Even if you’re not a bird nerd, this is an enthralling place. We knew this was a great location to see colorful spring migrants, such as orioles, tanagers, and warblers. But we had no idea that High Island also shelters an enormous rookery for egrets and spoonbills. Any other views we’ve had of spoonbills or egrets in our travels were totally blown away by our close encounters with these magnificently beautiful creatures nesting on High Island.
We spent hours at the rookery—appropriately named Sanctuary Ponds—watching Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and Roseate Spoonbills performing their elaborate courtship rituals, building nests, and raising their young. It is nothing short of mesmerizing.
When we weren’t in the rookery, we were walking the trails in Smith Oaks and Boy Scout Woods in search of colorful migrants. Any time in April is a good time to catch the migration on High Island, although there’s no guaranteed “best” time. The birds come and go with the winds and the storms, and there’s no telling what you’ll find on the trails. But April is also the best time to visit the rookery, and there’s no question that you’ll see lots of egrets and spoonbills.
High Island is miniscule, with a population of about 500. Stock up on groceries before you arrive, and don’t plan on eating out unless you’re up for a long drive. We were happy to ensconce ourselves at the conveniently located little RV Park, where we barely moved our truck for three days. All of the birding locations are within a mile or so of the park, and we spent our time biking and birding all day, every day.
We had a delightful time, except for a brief moment in Boy Scout Woods. I’d bought an adorable shortbread cookie decorated like a Blackburnian Warbler from the local Audubon Society folks. It was really cute, and I had plans to keep it (for what reason, I’m not certain). But when I turned around, I discovered that Eric had taken a big bite out of the cookie. Me: “I can’t believe you ate the bird! You bit the head right off!” Eric: “It was a cookie, what did you expect?” (In his defense, he wasn’t aware of my long-term plans for the cookie.)
About the RV Park:
High Island RV Park is a delightful, peaceful little park, with 20 paved sites offering full-hookups, showers, laundry, and good Wi-Fi, $30/night. Best of all, the park is within walking distance of Boy Scout Woods, and only a mile from Smith Oaks and Sanctuary Ponds. Reservations are taken six months in advance; if you want to go mid-March through mid-May, you probably need reservations because it fills up with—you guessed it—birders.
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