Willow Waterhole Bird Survey
Next Survey: February 16 at 8 AM
Leader: Mary Ann Beauchemin, Senior Naturalist at the Nature Discovery Center. The Nature Discovery Center is partnering with Houston Audubon to conduct the Willow Waterhole survey.
American Kestrel at Willow Waterhole
Latest Report: November 17
Thanks to all of you who made it out to help out with the November WWH Bird Survey. It was a pretty overcast day, but the temperature was great - not too hot, not too cold. As a group we identified 41 species plus 3 taxa that could not be identified down to species. The most unexpected bird of the day was 1 Wood Stork! This bird was not on the Willow Waterhole e-bird list so I had to record it as an add on. It was found on the pond that is on the north side of South Willow St. and east of the parking lot we usually meet in. It was not at all disturbed by the bulldozer that was working on the near side of the pond as we watched. Several "winter" birds showed up for this count too. American Kestrels, Eastern Phoebes, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped & Orange-crowned Warblers and some others all made an appearance. A very special thanks to Mark Meyer & Wes Browning who joined me in leading the individual survey area groups that morning. Many thanks to the many folks who helped conduct the survey: Della Barbato, Vasudha & Siddharth Bharadwaj, Jackie Davis, Melita Delgado, Clara & Lily Fowler, Lisa Gibson, James Gil, Michael Honel, Gerry del Junco, Riffat, Raza & Kasim Manasia, Barbara Massey, Sheryl Maruca, Martha McGee, Debbie Morice, Janet Neath, Camille & Steven Nelson, Greg & Ju-Ling Poston, Warren Pruess, Melinda Pumpelly, Ruth Roach, Bernard Silgardo, Evelyn Smith, Katherine Swarts, Margaret Swarts, Dana Turner, Pauline Zinn & Liz Zivley.
-- Mary Ann Beauchemin
The Willow Waterhole Bird Survey was started in June 2007 and is held on the third Saturday of each month (but no survey in December). During the 2-hour count, the number of species identified can range from around 30 in summer to over 50 in the winter.
The survey begins in the parking lot of the Gathering Place at 5310 South Willow Drive. Our usual starting time is 8 AM, but we begin at 7 AM from April through September. We split up into three or four groups to cover the park thoroughly, and as of mid-2015, nearly 200 species had been reported to eBird. For a list of species reported to date, see eBird.
The Willow Waterhole Conservation Reserve is the site of an ongoing retention pond project of the Harris County Flood Control District. With excavation underway on the fourth of six ponds, the 290-acre park continues to be an excellent birding area within the City of Houston and just outside the southwest corner of Loop 610.
Birding Willow Waterhole
The major part of the Willow Waterhole reserve is on the west side of South Post Oak Road, and that is where three of the ponds are located (with two more to come). Good places to park for birding these ponds are on Ricecrest Street and on the Clematis Lane cul-de-sac off of Gasmer. Also, adjacent to the parking lot at the Gathering Place on South Willow is a short, woodland path to the unconcreted Willow Waterhole Bayou, which marks the northern boundary of the park. Another parking area is on the gravel road at the eastern end of Dryad Drive behind Westbury High School.
On the Willow Waterhole property east of South Post Oak Road, the fourth of the six ponds is being excavated. This is also where the endangered Texas Prairie Dawn flower (Hymenoxys texana) is located and where several species of sparrows have been seen each winter. Because the flower is an endangered species, the HCFCD is required by law to return much of the surrounding acreage back to coastal prairie, including removal of non-native vegetation. Access to this property is at the south end of Windwood Drive or along Gasmer.