WINTER NATURE PROGRAM

Birds, butterflies, sea turtles and more! Beaches, bayous and coastal prairie! Galveston Island offers an amazing natural array of fauna, flora and lots of opportunity to enjoy and explore the outdoors even in the winter months. Whether you are visiting the island or call it home, please come along and be introduced to the wonderful natural world of Galveston Island. Join us for any or all of the outings and talks. Most of the activities REQUIRE an RSVP and you’ll find it’s quite easy to reserve your spot. Sign up info is noted on each activity that requires an RSVP.

schedule of nature activities

Plover Walk

January 10, Thursday, 9-11am, Free
Leader: Master Naturalist Sally Pachulski
Where: Directions to be emailed prior to the activity
Click here to register

Galveston Island is host to many wintering plovers.  We are so lucky to have Piping Plovers, Snowy Plovers, Semipalmated Plovers, Wilson’s Plovers and Black-bellied Plovers along with a plover almost everyone everyone knows, the Killdeer.

Come along with Sally Pachulski who monitors Piping Plovers in Maine each summer.  We will learn the subtle differences that help distinguish all the different types of plovers.  We will also probably see many other types of shorebirds.  We will meet onsite and walk 1 or 2 miles along the beach learning about and searching for plovers!  Please bring a hat, sunscreen, water, binoculars (if you have them) and appropriate clothing for the weather.  (Photo: Sally Pachulski)

Brewding 101 – beach birdnerdery 

January 10, Thursday, 4:30pm-6ish, Free (Seawall parking required)
Leader: Greg Whittaker
Where: Jimmy’s on the Pier, 9001 Seawall
Click here to register

Informal birdwatching opportunity and discussion in a setting that lends itself to enjoying nature with a beverage of choice.  Come visit with a transplanted northerner that has been enjoying Galveston’s diverse bird-life, and tasty beer for many years.  Conversation and bird viewing will concentrate on pelicans, cormorants and the various shore birds that commonly use the nearshore habitats.

Birding 101 @ Moody Gardens

January 12, Saturday, 9am – noon, Free
Presenter:  Greg Whittaker
Where: Moody Gardens – Visitor’s Center 4-D theater
Click here to register

We will start out in a theater setting with a short introductory level presentation on birdwatching.  We will then do a walking tour of the Moody Gardens outdoor property areas that are generally loaded with wintering birds.  No extreme terrain, but weather dependent, so dress appropriately for a couple hours outside.  Binoculars and bird ID books are suggested, but not required – come as you are and appreciate what nature has to offer.

The Fierce Beauty of Raptors

January 16, Wednesday, 10am-noon, Free
Presenter: Kristine Rivers of Birding for Fun!
Where: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Campus, 4700 Broadway, (enter lobby and go left following the signs to OLLI)
RSVP Required: Phone 409.763.5604 or email msierpin@utmb.edu

What makes a bird a raptor? We’ll answer that question, talk about the features of different families of raptors, and take a closer look at some of the beautiful birds of prey that you can see in the Galveston area. (Photo: Dave Williams)

Galveston County Audubon Group Birding Presentation: 
A Wonderland of Winter Waterfowl

January 16, Wednesday, 7pm, Free
Presenter: Kristine Rivers of Birding for Fun!
Where: Rosenberg Library, 2310 Sealy
No RSVP necessary

The Upper Texas Gulf Coast provides a variety of habitats that attract winter waterfowl and other water birds such as loons and grebes, making it a wonderful birding destination during the fall and winter months. Identification of these birds can be somewhat tricky, however! This interactive presentation will cover the different family groups and provide information about behavior, habitat, and plumage that can aid in identification. Bring your favorite field guide if you would like to practice your identification skills.

Our local Audubon Group and GINTC welcome Winter Texans and residents to attend the monthly presentation. The program begins at 7pm. Doors open at 6:30pm and everyone is encouraged to come early to share about recent outings and sightings.

Turtle Island Restoration Network, Sea Turtle Conservation and Community Involvement

January 17, Thursday, 10am – Noon, Free
Presenter: Joanie Steinhaus
Where: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Campus, 4700 Broadway, (enter lobby and go left following the signs to OLLI)
RSVP Required: Phone 409.763.5604 or email msierpin@utmb.edu

Turtle Island Restoration Network will celebrate 30 years of ocean conservation projects in 2019, this presentation will cover their work internationally and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Five of the seven threatened or endangered sea turtles are found in the Gulf of Mexico, learn how your actions can make a difference to protect their terrestrial and marine environment. (Photo: Ron Wooten)

Microplastics in the Gulf of Mexico

January 18, Friday, 10am – Noon, Free
Presenter: Theresa Morris
Where: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Campus, 4700 Broadway, (enter lobby and go left following the signs to OLLI)
RSVP Required: Phone 409.763.5604 or email msierpin@utmb.edu

Microplastics in our oceans are an issue for marine wildlife and potential impacts on humans are not fully understood. Microplastics are plastic debris smaller than 5mm and estimates suggest up to 236,000 metric tons exist in worldwide oceans. Turtle Island Restoration Network is participating in a project that stretches across the Gulf of Mexico to determine the amount of micro plastics in our beach sand and water.

This presentation will include current information and research on this issue as well as possible methods for turning this problem into a solution. Come learn how your actions can result in positive change for the environment.

Galveston County Audubon Group Birding Field Trip

January 19, Saturday, 8:30am – noon, Free
Leaders: Greg Whittaker, Alice Anne O’Donell
Where: Moody Gardens south Aquarium Parking lot – small lot immediately south of the blue pyramid, call 409.789.8125 for information
No RSVP necessary

Our local Galveston County Audubon Group welcomes Winter Texans and residents to participate in our monthly field trip.  We will meet at Moody Gardens as a starting point and give everyone the game plan for the trip.  We can consolidate into carpools and we will have narration broadcast on an fm radio channel for caravan options.

Lionfish : Reef Raiders in the Gulf

This presentation has been cancelled. We hope to reschedule it for a later date. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 22, 10 AM-Noon, Free
Presenter:  Kelly Drinnen, Education & Outreach Specialist Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
Where: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Campus, 4700 Broadway, (enter lobby and go left following the signs to OLLI)
RSVP Required: Phone 409.763.5604 or email msierpin@utmb.edu

In recent years, Indo-Pacific lionfish have been found in coral reefs throughout the southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean. These invasive lionfish pose a serious threat to coral reefs like the Flower Garden Banks off the Texas coast, with potential long-term consequences for native fish communities, habitats, and entire ecosystems. Visit with us to learn the details of this invasion and take a look inside some lionfish as we dissect them to figure out what they’ve been eating.

Brewding 201 – A Day at the Beach

January 24, Thursday, 4:30pm-6ish, Free
Leader: Greg Whittaker
Where: Woody’s Beach Bar, 11149 Termini San Luis Pass Rd
Click here to register

Informal birdwatching opportunity and discussion in a setting that lends itself to enjoying nature with a beverage of choice.  Come visit with a transplanted northerner that has been enjoying Galveston’s diverse bird-life, and tasty beer for many years.  Conversation and bird viewing will concentrate on gulls, terns and beach habitat shore birds that are likely to be viewed from the scenic deck.

Texas Ornithological Society – Birding Then & Now in Galveston

January 24, Thursday, 7:00pm – 8:00pm, Free
Presenters: Fred Collins & Bob Honig
Where: Holiday Inn Resort, 5002 Seawall Blvd – meeting room
Click here to register

The Texas Ornithological Society will be holding their winter meeting in Galveston on January 25-27th.  Most of the activities are fee based and reserved for TOS members.  However, this historical retrospective look at Galveston area birding hotspots is open to all that are interested.  Relying on the Houston Ornithology Group’s 1967-68 guide entitled “Good Birding Trips”, Fred’s firsthand perspective, and Bob’s analysis of satellite imagery, they will explore changes over time at some field trip locations birders may visit during the TOS winter meeting.

Texas Ornithological Society – Local Avian Research Presentations

January 25, Friday, 4:00pm – 5:00pm, Free
Presenters: Anna Vallery, Amanda Hackney, Rachael Glazner
Where: Holiday Inn Resort, 5002 Seawall Blvd – meeting room
Click here to register

The Texas Ornithological Society will be holding their winter meeting in Galveston on January 25-27th.  Most of the activities are fee based and reserved for TOS members.  However, the 3 local research presentations being featured will be open to those interested in learning more about some of the fascinating ecological avian research being conducted by local Universities.  Talk titles include; “Assessment of Shorebird and Wading Bird Populations in Galveston Bay Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”, “Is this beach big enough for the both of us? Human Disturbance and Wintering Piping Plover on the Upper Texas Coast”, and “Comparing Expectations of a Habitat Suitability Model for Wading Birds to Field Observations Acquired Using Drone Technology”.

Texas Ornithological Society – Winged Winter Wonders: Who are they?

January 25, Friday, 7:00pm – 8:00pm, Free
Presenter: Glenn Olsen
Where: Holiday Inn Resort, 5002 Seawall Blvd – meeting room
Click here to register

The Texas Ornithological Society will be holding their winter meeting in Galveston on January 25-27th.  Most of the activities are fee based and reserved for TOS members.  However, this presentation on the fantastic winter birding that Galveston has to offer is open to all that are interested.  The upper Texas coast is world renowned for the amazing spring migration of songbirds and shorebirds.  What is less known and under-appreciated is how fantastic the upper coast is for winter birding.  We will explore what makes the upper Texas coast a great winter birding location and discuss some of the sought after birds that may be encountered during this winter meeting.  Please RSVP to ensure adequate seating.

Texas Ornithological Society – Know Your Gulls

January 26, Saturday, 4:00pm – 5:00pm, Free
Presenter: Cin-Ty Lee
Where: Holiday Inn Resort, 5002 Seawall Blvd – meeting room
Click here to register

The Texas Ornithological Society will be holding their winter meeting in Galveston on January 25-27th.  Most of the activities are fee based and reserved for TOS members.  However, this presentation on Gull and Tern identification is open to all that are interested.  This presentation will focus on the basics of gull identification, with an emphasis on the gulls of the Gulf Coast.

Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council’s Sea Turtle Saturday at Moody Gardens

Photo: Steven Stones

February 2, Saturday, 8am – noon
Presenters: TBA
Moody Gardens Discovery Museum (Pink Pyramid)

Before the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles head to Galveston beaches for nesting season this spring, make plans to learn about these fascinating creatures at Sea Turtle Saturday on February 2nd.  This year’s informative and engaging seminar presented by the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council (GINTC) will take place at Moody Gardens, a new venue for 2019.

Come hear presentations from scientists, researchers and conservationists who are working to save Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. Learn how you can become involved in helping preserve this extremely endangered species.  After hearing our presenters’ stories and asking them questions, you’ll be free to tour the Moody Gardens “Turtles in Crisis” exhibit located within the Discovery Museum upstairs. This 1100 square foot complex was designed and built by Moody Gardens to augment the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle interactive display. The complex showcases Desert, Forest, Aquatic and Marine turtles that are all facing significant challenges in their natural ecosystems.

This once a year event sells out quickly as space is limited.

Event registration is $15. Registrants must be at least 12 years old and if under 18, must be accompanied by an adult.

It’s Time for a Makeover! Understanding Plumage Variations

February 4, Monday, 10am-noon, Free
Presenter: Kristine Rivers of Birding for Fun!
Where: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Campus, 4700 Broadway, (enter lobby and go left following the signs to OLLI)
RSVP Required: Phone 409.763.5604 or email msierpin@utmb.edu

In this interactive presentation, we’ll discuss the reasons for plumage variations; how molting can affect identification; and color changes of bills, lores, legs, and feet.  Bring your favorite field guide if you would like to practice your identification skills. (Photo: Joe Blackburn)

Moody Gardens Dive Program Conservation Update

February 12, Tuesday, 10-11am, Free
Presenters:  Jake Emmert, Moody Gardens Dive Safety Officer
Where: Moody Gardens Visitor Center 4D Theater
Click here to register

This presentation will showcase the conservation work that goes on outside the pyramid walls.  Emphasis on both local and International initiatives that directly relate to our animal collection.  As an AZA accredited facility, Moody Gardens Life Science and Exhibit Operations department provides the highest level of animal care and well-being while creating personal connections between our guests and our conservation, education and research efforts.  If you’ve ever wondered how captive animal care relates to wildlife conservation, this is the perfect opportunity to pull back the curtain and see what goes on behind the scenes. (Photo courtesy of Moody Gardens)

Brewding 301 – bird love  

February 14, Thursday, 4:30pm-6ish, Free
Leader: Greg Whittaker
Where: Tin Cup’s Caddy Shack, 9020 Stewart Rd
Click here to register

Informal birdwatching opportunity and discussion in a setting that lends itself to enjoying nature with a beverage of choice.  Come visit with a transplanted northerner that has been enjoying Galveston’s diverse bird-life, and tasty beer for many years.  Conversation and bird viewing will concentrate on Sandhill Cranes and various other species that are likely to be viewed from the scenic deck.  It’s a little early in the season, but if we’re lucky, the Sandhills might celebrate Valentine’s Day with their characteristic courtship dance. (Photo: Barbara Rabek)

Birds of Moody Gardens

February 16, Saturday, 9am – Noon, Free
Presenters:  Greg Whittaker, Animal Husbandry Manager – Moody Gardens
Where: Moody Gardens Visitor Center 4D theater
Click here to register

In 2018 Greg Whittaker took on the challenge to survey daily throughout the course of an entire year and catalog all the bird species that can be seen on or from Moody Gardens.  We’ll begin with a presentation in the 4D theater that summarizes the yearlong survey process and some of the surprising species encountered.  We’ll then walk through the tropical Rainforest canopy looking at some of the unique bird species in our care.  We’ll finish with a walk around the Moody Gardens property looking at the diversity of species that use our natural outdoor habitat. (Photo: Jodi Henricks)

Growing Native Plants for Birds, Bees and Butterflies

February 20, Wednesday, 10-11am
Presenter: Texas Master Naturalist Debra Pence
Where: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Campus, 4700 Broadway, (enter lobby and go left following the signs to OLLI)
RSVP Required: Phone 409.763.5604 or emaimsierpin@utmb.edu

Join Naturalist Debra Pence for a class focused on creating a pollinator/nature habitat in your own backyard. We will focus on plants native to Texas but you will be able to apply the methods wherever you live.

Galveston County Audubon Group Birding Presentation: Galveston’s Winter Songbirds

February 20, Wednesday, 7pm, Free
Presenter: Jim Stevenson
Where: Rosenberg Library, 2310 Sealy
No RSVP necessary

Jim Stevenson will be conducting a survey of the wintering songbirds of our area, with the second half devoted strictly to sparrows, from most common to rarest.

Our local Audubon Group and GINTC welcome Winter Texans and residents to attend the monthly presentation. The program begins at 7pm. Doors open at 6:30pm and everyone is encouraged to come early to share about recent outings and sightings.

Monarch Butterflies: Each One Counts

February 22, Friday, 1:30pm – 3:30pm, Free
Presenter: Cindy Price, Author & Naturalist
Where: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Campus, 4700 Broadway, (enter lobby and go left following the signs to OLLI)
RSVP Required: Phone 409.763.5604 or email msierpin@utmb.edu

Attendees will enjoy Price’s presentation which includes the Monarchs’ natural history, North American conservation status, current migration map, and the importance of the “Texas Funnel” and the I-35 milkweed restoration project.

Cindy writes and films the nature photography for The Urban Naturalist series of books available on Amazon.com. She also writes the nature column for Life is Good magazine. Cindy was a long-time resident of the Texas Gulf Coast. She received her Master Naturalist training from the Houston Arboretum. She is an avid gardener and has been raising Monarch butterflies for over 20 years.

Galveston County Audubon Group Birding Field Trip

February 23, Saturday, 8:30am – noon, Free
Leader: Alice Anne O’Donell/Greg Whittaker
Where: Moody Gardens south Aquarium Parking lot – small lot immediately south of the blue pyramid, call 409.789.8125 for information
No RSVP necessary

Our local Galveston County Audubon Group welcomes Winter Texans and residents to participate in our monthly field trip.  We will meet at Moody Gardens as a starting point and give everyone the game plan for the trip.  We can consolidate into carpools with likely stops at the Galveston Island State Park, Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve and Jim Stevenson’s house near Indian Beach. (Photo: Jim Stevenson)

Brewding 401 – Final Exam  

March 2, Saturday, 9am- 2ish, Free
Leader: Greg Whittaker
Where: Moody Gardens South Aquarium Parking Lot
Click here to register

This “advanced” outing will be a culmination of the previous 3 offerings with a more adventuresome excursion starting at Moody Gardens.  We’ll drive the roads on the “near west end” and bird the areas holding the most diversity at that time.  Ultimately, we’ll finish back at Moody gardens in time to allow those interested to convene at 8423 Stewart Rd for the 1pm brewery tour.

Plover Walk        NEW ADDITION   RESCHEDULED FOR MAR. 7

This event has been so popular we’ve added another one! It is limited to 20 particpants.

February 28, March 7, Thursday, 9-11am, Free
Leader: Master Naturalist Sally Pachulski
Where: Directions to be emailed prior to the activity
Click here to register

Galveston Island is host to many wintering plovers.  We are so lucky to have Piping Plovers, Snowy Plovers, Semipalmated Plovers, Wilson’s Plovers and Black-bellied Plovers along with a plover almost everyone everyone knows, the Killdeer.

Come along with Sally Pachulski who monitors Piping Plovers in Maine each summer.  We will learn the subtle differences that help distinguish all the different types of plovers.  We will also probably see many other types of shorebirds.  We will meet onsite and walk 1 or 2 miles along the beach learning about and searching for plovers!  Please bring a hat, sunscreen, water, binoculars (if you have them) and appropriate clothing for the weather.  (Photo: Sally Pachulski)