a lot to see and do here. A local birder told me that the birding is actually better on the bay side of the park. Entrance fee is $5.00 per person and I asked when I checked in why they didn’t charge per vehicle. The ranger explained that the state receives funding based on numbers of people who visit.

While at the check-in office/interpretive center you can pick up maps and gather other information on the trails that are open. It was rather muddy and flooded when I visited with my dogs in November but we were still able to do quite a bit of walking. There are boardwalks and observation towers on some of the trails. There are also places to launch a kayak or canoe on the Bay side.

I didn’t take any photos of the bay side campground but there were a number of people in residence when I drove by.

Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council

I found this group quite by accident when I was googling “Galveston nature” and they happened to have a birding tour during the time I was here that I was able to sign up for. This was a chauffeured tour of the west side of the island with two knowledgable tour guide/birders and about 14 participants. The cost was $40 and well worth it. According to my EBird app, we drove 24 miles in 3 hours and I was able to log 21 species.

I realized that in the future, I will have to sign up for more professional birding tours because I would not have known about these places or been able to identify these birds without the experts along. There are little pockets of protected habitat throughout the island that have been purchased as sanctuaries but they aren’t advertised and are probably only known to and used by the local birders.

We toured a wooded area, a lagoon area, and the beach for various species. Passengers ranged from experts to those just beginning like me. Those who know more are always willing to share their knowledge with those just beginning and I can’t believe how much I learned. I hope to take part in more tours when I return in the future.

Sandhill cranes on the golf course where we parked to meet the shuttle.
Juvenile caracara
White ibis
Cormorant and caracara
Eastern Phoebe
Royal terns
Bufflehead and female shoveler

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