Plants and Wildlife Found at Jones Park
With over 300 acres of floodplain forest, Jones Park is home to a diverse group of amphibians and reptiles. From the tiny narrow-mouthed toads and baby Gulf Coast toads to seven-foot-long Texas rat snakes and American alligators, visitors have the opportunity to view a wealth of cold-blooded, scaly animals.
A favorite stop for visitors to see amphibians and reptiles is the cypress pond at the intersection of the Canoe Launch Trail and the Cypress Overlook Trail. Visitors can receive bags of turtle food at the nature center for a nominal donation to the Jesse Jones Park Volunteer organization. Scores of red-eared sliders and river cooter turtles will race towards the overlook deck to gulp hungrily at these tasty treats.
The local snake exhibit in the nature center is a great opportunity for park visitors to learn more about the native venomous and non-venomous snake species. Live specimens of all six species of venomous snakes that have been documented in Harris County can be viewed up close.
Throughout the year, the park offers many amphibian- and reptile-related programs, including specific programs on turtles, snakes, and frogs.
Article: Snakes Alive! (PDF)
For more detailed information on snakes of the Harris County area, visit www.petflytrap.com/SnakesKeyList.html
Checklist: Reptiles and Amphibians (PDF)
Common amphibians found at Jones Park
Common reptiles found at Jones Park
Jones Park is home to a vast array of spiders, although most go unseen by park visitors. Spiders are not bugs or insects: they are part of the Arachnida (arachnids) class that also includes scorpions, mites and ticks, and harvestmen (daddy-longlegs). You can tell a spider by its two body parts: 1. the head and thorax (first body section) make up the cephalothorax, which the eight legs are attached to; and 2. the abdomen.
All spiders are predators, but only some build elaborate trapping nets like the golden silk orb weaver (commonly called golden orb weavers or banana spiders). This large spider builds her big yellow web near or across trails, which make her easy to spot particularly during the hot summer months. Some species, like the six-spotted fishing spider, hunt near or on the water and can catch small fish and tadpoles while other species, like the phidippus jumping spider, pounce on their prey.
Dedicated as stop #038 on the Upper Texas Coastal Map of The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, Jones Park provides important nesting grounds for year-round residents such as the Carolina Chickadee and Northern Cardinal, and is an important stopover for many migratory birds. Birders from literally all over the world put Jones Park on the list of birding hotspots.
Lucky birders might see a Bald Eagle, Osprey, Green Kingfisher, Louisiana Waterthrush, Indigo Bunting, Barred Owl, Common Yellowthroat, Nothern Parula, White Ibis, or Roseate Spoonbill to name a few.
All bird census data from 1997 through present day is available online at www.ebird.org/tx.
The best time for bird watching is early morning, and you are guaranteed to see many of our feathered friends any day of the year.
Jones Park offers a variety of birding programs throughout the year.
Birds Found at Jones Park
Fishing in Jones Park is permitted on the banks of Spring Creek only, and compliance with state fishing laws is enforced by game wardens. Late winter and early spring are successful times for catching white bass and crappie; catfish can be caught year-round.
Jones Park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and the natural wonder of Spring Creek’s white sand beaches while practicing your fishing skills.
Anglers ages 17 and older are required by law to possess a valid Texas fishing license with a freshwater stamp. All fishing regulations and license requirements can be found on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website, or in their Outdoor Annual publication. All fishing requirements and regulations are enforced by Texas game wardens.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Web site, a license is not required if you:
- are under 17 years of age.
- were born before Sept. 1, 1930.
- have mental disabilities and are participating in a medically approved therapy, under the immediate supervision of personnel approved or employed by a hospital, residence, or school for those with mental disabilities. The person with mental disabilities must carry credentials identifying the entity supplying the service. This authorization may be in the form of an identification card that contains the name of the sponsoring entity.
- are a person with mental disabilities and you are fishing under the direct supervision of a licensed angler who is a family member or a licensed angler that has permission from the family to take the person with mental disabilities fishing. While fishing, the person with mental disabilities needs a note from a doctor stating the person has been diagnosed as mentally disabled.
When to Fish at Jones Park
Late winter and early spring are the most favorable times of year for catching white and striped bass. Contact the nature center for current water conditions.
Fishing Programs for the Entire Family
A variety of fishing programs designed to teach angler ethics, fish identification and habitats, knot tying, and other essential angler skills are offered at Jones Park. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s junior and master angler workshops are offered periodically. Please check the program schedule for upcoming fishing programs.
- Fishing’s Future First Catch Center Events
- Junior Angler Workshop
- Fish of Spring Creek
- Water Ecology
For more information on fishing programs, please refer to the current program calendar schedule.
Insects, being the most diverse terrestrial animals, outnumber all other animals, and the habitat of Jones Park is no exception. This becomes clear when one goes on a bug safari. Visitors can literally spend hours exploring a 25 yard stretch of any one of Jones Park’s trails or bodies of water, counting, describing, and identifying thousands of the small creatures.
Some of their names might invoke anxiety, while others inspire curiosity.With titles such as Cow killer, Caterpillar hunter, Hickory horn devil, Owl fly, Bee hunter, and Elephant beetle, it’s hard not to pay attention. Most of these creatures encountered are harmless to humans and are an integral part of the environment. They provide others with food, clean up waste, provide cures for illnesses, keep a check on pests, and pollinate flowering plants.
Butterflies and Moths
Common reptiles found at Jones Park.
Checklist: Butterflies and Moths (PDF)
Dragonflies and Damselflies
Common reptiles found at Jones Park.
Checklist: Dragonflies and Damselflies (PDF)
Other insects found at Jones Park
Jones Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife. As you visit the park, there is a good chance you might encounter some very interesting creatures. Wildlife is meant to be just that, “wild.” Please be cautious and respectful of their home.
If you come across an orphaned or injured wildlife, please refer to these guidelines: Wildlife Rescue Information. If you still have questions, before you help them, please contact Jones Park, or one of the appropriate wildlife rescue organizations.
Common mammals found at Jones Park.
Checklist: Mammals of Jones Park (PDF)
The plant diversity within Jones Park is vast, with over 750 species, rivalling some of the world’s best known preserves. Click here for a complete list of non-cultivated plants at Jones Park (PDF). The forest is dominated by the towering loblolly pine trees, which are found throughout all the plant communities of the park. Other plants within Jones Park include:
|Upland canopy species include black hickory, common persimmon, post oak, southern magnolia, southern red oak, sweet gum, water oak, and white oak.|
|Upland mid- and understory trees include American holly, black cherry, eastern hop-hornbeam, eastern redbud,flowering dogwood, fringe tree, green hawthorn, little hip hawthorn, red bay, sassafras, and yaupon.|
|Bottomland and Swamp canopy species include American elm, bald cypress, cedar elm, Drummond red maple, green ash, sweet gum,water hickory, water oak, and willow oak.|
|Bottomland and swamp mid- and understory tree species include American snowbell, farkleberry, elderberry, and ironwood.|
|Riverbanks and open wet areas are lined by American sycamore, black willow, box elder, and river birch.|
|Vines are abundant and include Alabama supplejack, Carolina jasmine, catbriar, climbing hempvine, coral honeysuckle, crossvine, dutchman’s pipe vine, muscadine grape, mustang grape, poison ivy, saw greenbriar, and trumpet creeper.|
|Flowers, grasses, sedges, reeds, rushes, ferns, and mosses are too numerous to list here. Some highlights of the more uncommon species found at Jones Park include American mandrake, creeping burhead, green dragon, meadow pinks, October ladies’ tresses orchid, sand palafoxia, and Texas tauschia.|