Country Club Lake / Astin Recreation Area / Williamson Park

Bert Frenz, 1997

If you live in Bryan / College Station this site is so convenient you can stop in on your way to or from work for a half-hour and survey the changing water fowl that exploit the small lake. There is always something to entertain a birder here. Perhaps the most interesting is the large number of Common Moorhens that have made this their home. As many as 60 have been counted around the lake, mostly adults with their bright red forehead shields tipped in yellow, but also some juveniles with duller bills. The moorhens, as well as the numerous coots, ducks and geese are much more approachable than in more wild areas, thereby accommodating great photographic opportunities.

From the Texas & University Av intersection travel north on Texas for 1.6 miles. Turn left on Villa Maria, continue for 0.4 mile to College Av and turn right. The lake is to your left and you can park at Astin Recreation Area which is another 0.3 mile north at the intersection of College Av and Rountree Dr. From the parking lot you can explore Country Club Lake, the recreation area and Williamson Park, all an easy walk from one another.

Country Club Lake regularly supports Pied-billed Grebe, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Bufflehead and Ruddy Duck. The exotic waterfowl (Muscovy Duck, Domestic and Chinese Goose) often include a few tame migrants such as Greater White-fronted, Snow and Ross’s Geese. Their close proximity gives you an opportunity to compare bill shapes and observe the Snow Goose’s "grinning patch." Summer residents include Least Bittern, American Coot, Common Moorhen, Loggerhead Shrike, Eastern and Western Kingbirds.

On the north end of the lake, behind the Girl Scout House and adjacent to Williamson Park is a cattail marsh. From different points you can peer over the top of the marsh and see coots and moorhens among the reeds. A Sora is often present and can sometimes be seen coming out into the flooded grassy areas of the park. Common Yellowthroat, Song and Swamp Sparrows and Red-winged Blackbirds also inhabit the marsh.

Country Club Lake has had its share of surprises also. A predatory Sharp-shinned Hawk exploits the songbirds populating the mature trees in Williamson Park. And a Black-legged Kittiwake once made a brief visit. This is a place worth checking regularly; you never know what may turn up.

From here it is a little over a mile to Finfeather Lake, a good site for ducks and shorebirds.

Partial Species List

Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, American Bittern, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Greater White-fronted Goose, Snow Goose, Ross's Goose, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mallard, Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Sora, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Spotted Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Ring-billed Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, White-winged Dove, Common Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Jay, Purple Martin, Cave Swallow, Barn Swallow, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Blue-winged Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pine Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, House Finch, American Goldfinch, and House Sparrow.