A Birding Paradise
By Jacqueline Gonzalez
By: Jaqueline Gonzales Photos by: Jason Page
Twelve years ago, Randall Lockridge and his wife, Dawn Grosser, moved to Corpus Christi and discovered a love for birding. Six years into their stay, they found a home in Oak Motte Sanctuary – a unique birding retreat. The retreat, nestled comfortably in a wooded nature preserve in the Packery Channel area of the Island, provided all the necessary elements for a clean and relaxing vacation home.
Randall recalls the first time he and his wife saw the home: “I walked up on a hawk the first time I walked around the home, and we both jumped.” Randall and Dawn both fell in love with the unique environment, and knew it would make the perfect vacation home.
Although they loved the surroundings, renovations were in order. Randall added a new room, exterior siding, and new windows. A new door in a bright, fun, beachy yellow shade is a wonderful addition, which makes finding the house much easier, while adding a splash of colorful personality.
Renovations to the landscaping were essential to enhance the richness of the sanctuary. Randall enlisted the help of Native Dave, a local professional landscaper, to add charm representative of a birding sanctuary. Since native plants are – naturally – suited to the local soil and climate, Native Dave harvested hundreds of plants from a property on the island that was scheduled to be demolished. He brought these plants to Randall’s home to repopulate the area with natural plants, executing a safe, inviting sanctuary that provides a relaxing and peaceful spot for the birds.
The natural look creates a messy and unkempt vibe, but because native plants don’t require the same upkeep as store-bought plants, as long as the plants are left alone, they grow beautifully. The Padre Island Flower, Texas Blue Stem, and Wild Mustang Grapes are just a few of the local plants that adorn the home. The new landscaping not only offers a sanctuary for the many species of birds, it also provides curb appeal for a relaxing vacation home. During their stay, Randall and Dawn have seen tree frogs, coyotes, and egrets. Although Corpus Christi is naturally a tropical climate, the home attracts different animals that can’t be found in the city.
The distinctive home, which resembles a tree house, is designed with the living quarters on the second floor, sitting atop a 1,400-square-foot garage. The elevated design of the home offers wraparound decks, with a breathtaking view of the many species of birds flying around atop the tops of the trees. Although a beach house is a staple retreat over the summer, the birding retreat aspect still holds appeal during the fall. The close proximity of the Packery Channel offers a completely different environment and a great place to take a stroll while enjoying the cooler fall air.
The clean white shade of the interior walls creates the perfect backdrop for the coastal birding beach house décor in the home. The furniture, a combination of estate sale finds and furniture store hauls, gives a fresh, local spin different from the traditional beachy décor. Randall makes the most out of the wall space with Charlie Harper birding prints on the wall, offering the perfect touch to the contemporary birding motif. The shelves house a display of books on Coastal Bend birding, poisonous plants, and various elements on the Island. Although unique in décor and location, this residence has the welcoming vibe of a home, perfect for having family and friends over.
As an added gem, there is a private entrance to the nature preserve in the back of the house, built on an ancient dune with an entrance that steps down into the nature preserve. This addition was made possible by the previous owner when he donated one of his lots to the preserve.
The home is close to all the essential tourist locations: North Padre Island, Mustang Island, Schlitterbahn, and the beach, but the location is in the perfect place for peace and quiet.
Although Dawn and Randall have since moved to Dallas, the uniquely wonderful property remains their vacation home, and the perfect place for a family that still loves their connection to Corpus Christi.