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38 Texas Coastal Bend tour guide Early Spring 2016 Located in the Central Flyway the island boasts hundreds of native and migrating species. Encounters with Coastal Bend nesting species such as the Roseate Spoonbills Least Grebes Reddish Egrets Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks Bitterns and Rails bring birding enthu- siasts back to this island sanctuary time and time again. With five sites along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail Wetlands Park Paradise Pond the Birding Cen- ter Mustang Island State Park and the South Jetty Port A hosts many must-see look outs for avid birders and wildlife photographers. Boardwalks and observa- tion towers are built over wetlands with vegetation pockets specially designed to attract birds. The Birding Center Wetlands Park Paradise Pond and The Nature Preserve were designed to give birders theup-close ability to observe hundreds of species in their natural habitats. From the natural wetlands inlets and 18 miles of natural beaches and dunes to the rock jetties piers and marinas the island offers dozens of perfect vantage points to marvel at the magnificent migrating birds that consider Port A the perfect rest stop. The Port Aransas Nature Preserve encompasses 1217 acres of undeveloped land in an area formerly known as Charlies Pasture where early island residents once grazed their cattle. Located between the ship chan- nel the community park State Highway 361 and Piper Channel features at the Nature Preserve include over three miles of hike and bike trails a pavilion board- walks over algal flats crushed granite trails on the uplands covered seating sites and two towers over- looking wetland areas around Salt Island. The natural areas extensive tidal flats provide feed- ing areas and important habitat for shorebirds and endangered and threatened species such as the piping plover. There are two entrances to the Preserve the end of Port Street and off State Highway 361 near Mustang Beach Airport. To keep the preserve unspoiled certain environmental rules apply. Birding year- round in Port A