Texas State Parks Host First Day Hikes to Start the New Year

Brazos Bend State Park: From 8am, the park will lead a 1.2 mile hike along its 40-acre lake trail. First Day Hike stickers will be available while supplies last. Educational terminals along the trail highlight the park’s different ecosystems and wildlife. Visitors can touch various animal skins and see a newborn alligator. Daily usage fee: $7 per person for ages 13 and up (12 and under free). 21901 FM 762, Needville, 979-553-5101.

Huntsville State Park: Join park volunteers for a morning hike on the 7-mile Chinquapin Trail, one of the most popular trails in the park. Visitors should meet behind the Nature Center and be ready to leave at 9 a.m. The trail is classified as “difficult”.

At 2 p.m., volunteers will lead a 2-mile hike on a combination of trails.

At 3 p.m. there will be a 3 mile hike. All hikes start behind the Maison de la Nature. 565 Park Road 40 West, Huntsville, 936-295-5644

Lake Sheldon State Park: To participate in the First Day Hike program, visit the park anytime between 9 a.m. and noon. Check in with a ranger at the Pond Center to sign in and begin the hike. After your hike, visit the ranger station to log your miles, take photos, and collect your First Day Hike goodie bag.

All trails are ADA accessible and this event is for all ages. Contact [email protected] with any questions. No pre-registration is required for this park. 14140 Garrett, 281-456-2800

Buffalo Bayou: Join the Christmas Bird Count along Buffalo Bayou on Sunday, January 2. The Buffalo Bayou count is one of the few in the region to take place in an urban environment. The counting circle is centered on Houston Audubon’s Edith L. Moore Shrine and extends from Memorial Park to beyond Texas 6; from the Southwest Freeway in West Belt at FM 529 near Jersey Village.

Join the fun and help the group eclipse the high count of 132 species. Organizers say it’s possible to see up to 15 sparrow species on this tally, including the elusive Henslow’s sparrows and grasshopper sparrows. Other “special birds” seen in recent years include crested merganser, American bittern, lone sandpiper, American woodcock, ground dove, black phoebe, Couch’s tyrant, nuthatch red-breasted towhee, spotted towhee, eastern towhee, rusty blackbird, purple finch and pine siskin.

Participants can join as field observers or loader/yard observers.

Because much of the Buffalo Bayou count is residential, “those who stay home and observe their feeder, yard, and/or neighborhood are important to the count and greatly increase efficiency.”

Contact compiler Adam Wood, [email protected],

Galveston: The western end of Galveston Island contains great birding habitats, including Houston Audubon’s Dos Vacas Muertas Sanctuary. The count will take place on Monday, January 3.

The compiler is Kyle O’Haver, [email protected]; the co-contact is Cynthia Hughes, [email protected]

Lake Houston-Humble: On Monday, January 3, local bird guides will help enthusiasts identify and document all kinds of species. There are three meeting locations: 7:45 a.m. at the Jesse Jones Nature Center, 20634 Kenswick; 9:00 a.m. at Alexander Deussen Park Senior Center, 123030 Sonnier; and 4 p.m. at Edgewater Park, 202 Hamblen.

Contact Alicia Mein-Johnson at [email protected] for more information.

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