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2020 Trips

 

Corpus Christi is the heart of the Texas Coastal Bend,

a region most birders have on their bucket list.

 

Many birds native to South Texas are found nowhere else in North America. Think Couch's Kingbird, Great Kisskadee, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, White-tipped Dove, Groove-billed Ani, and Green Jay. And during the spring migration, the variety and abundance of birds is simply spectacular. Springtime in the Coastal Bend brings blossoms and birds to the fields and trees in the form of wildflowers and trans-gulf migrants to Rockport, Port Aransas, and Corpus Christi. When conditions are right, hawks, swallows, anhingas, and white pelicans ride the winds from the south.

We have planned this year’s field trips to provide the best possible opportunities for spotting endemic birds, while also allowing visitors to experience some of the region’s iconic birding spots. We’ve also enlisted many local bird experts, as tour guides. Their expertise and identification skills are sure to enhance all of your birding adventures.
 

We have limited the number of birders on all of our field trips, to provide a more intimate atmosphere. So, sign up early to secure a spot.

 

Water and snacks are provided on all trips.

Remember to bring your own insect repellent and sunscreen. 

Departure times are listed, but please plan to arrive 15 minutes early.

King Ranch

 
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This historic ranch should be on every birder’s wish list. The King Ranch’s four divisions span more than 825,000 acres, making it larger than Rhode Island. The property is listed on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail and is listed as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy. The ranch boasts an impressive 363 bird species. Over the years, the ranch also has attracted many rare birds, including Double-striped Thick-knee, Eurasian Wigeon, Masked Duck, Aplomado Falcon, and Garganey.

The Norias Division has vast tracts of habitat that are home to a variety of South Texas specialty birds, including the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Tropical Parula, Northern Beardless- Tyrannulet, Audubon’s Oriole, Botteri’s Sparrow, Green Jay, White-tailed Hawk, Olive Sparrow, and many others.  Your tour guide is Tom Langschied, the King Ranch’s visitor program manager.
 

This has been the most popular field trip and sells out very quickly. This full-day of birding comes with lunch, vegetarian available.  

Space is limited to 20 per day maximum.

Thursday, April 23 & Saturday, April 25

5:30 am to 3:30 pm                $160 per person

The Laureles Division of King Ranch is the northernmost region of the property. It is the nearest
and is the largest division of the ranch, spanning more than 250,000 acres. This birding adventure explores a variety of upland and wetland habitats. With adequate rainfall, the Laureles has one of the largest freshwater marshes in Texas. Generally, birders see a wide variety of birds, including waterfowl, shorebirds, hawks, and sparrows. In recent years, birders on April trips have counted 10,000 or more migrating hawks. This trip does not include searches for the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Tropical Parula, and some of the ranch’s other uncommon birds, because these species are found only within the Norias Division.

Space is limited to 18 per day maximum.

Wednesday, April 22

 7:30 am to 12:30 pm             $65 per person

 

The Santa Gertrudis Division  

is the third largest, as well as the original tract owned by Capt. Richard King.  This division, primarily in Kleberg County, has a variety of brushland habitats as well as several ponds and lakes. The seasonal and habitat diversity generally provide for a nice variety of lingering winter residents, summer residents, and tropical species. Birds to look for include the Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Northern Bobwhite, Least Grebe, Greater Roadrunner, White-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, Vermillion Flycatcher, Green Jay, Olive Sparrow, and
others.

Space is limited to 18 per day maximum.

Friday, April 25

7:00 am to 12:30 pm              $65 per person

Fennessey Ranch

 

This 4,000-acre ranch is rich with sprawling wetlands, meadows, natural lakes, riparian woods, and brushland, bordered on three sides by the Mission River. Spring migration tours on the ranch have been offered for more than two decades. More than 400 bird species have been
tallied here.


Our half-day trip will cover the most primitive part of the ranch, encompassing prairie, riparian wetland and marsh habitats. Expect to see resident Bald Eagles. Other birds you’re likely to see include the Green Jay, Roadrunner and Painted Bunting. Enjoy a hay-wagon ride around the ranch with trip leader Sally “Famous Shoes” Crofutt, along with other local experts.

Space is limited to 22 per day maximum.

Friday, April 24

6:30 to 12:30 pm                    $65 per person.

 

Guadalupe Delta Wildlife Management Area

This is one of the top five birdiest spots in the nation, based on the annual Christmas Bird Count. More than 350 bird species have been recorded within the wildlife management
area. The tour takes visitors through freshwater marshes, where they are likely to spot the Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Cinnamon Teal, Least Bittern and Purple Gallinule. We will walk along a road through a lush riparian forest within the Guadalupe River floodplain, where we will seek Anhingas, Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, Barred Owls, Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, Prothonotary Warblers, and migrant flycatchers, thrushes and warblers.

 

There are no restrooms on this tour.

Lunch is at the nearby Dairy Queen (cost not included), where there is a restroom.

Space is limited to 11 per day maximum.

Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25

6:00 am to 3:30 pm                    $75 per person.

 

Looking for shorebirds and seabirds, while driving along the beach, is a treat for those who do not live near the ocean. The popularity of this tour is enhanced by the fact that this is a world-class migrant trap for neotropical species. Plus, this adventure offers some very birdy freshwater ponds and marshes, where you’ll see sparrows, ducks, and wading birds. Generally, visitors can easily see more than 100 species in a single day. For a complete description of this
field trip, go to the Port Aransas Field Trip tab.

Wednesday, April 22, Friday, April 24

& Saturday, April 25

7:00 am to 12:00pm                      $55 per person

Port Aransas Hot Spots

Rockport-Fulton Hot Spots

 

This field trip has it all, beaches, coastal prairie, freshwater ponds and marshes, oak mottes, and so much more. It’s got shorebirds, waders, sparrows, and, of course, neotropical migrants. It would easier to list the birds that you won’t see here.

This full-day trip does not come with lunch, but we will stop by Subway to pick up sandwiches (or whatever you choose) and have a picnic.

 

Thursday, April 23 and Saturday, April 25

6:30 am to 3:30 pm                $75 per person

Hazel Bazemore Park and Pollywog Pond

 

Best known as an official Hawk Watch spot in the fall, Hazel Bazemore Park boasts the largest and most diverse convergence of migrating raptors in the United States. But springtime brings color to this park, providing visitors with a robust sampling of South Texas species, including Green Jays, Kiskadees, White-tipped Dove, Couch's Kingbirds and Buff-bellied Hummingbirds. This tour has gifted more than one birder a lifer, when they spotted a Groove-billed Ani in the park. The bird list for the park stands at 351 species.
 

Pollywog Ponds are a stone's throw east of Hazel Bazemore Park. Its lush vegetation and marshy areas consistently hold a remarkable variety of birds in any season. Least Grebes are here year-round. Green Kingfishers are resident. Watch for unusual strays here, such as the Masked Duck and Piratic Flycatcher. Try not to blink during your visit. According to eBird, birders have spotted 325 species at Pollywog.

 

Thursday, April 23

6:30 am to 12:00pm                                 $55 per person.

Lake Choke Canyon State Park

 

This lake is located north of Corpus Christi, at the edge of thorn-brush desert which hosts a somewhat different suite of birds. We may gain entry to the riparian area below the dam as well.

 

The diversity here is terrific, with a hundred species being possible. 325 species have been recorded in eBird for Choke Canyon. Audubon Oriole, Cactus Wren, Verdin, Black-throated Sparrow, Black Phoebe and Vermilion Flycatcher will be some of our target birds.

 

This full-day trip comes with lunch, vegetarian available.

Ticket price include entry fee.

Thursday, April 23

5:30 am to 3:30 pm                $85 per person

Aransas National

Wildlife Refuge

 

This refuge north of Rockport is an important stopover for many migrants, while being well known among birders for its exceptional variety of resident and transient birds. The refuge has documented 93 nesting species and nearly 400 birds overall. Large tracts of natural coastal prairie and Live Oak mottes provide habitat for many spring migrants and resident birds.  We can expect to see the Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret, White-faced Ibis, Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Mottled Duck, and the Least Grebe.

 

Walking trails within the refuge provide opportunities to see migrant passerines such as the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Gray Catbird, various thrushes, thrashers and orioles.  Also expect to see many warbler species. Wear protective clothing, and bring bug spray and sunscreen. This adventure includes some light hiking on mostly level ground, so wear comfortable shoes. 
 

We’ll provide lunch, which includes a vegetarian option.

 

Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25

6:00 am to 3:30 pm                            $85 per person

 

Big Day- FULL DAY TRIP

This 10-hour tour is fast-paced, challenging, and fun. We understand that seeing and hearing as many species of birds as possible in a single day is not for everyone, but many birders consider it a must during a springtime visit to Corpus Christi. We’ll cover as many spots as time allows,
based on where the best birds have been spotted by our team of bird scouters. With good weather and a little luck, this adventure may earn participants a spot in 150 Club. We’ve enlisted our best birding eyes and ears to lead this trip.

 

Lunch (not included) will be flexible. We recommend Whataburger, a Texas staple that originated in Corpus Christi in 1950.

We’ll need a midday break.

Space is limited to 20 per day maximum.

Friday, April 24 only

5:30 am to 3:30 pm                            $85 per person

 

Knolle Jersey Farm-River Pasture

Local birders have long known about this birding area’s rolling hills and open pastures, a peaceful spot for viewing raptors and sparrows.  The former dairy farm stretches for 300 acres along the Nueces River. It’s especially good this time of year, for spotting the Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Green Jay, Great Kisskadee, and Black-crested Titmouse. The enchanting forest of ancient towering oaks, dripping with Spanish moss, creates an idyllic rural setting. The river
region attracts a colorful spring migration of neotropical migrants and an impressive variety of 20 raptor species that includes the Swallow-tailed Kite. Plus, this swath of South Texas scrub-brush may offer a glimpse of a Pyrrhuloxia, Verdin, Greater Roadrunner, Bewick’s Wren, and even a chance to see a Cactus Wren or Say’s Phoebe. Along the river, we will look for Green Kingfishers.

Space is limited to 20 per day maximum.

Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25

6:30 am to 12:30 pm                            $65 per person

Birding with David Sibley

 

David Allen Sibley, is the author and illustrator of a popular series of field guides that bear his name, including the New York Times best seller The Sibley Guide to Birds. His art and articles have graced the pages of Smithsonian Science, The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Birding, Bird Watching, and North American Birds. He is a recipient of the Roger Tory Peterson Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Birding Association.  He lives in Concord,
Massachusetts.

 

David’s co-leader will be Corpus Christi’s own Clay Taylor, Naturalist Market Manager for Swarovski Optik. Taylor led last year’s Big Day field trip, which recorded 150 species, so he knows the area well.

 

The route this adventure takes is based on birds spotted in the days leading up to departure time.

It is strictly limited to 20 people.

Saturday, April 25

7:00 am to 12:00 pm                            $95 per person

Shorebirds of the Coastal Bend

 

The Coastal Bend holds an enviable number and variety of shorebirds. So, this field trip is designed especially for folks with a fascination and curiosity for water birds, but who also may find identifying them difficult. Consider this outing a workshop for honing your skills with a shorebird expert. Master birder, Mel Cooksey, will guide you through the subtle physical and behavior traits of these birds. Among his many credentials, Mel is co-author of the American Birding Association’s ABA Birdfinding Guide to the Texas Coast (2006). Expect to see and learn about the Snowy and Piping Plover, Reddish Egret, and American Oystercatcher, among other species. Scouts will search shorelines the day before to provide the best possibility for spotting the widest species variety.

Thursday, April 23 and Saturday, April 25

 7:00 am until 12:00pm                            $55 per person.

Chasing Warblers and other Migrants!

 

For many, this is what the spring migration is all about. Around here, April is an enjoyable, and sometimes exhausting, time to chase migrating land birds that flit and feed throughout the area. We’ve lessened the challenge by narrowing down the places to look. The birders who lead
these trips know the most likely hot spots to find the species you want to see. They’ll decide where to go based on weather conditions, birding reports, and years of experience. This time of year, we truly never know what species will turn up.

 

On a good day, you might spot 20-plus warbler species, along with buntings, grosbeaks, tanagers, orioles, and more.

 

Wednesday, April 22, Thursday, April 23,

& Sunday, April 26

7:00 am to 12:00 pm                                 $55 per person

 

Texas Scramble

 

A scramble is a fieldtrip designed to capitalize on the most coveted birds seen during preceding fieldtrips throughout the festival. If there is a fallout, the trip will concentrate on neotropical migrants. If a particular rare bird was spotted earlier, we’ll hunt for it. If you need a certain species for your life list, let the tour guide know. If the species is not extinct, it’s likely the group will search for it. The leader will seek to satisfy as many requests as possible.

 

Sunday, April 26

7:00 am to 12:00 pm                                 $55 per person

 

 

Skimmer Boat Tour

Join Capt. Tommy Moore on the Skimmer for this

comfortable four-hour spectacular. You will visit four rookery islands for colonial waterbirds to observe their magnificent spring rituals. This will include some of the bird’s quirkiest behaviors, performed while courting, sparring, mating
and nesting. Bring a camera to capture the antics of egrets, herons, pelicans, spoonbills, terns, skimmers, and a variety of shorebirds. 

 

This tour departs from Fulton Harbor in Rockport-Fulton, which is about an hour’s drive from the Botanical Gardens.

 

This is a fun and relaxing tour at the end of the festival. If home is north of Corpus Christi, it may even be on your way.

Transportation to the harbor is not provided.  

Space is limited to 34 per day maximum.

Trip will be canceled if less then 15 register.

Sunday, April 26

8:00 am to 12:00 pm                                 $85 per person

 

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