Willow Waterhole Bird Survey
Next Survey: September 16 at 7 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.
Cooper's Hawk at Willow Waterhole
Latest Report: July 15
Our July 15 bird survey produced a total of 35 species plus 4 taxa that could not be identified down to species. A pretty good list for July! I want to thank Mark Meyer who reminded us all that this June or July was the 10th anniversary of the Willow Waterhole Bird Survey! Definitely something to celebrate and a time to say THANK YOU to all of you who have taken part in the survey any time over the last 10 years for making this possible! I think the best bird of the morning was a great look of a Mississippi Kite on the Prairie section of WWH (east of Post Oak Blvd). David Crabtree got some great digiscope shots of it to share with the entire group during the wrap up.
Many thanks to the 20 birders who came out to help with this survey in July. Special thanks to Mark Meyer & David Crabtree who led the survey area groups with me, as well as all of you who helped spot and ID the birds: Melita Delgado, Caren & Gene Fritts, Susan & Bob Herman, Michael Honel, Bruce Krewinghaus, Barbara & Dick Massey, Gary Olson, Dolores Peterson, J.R. Ridgway, Ralph Rieger, Ruth Roach, Katherine Swarts, Les Wolf and Ruth 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.