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by Georgina Schwartz
Castroville Regional Park is an unexpected jewel for birders. Although the fields in the center are busy with young soccer players on weekends, there is still plenty of birding room here. Find the park by driving west through Castroville on US 90 to Athens Street where a sign points left to the park. Follow the signs to the park.
Observe the gravel parking lot on the right for the Roadrunner that can be found here along with other brush birds. An Osprey often sits on the pole over the uphill sewage pond. Great and Snowy Egrets and a Cormorant can be found there.
Observe the pecan trees and the power poles for Couch's Kingbirds and Western Kingbirds-- both nested here. Green Kingfishers are usually around somewhere along the ditch on the right or along the Medina River as you walk counter-clockwise around the park on the park road. An Audubon's Oriole was found on the brushy hillside. Look for Eastern Bluebird, Barn Swallow, Eastern Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks, Caracara, Turkey Vulture, and Meadowlarks. Warblers were Nashvilles, Orange-crowned, and Yellow. In summer there were Blue Grosbeaks, Painted Bunting, and Yellow-billed Cuckoos.
Stop by the Landmark Inn State Historical Park at the west end of the Medina River Bridge to look for the Black Phoebe that spends the winter near the dam. A pair of Green Kingfishers may be found there, too. The historical exhibit inside this still-operating inn is worth the small fee to learn about the settling of Castroville.
Or drive north on Mexico Street (to River Road) to the Medina River Greenhouse. Birders are welcome -- just park in the lot and tell them you are there. Large trees and the riparian habitat offer good birding and you can walk all around the nursery.
You can proceed on up the road to the Medina River crossing, turn right to return to Castroville and Haby's Bakery by FM 471.
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