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42. Riviera Pothole Region, Riviera, Texas

Find waterfowl, rails, cranes, spoonbills, caracaras and many more birds in this mosaic of ponds and wetlands 60 miles south of Corpus Christi.
By Milton Weller | Published: 4/25/2008

Don’t miss the prairie potholes of Riviera, Texas. Thousands of birders, many from around the world, come to the area to follow the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, but few are aware of the excellent birding at the diverse freshwater wetland habitats nearby.

The species-rich potholes dot a region of sandy hills and swales from Riviera to Baffin Bay in the highly saline upper Laguna Madre. The area reminds me of the prairie potholes of the northern U.S. and central Canada but involves perhaps only 50 to 60 square miles.

Birding is enticing because seasonal water dynamics create ever-changing habitats. During a four-year observation period, water levels ranged from dry or damp mudflats to deeply flooded potholes, pastures, and even roads. Moderate temperatures allow extended breeding and flexible stopover periods, so stop over, even if briefly, and enjoy! — Milton Weller

Milton Weller is emeritus professor of wildlife ecology at Texas A&M University and author of  Wetland Birds: Habitat Resources and Conservation Implications (Cambridge University, 1999).

 

42. Riviera Pothole Region, Riviera, Texas

Directions

The Riviera Pothole Region is a mosaic of ponds and wetlands 60 miles south of Corpus Christi. Three routes, running from Hwy. 77 east to Baffin Bay, are suggested on the map above. Take a left at FM 628 (blue) for the most direct route to coastal sites. For the highest density of potholes, turn left at 2310E (orange). The final route at FM 771 (green) passes through several wetlands and ends at the fishing pier on Baffin Bay.

Downloadable Files

At a Glance

texas-sites-nearby.ashxClick on the coordinates below to view location:
27°17’55.48″N 97°48’54.48″W

Habitat

Farm and ranch land interspersed with basin wetlands, ponds, and woody patches. Cropped land most prominent to the north.

Terrain

Rolling hills with low drainages in central areas. Cropped land to the north is flatter but sometimes floods.

Birds

Migrant and wintering ducks, geese, rails, herons, egrets, ibises, Sandhill Crane, Roseate Spoonbill, and Crested Caracara (occasional). Also American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Wilson’s Plover, Black and Gull-billed Terns, pelicans, gulls, and cormorants. Occasional breeding species: Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Least Grebe, American Coot, Purple Gallinule, Ruddy and Masked Ducks. Check brushy thickets for Inca and ground doves, Groove-billed Ani, Great Kiskadee, Ash-throated Flycatcher, and Lesser Goldfinch.

When to go

Year-round for waterfowl, shorebirds, and herons. Spring and fall are best for raptors and non-breeding shorebirds.

Amenities

Restrooms at Baffin Bay Riviera Pier and Kaufert-Hubert County Park. Gas stations and several cafes in nearby Riviera.

Access

Private farm and ranch lands accessed by public state and county roads. Roadside birding from vehicles creates the least disturbance.

Tips

Fields and potholes are usually fenced. Ask permission before walking in or around them. Traffic and disturbances are modest along smaller county roads; farmers and ranchers are understanding, and even the mailman waves!

For more info

Audubon Outdoor Club of Corpus Christi
Texas Coastal Wetlands
Rio Grande Valley RBA, (956) 584-2731

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