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SOUTH TEXAS

Whooping Cranes & Rio Grande Valley specialities and migration

Birdquest's South Texas birding tour explores a classic North American birding destination. Our South Texas tour offers the best coverage of this wonderful area and features the very rare and endangered Whooping Crane at its sole regular wintering ground, numerous specialities not to be found elsewhere in the United States and a superb array of wintering and early spring migrating waterbirds and passerines.

Friday 28th March — Sunday 6th April 2014
(10 days)


Leaders: Simon Mitchell and assistant

Group Size Limit: 12

Tour Category: Easy

Positioned at the ornithological crossroads of North America, the Lone Star State boasts the richest avifauna north of Mexico. Texas’s attractions are further enhanced by comfortable accommodations, excellent roads and delightfully easy birding conditions.

South Texas possesses an extraordinary diversity of plan and animal species unique in North America north of the tropics. The lower Rio Grande Valley, one of Texas’s most exciting birding areas, has some 30 species of ‘Mexican’ specialties seen nowhere else in the United States. Each year ‘the Valley’ is host to several Neotropical vagrants and in some years even bird species new to North America!

From late autumn until early spring the Texas coast acts as a secure wintering area for one of the largest concentration of geese, ducks, cranes, shorebirds and other waterbirds in North America, including the magnificent Whooping Crane (now slowly increasing in numbers after being saved from the very jaws of extinction).

The mild climate and the vast areas of suitable habitat make coastal Texas very attractive to waterbirds, but the region has a rich landbird fauna as well. Great numbers of winter visitors swell the ranks of the resident species and there can be few other areas outside the tropics where one can see such a variety of species at this time of year. Our early spring visit is timed to see this fascinating mix of both temperate and tropical wintering birds along with North American breeding species only just arriving from the Neotropical region. This is also the peak period for raptor migration through South Texas and flights of Broad-winged and Swainson’s Hawks can be spectacular.

We begin our travels near Corpus Christi, first exploring the nearby marshes, lagoons and mudflats of the lower Gulf Coast, including the huge Aransas refuge with its magnificent Whooping Cranes.

Next we visit the vast ranching country of Kenedy County with its many raptors, where we shall seek in particular the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl at the northern limit of its distribution, as well as Great Kiskadee, Long-billed Thrasher and Olive Sparrow.

Eventually we will reach the lower Rio Grande Valley with its wide range of habitats from coastal wetlands to riverine woodland and semi-desert. Here we can expect to see Green Parakeet and Red-crowned Parrot (endemic to extreme southeast Texas and northeast Mexico), as well as many other exciting birds including Muscovy Duck, the superb Aplomado Falcon, the noisy Plain Chachalaca, Red-billed Pigeon, White-tipped Dove, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ringed and Green Kingfishers, Couch’s and Tropical Kingbirds, the stunning Green Jay, Clay-colored Robin, White-collared Seedeater and the superb Audubon’s and Altamira Orioles.

Birdquest has operated tours to Texas since 1982.

(Note: The above is a summary of the tour. For more information please download the detailed, day-by-day itinerary. The button is at the top right of the page.)

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/motels are of good or medium standard throughout. Road transport is by minibus/passenger van.

Walking: The walking effort is easy throughout.

Climate: Rather variable. Conditions at this season range from warm to cool and it is usually dry and sunny, but sometimes windy and overcast with rain.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are good.

Tour Price: £1790, €2110, $2720 Corpus Christi/Harlingen.

Price includes all transportation, all accommodations, all meals, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.

Single Room Supplement: £342, €404, $520.

Deposit: £230, €270, $350.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.

Attractive migrants such as Wood Thrush add to the variety of species (Herbert Stärker)

Attractive migrants such as Wood Thrush add to the variety of species (Herbert Stärker)

Wetland species include striking Roseate Spoonbills (Herbert Stärker)

Wetland species include striking Roseate Spoonbills (Herbert Stärker)

... and a good variety of shorebirds, which include smart American Avocets (Herbert Stärker)

... and a good variety of shorebirds, which include smart American Avocets (Herbert Stärker)

In drier country, the charismatic Greater Roadrunner is always a favourite (Herbert Stärker)

In drier country, the charismatic Greater Roadrunner is always a favourite (Herbert Stärker)

... and we'll find noisy Cactus Wrens (Herbert Stärker)

... and we'll find noisy Cactus Wrens (Herbert Stärker)

View Map Download Detailed Itinerary 1079kbpdf logo View Tour Report 1
A variety of migrants include White-eyed Vireo (Herbert Stärker)

A variety of migrants include White-eyed Vireo (Herbert Stärker)

A great variety of American Wood Warblers includes the subtle Ovenbird (Herbert Stärker)

A great variety of American Wood Warblers includes the subtle Ovenbird (Herbert Stärker)

... Hooded Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

... Hooded Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

... Kentucky Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

... Kentucky Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

... Common Yellowthroat (Herbert Stärker)

... Common Yellowthroat (Herbert Stärker)

... and the stripey Worm-eating Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

... and the stripey Worm-eating Warbler (Herbert Stärker)

Vivid colour is provided by the almost flourescent Summer Tanager (Herbert Stärker)

Vivid colour is provided by the almost flourescent Summer Tanager (Herbert Stärker)

The gorgeous Painted Bunting (Herbert Stärker)

The gorgeous Painted Bunting (Herbert Stärker)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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