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Ultimate South Texas Tour


THE ULTIMATE SOUTH TEXAS TOUR

The Gulf Coast, Lower Rio Grande Valley and Hill Country

March 28 to April 8, 2018      

GENERAL INFORMATION:
Experience an amazing blend of Mexican specialties, spring migration, coastal treasures, and endangered species at one of the continent’s most popular birding destinations. We’ll be there at the peak time for diversity, when an overwhelming abundance of migrants mix with the many tropical species found nowhere else in the United States. Over 200 species are likely on this trip through diverse habitats like barrier beaches, tall-grass savannah, native palm trees and hill country. And to top it off, one or more incredible Mexican rarities show up almost every year.

We’ll start off along the Gulf Coast, an area that hosts the rare Whooping Crane and the largest raptor migration in the United States, involving hundreds of thousands of birds. A wide selection of waterfowl, shorebirds, and waders will also add to the excitement, with incredible views of Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret, and much more. Migrant traps along the coast may also turn up songbirds whose movements are already underway. Our passage inland on the way south to the Valley will provide an opportunity for a variety of different species and for the study of unique raptors like Crested Caracara. We will keep our eyes open for the breathtaking beauty of a Vermillion Flycatcher or a hard-to-find Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, the unbelievable sight of hundreds of American White Pelicans wheeling through the sky, and common migrants like the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

 Entering the Lower Rio Grande Valley is like stepping into another birding world, with tropical species at many locations. We will be greeted by Plain Chachalacas, Green Jays, Chihuahuan Ravens, and Great Kiskadees while searching for gems like Hook-billed Kite, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Ringed Kingfisher, Least Grebe, Aplomado Falcon, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Tropical Parula, White-collared Seedeater, Olive Sparrow, and so many more!! And the number of Mexican rarities to grace this region is phenomenal, with unbelievable sightings such as Crane Hawk, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, and White-throated Robin, and the likes of Blue Mockingbird, Green-breasted Mango, Slate-throated Redstart, and Golden-crowned Warbler recorded in recent years.

We’ll finish our trek in the Texas Hill Country, a unique habitat that hosts the endangered Black-capped Vireo and Golden-cheeked Warbler – the only place in the world this species nests. While here, where East meets West, we’ll encounter another suite of species, including Yellow-throated Vireo, Painted Bunting, Canyon Wren, and more, and may have a chance to witness millions of Mexican Free-tailed bats as they exit a cave.  This is a trip that a birder will treasure for a lifetime! 


ACTIVITY LEVEL:  MODERATE

This tour has been given an activity level of Moderate. It is considered a more active tour with daily intermediate to long-distance walking, usually on flat, smooth terrain. It also involves a water crossing over intercoastal waters, with the possibility of moderate seas for a short duration. Those with physical limitations should take these factors into consideration, or contact the tour leader for details.

The tour starts/ends in Corpus Christi, Texas. Additional information about the tour, with specific meeting times, accommodations, lists of things to bring, a reading list, further information about weather, dress, and so forth, will be mailed to all participants well in advance of the tour.

TOUR SIZE: This tour is limited to 10 participants.

PACE, WEATHER, AND TRAVEL CONDITIONS: The focus of the tour will be birds and scenery, but we will have time for other wildlife, botany, and photography. Ground transportation will be in a 15 person van or mini-van. All accommodations are at standard hotels or lodges, with stays of one, two, or three nights each, with each room having private baths.  

Expect a warm to hot climate, depending on current weather systems, with daily high temperatures usually in the 60s to 80s, with a chance at the 90s in the Valley. Nighttime lows are usually in the 50s or 60s, with the 40s possible in the Hill Country. Rain is possible throughout, but generally scarce. The pace is relaxed, with some long days, and some hikes of one-two miles on easy to moderate terrain (a couple woodland trails with exposed roots and uneven ground). Several days will have long drives (2.5 to 3 hours) to reach the next birding area or return to Corpus Christi.

DATES: Wednesday, March 28 to Sunday, April 8

PRICE: $3395 based on double occupancy; $600 single supplement (payable if you request single occupancy or if we can not find you a suitable roommate). A deposit of $500 will hold your place until January 31, 2018 when full payment becomes due.

PRICE INCLUDES: Professional guide services are included for the duration of the tour. This tour also includes eleven nights of accommodation and all meals, from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 12. The cost of all entrance fees, including a boat trip into coastal marshes and access to the King Ranch are included.

NOT INCLUDED: Transportation to/from Corpus Christi is not included.  Price does not include alcoholic beverages, laundry, and items of a personal nature.

SEND DEPOSITS & OTHER PAYMENTS TO:

NJ Audubon Eco-Travel
c/o Center for Research and Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
Phone: (609) 400-3852
Please make checks payable to New Jersey Audubon

OR

by email to travel@njaudubon.org

TOUR LEADERS:

Brett Ewald: Brett is the Program Director of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory, facilitating the appreciation and understanding of birds and nature through their full schedule of walks, workshops, presentations, and research.  He has been enthralled with birds for over 35 years, specializing in migration and distribution patterns, including as Director of the Hamlin Beach Lakewatch for Braddock Bay Raptor Research in New York.  These endeavors have taken him from the mountains of New Mexico to the beaches of New Jersey -- including a stint (no pun intended) as the Cape May hawkwatch counter in 1990.  

For sixteen years, Brett was the owner and guide for Lakeshore Nature Tours, focusing on the birdlife of North America at the premier destinations, from the Arctic Ocean in Alaska to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  Brett currently resides in Cape May and shares his favorite moments with his wife, Sheryl, and their energetic companion, Neah Bay, a Treeing Walker Coonhound.  Brett looks forward to putting his knowledge, experience and enthusiasm to work for you.

~~ Photos courtesy Brett Ewald


For tour itineraries, to register, or for more information contact:

NJ Audubon Eco-Travel at: (609)-400-3852
c/o NJ Audubon Center for Research and Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
or email
travel@njaudubon.org.