Texas Gulf Coast and Rio Grande Valley Trip — November 11–18, 2017
CBC is pleased to announce a bonus trip to southern Texas in November. Texas is where the western species start, and winter is perhaps the best time to visit, with mild temperatures, little rain and great birds. Driving south to the Valley, we'll follow the Rio Grande west to Laredo. If you have never birded west of the Mississippi River, you can expect to come home with 50+ lifers. Rarities are always possible. In the past few trips, we've seen Northern Jacana, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat and Amazon Kingfisher in two different years. We missed a White-throated Thrush by two days. The 2016 trip finished with 194 species.
We'll fly into San Antonio on Friday evening. On Saturday morning, we'll start for the Gulf with a stop at Choke Canyon State Park , looking for Crested Caracara and White-tailed Hawk on our drive there. Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and Goose Island State Park are on our afternoon schedule. Sunday morning will be spent on a boat in Aransas Bay to see Whooping Cranes, with 10-15 likely. Ducks and shorebirds are plentiful on the trip also, along with Long-billed Curlews. After birding several spots around Corpus Christi, we'll start working our way south to Kingsville.
On Monday morning we'll drive along fields looking for Snow, Ross's and Greater White-fronted Geese before they take off for the day. Sandhill Cranes should be seen also. Sarita Rest Stop will give us our first of dozens of Green Jays, easily the most striking of the Jay family, along with Brewer's Blackbird. Also possible are Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Bronzed Cowbird and Lesser Goldfinch. A little farther south are fields where we'll look for Mountain Plover and Sprague's Pipit. Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife is our next stop. It, and the road to it, are good for Aplomado Falcon. We'll walk a trail and check out Lake Atascosa. Finishing our day on South Padre Island, we'll stay in Brownsville.
We'll go to Sabal Palms Audubon Sanctuary on Tuesday morning, for Green Kingfisher, Least Grebe, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Olive Sparrow, White-tipped Dove, Clay-colored Thrush and the first of many Great Kiskadees. The area around a hacking site on Highway 100 should be good for Aplomado Falcon. Resaca de la Palmas State Park will be visited also. We'll finish the day at Oliviera Park in Brownsville for Red-crowned Parrot. There are dozens and the raucous noise alone is a treat.
On Wednesday, we'll start with Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and spend some time on the Hawk Tower, looking for Hook-billed Kite. Plain Chachalacas are plentiful here, coming to the feeders, along with Altimira Orioles and Long-billed Thrashers. Greater Roadrunner is a possibility also. Our next stop is Estero Llano State Park, where roosting Common Pauraque is very likely. A view from ten feet is not uncommon. Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks are likely here also. Visits to Frontera Audubon Thicket and Edinburgh Wetlands finish the day.
On Thursday, we'll bird Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park in the morning and Anzalduas County Park, a good spot for Ringed Kingfisher and Vermillion Flycatcher, in the afternoon. Nesting Monk Parakeets can be found near Hidalgo Pumphouse.
Continuing west, we'll visit Roma Bluffs, Salineno, Chapeno, Zapata and San Ygnacio. We're getting into Audubon Oriole territory, with a slim chance for Brown Jay and Muscovy Duck. Falcon State Park is desert scrub, good for Pyrrhuloxia, Cactus Wren and Black-throated Sparrow. Our last morning will be spent in Laredo, where our top target bird will be White-collared Seedeater. After a couple more stops, we'll drive back to San Antonio in the afternoon for our flights home on Sunday.
The price for the trip is $1350 for double occupancy and $465 for single supplement. This includes nine nights lodging with breakfast, ground transportation, entry fees, Whooping Crane boat tour and guided birding each day. You pay air fare, lunches, dinners and any personal spending. The trip is limited to seven participants. A deposit of $500, due by Aug. 21st, will hold your spot, with the balance due by Sep. 11th. If you must cancel, a full refund will be given until Sep. 11th. Cancellations after the 11th allow for a refund only if someone is found to take your place.
The leader for the trip is Ron Clark. This will be his eighth time to the area, five of which were taking groups. If you are interested in going or have any questions, contact him via email.You will get registration information, a species list from last year's trip, and a link to photos from previous trips.