2022 field Trips

 

Corpus Christi is the heart of the Coastal Bend of Texas,

a region on the bucket list of most birders. 

 

You will have to come our way to find many South Texas species that are found nowhere else in North America.  Think Couch’s Kingbird, Great Kisskadee, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, White-tipped Dove, Groove-billed Ani, Green Jay….but the jaw-dropping abundance and variety of birds found here is best demonstrated in Spring migration.  You have read of Spring mornings in the Coastal Bend where the trees are dripping with trans-gulf migrants; Rockport, Port Aransas, and Corpus Christi are likely best-known for such events.  Any Spring day, when conditions are right, rivers of hawks, swallows, Anhingas and White Pelicans can be seen streaming overhead.  Our field trips with this Festival have been planned to give you the best opportunities to see the special endemic birds, as well as to visit those locales which harbor the greatest opportunity to experience our amazing Spring bird spectacle.  Add to that our local experts, who will guide you to their special places and you have the best of all birding trips.

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 PROVIDED ON ALL TRIPS!

REMEMBER TO BRING YOUR OWN BUG SPRAY AND SUNSCREEN!

TIMES LISTS ARE FOR DEPARTURE – PLAN TO ARRIVE 15 MINUTES EARLY

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King Ranch

 
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Every birder needs to visit the storied King Ranch at least once in their lifetime.  The 4 Divisions of the ranch span over 825,000 acres, an area larger than Rhode Island.  Named as a site on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail and as Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy.  The Ranch boasts a bird list of 363 species.  Over the years, the Ranch has also hosted a large number of 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 Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Tropical Parula, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Audubon’s Oriole, Botteri’s Sparrow, Green Jay, White-tailed Hawk, Olive Sparrow, and much more.  This has been the most popular field trip and sells out very quickly.  Tom Langschied, Visitor Program Manager for the King Ranch, will be the leader. 

 

A Box Lunch will be provided:   

Ham, Turkey or Vegetarian (please specify).

 

 

MAXIMUM 18 People Per Day

Thursday – April 21 and Friday – April 22

5:30AM – 3:30PM

$170.00 per person

 

Guadalupe Delta Wildlife Management Area

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This site is one of the Top 5 Christmas Bird Counts in the nation.  A very productive area where over 350 species of birds have been reported on the wildlife management area.  The tour will drive through freshwater marshes with Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Cinnamon Teal, Least Bittern and Purple Gallinule.  We will walk along the road through the lush riparian forest of the Guadalupe River floodplain where we will seek Anhinga, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Barred Owl, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Prothonotary Warbler, and migrant flycatchers, thrushes and warblers.

 

The leader for this trip is Brent Ortego, who is the Christmas Bird Count compiler for this area and is very familiar with all it's hidden treasures and what it has to offer.

 

A Box Lunch will be provided:  

Ham, Turkey or Vegetarian (please specify).

 

 

MAXIMUM 11 People Per Day

Friday – April 22 and Saturday – April 23

6:00AM – 3:30PM

$95.00 per person

 

BARNHART Q5 RANCH
& NATURE RETREAT

NEW

This ranch has been designated with the Lone Star Land Steward Award in recognition of its wildlife and land conservation efforts.  The owners continue to work to balance cattle operations with preservation of wildlife habitat on 700 acres of land.  As part of their operations they offer an ecotourism experience to individuals, groups and families by providing opportunities to experience the working ranch operations and nature.  The ranch has three guest houses with all the comforts of home, that may be rented for overnight stays.  Bird feeders are kept year-round at these houses, plus at several of the ponds to provide food sources for the birds staying at or migrating thru the ranch.  The Ranch maintains 12 miles of hiking trails and two viewing blinds on its ponds.

 

The Ranch is situated in the Texas Ecoregion transition zone from the Post Oak Savannah to the Tamaulipan Thornscrub Ecosystems near the town of Berclair.  Some of the notable birds are Green Jay, Great Kisskadee, Crested Caracara, and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks to name a few.  In addition to the abundant birdlife, the Ranch plays host to a wide diversity of other wildlife including bobcat, coyotes, armadillos, Texas Horned lizards, Indigo snakes, and a multitude of other animals.

 

A Box Lunch will be provided:  

Ham, Turkey or Vegetarian (please specify)

Wraps and Fruit Salad

 

 

MAXIMUM 22 People Per Day

Thursday – April 21 and Saturday – April 23

6:00AM – 3:30PM

$110.00 per person

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Rockport-Fulton

Hot Spots

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This field trip has it all, beaches, coastal prairie, freshwater pond and marsh, oak mottes and so much more.  Shorebirds, waders, sparrows, and of course neotropic migrants, it would be easier to say what it would not have.  

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.

 

 

Friday - April 22 (max 22 people)

& Saturday – April 23 (max 11 people)

6:30AM – 3:30PM

$85.00 per person

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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.

 

The leaders for this trip will be Cameron Cox and a top birder, Willie Sekula.

 

A Box Lunch will be provided:  

Ham, Turkey or Vegetarian (please specify).

 

 

MAXIMUM 22 People Per Day

Friday – April 22

6:00AM – 3:30PM

$95.00 per person (includes Entry Fee)

Lake Choke Canyon State Park

 
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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. 
 

A Box Lunch will be provided:   Ham, Turkey or Vegetarian (please specify).

 

 

MAXIMUM 11 People Per Day

Thursday – April 21 and Saturday – April 23

6:00AM – 3:30PM

$95.00 per person

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Big Day- FULL DAY TRIP

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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 some of our best birding eyes and ears, Clay Taylor or David Sarkozi,  to lead this trip.

Lunch (NOT INCLUDED) will be flexible, maybe a stop at a local Whataburger (a Texas staple that originated in Corpus Christi in 1950), as we will need a mid-day break.

 

 

MAXIMUM 20 People Per Day

Thursday – April 21

5:30AM – 3:30PM

$95.00 per person

HALF DAY TRIPS

 
 

PORT ARANSAS HOT SPOTS

Driving on the beach while looking for shorebirds and seabirds is a treat for those that do not live near the ocean.  Add in a world class neotropic migrant trap and very birdy freshwater pond and marsh, plus sparrows, ducks, and waders; makes this area fairly easy to see over 100 species in a single day. 

 

 

MAXIMUM 22 People Per Day

Wednesday – April 20 and Thursday – April 21

7:00AM – 12:00PM

$70.00 per person

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Shorebirds of the Coastal Bend

The Coastal Bend holds an enviable number and variety of shorebirds.  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.  Trip leaders Mel Cooksey and Cameron Cox will guide you through the subtle physical and behavior traits of these birds.  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.

MAXIMUM 20 People Per Day

Thursday – April 21 and Saturday – April 23

7:00AM – 12:00PM

$70.00 per person

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JOE FULTON CORRIDOR
& HILLTOP

NEW

 
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This industrial corridor is not easy to bird for those not familiar with it.  It is mostly refineries on one side and a wonderful saltwater marsh with some open water on the other side.  It is good that expert birder Clay Taylor will be the leader.  By far the best spot for our number one target species, the Seaside Sparrow.  There will be lots of shorebirds, waders, gulls and terns, including the Full-billed Tern.  Roseate Spoonbills are also common.

 

The habitat at nearby Hilltop Community Center could not be more different.  The mile and a quarter wide, paved hiking trail goes thru grassy areas, scrub-thorn brush, and is treed along the creek.  Almost any land bird can be found here including warblers, sparrows, Long-billed Thrashers and much more.

 

 

MAXIMUM 11 People Per Day

Wednesday – April 20 and Sunday – April 24

6:30AM – 11:30AM

$70.00 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.

MAXIMUM 22 People Per Day

Friday – April 22 and Saturday – April 23

6:30AM to 12:30PM

$75.00 per person

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Birding with
David Sibley

NEW

 
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David Allen Sibley is the author and illustrator of the series of successful guides to nature that bear his name, including the New York Times best seller, The Sibley Guide to Birds.  He has contributed art and articles to Smithsonian Science, The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Birding, Birding, Birdwatching, and North American Birds.  He is the 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 Clay Taylor, naturalist Market Manager for Swarovski Optik, who lives right here in Corpus Christi.  He was the first leader in one of our “10 Hour Big Days” that hit the 150 species mark, so he knows the area well.  Based upon the birds seen so far at the Festival, we will go where there are the most birds.

 

 

MAXIMUM 18 People Per Day

Saturday – April 23

7:00AM – 12:00PM

$110 per person

Chasing Warblers and other Migrants!

 
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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 20, Thursday – April 21, Friday – April 22, Sunday – April 24

7:00AM – 12:00PM

$70.00 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 24

7:00AM – 12:00PM

$70.00 per person

 

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U-DRIVE TRIPS

Although Covid is one of the reasons many people would prefer to drive themselves, we have always had requests from people for this option.  It may be that they wanted to bird a nearby spot on the way back or to eat out at a particular restaurant.  This year we are offering four trips that you would meet the leader at the birding spot.  These are all one-stop trips:  park at the harbor and get on a boat, park on a ranch and bird from a hay wagon, or just park and walk while birding.  Please note that this also lowers the cost of the trip by nearly 50%.

 

Skimmer Boat Tour

 
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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.

 

Directions/Maps Will Be Provided

MAXIMUM 30 People both days

Saturday - April 23 Just Added!

Sunday – April 24

8:00AM – 12:00PM

$85.00 per person

HAZEL BAZEMORE PARK

 

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 Spring brings color to this park, providing visitors with a robust sampling of South Texas species, including Green Jays, Kiskadees, White-tipped Dove, Couch’s Kingbird 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 this park stands at 351 species.

 

 Directions/Maps Will Be Provided

MAXIMUM 22 People Per Day

Thursday – April 21

7:30AM – 11:30AM

$35.00 per person

 

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Fennessey Ranch

 
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This ranch is a rich network of meadows, brush, prairie, freshwater wetlands, natural lakes, and riparian woodlands.  The 3,261-acre wildlife oasis is host to numerous types of birds, plants, amphibians, reptiles, insects, and mammals.  The ranch is designed to be an environmentally friendly business that profits from traditional livestock ranching, as well as oil and gas drilling, wildlife tours, hunting leases, and photography trips.

 

Fennessey Ranch in in the heart of the Central Flyway and provides world class birding opportunities.  More than 420 species of resident and migratory birds have been recorded on the ranch, including Painted Buntings, Green Jays, Swallow-tailed Kites, White-tailed Hawks and Bald Eagles, just to name a few.  The ranch has several custom-built birding and photography blinds.  Each blind is strategically placed in areas of high bird activity and generally near water sources.

 

Directions/Maps Will Be Provided

 

MAXIMUM 40 People Per Day

Friday – April 22

7:30AM – 11:30AM

$55.00 per person

 

Pollywog Pond

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This field trip boasts lush vegetation and marshy areas that consistently hold a remarkable variety of birds in any season.  Least Grebes are here year-round.  Green Kingfishers are known residents.  Watch for unusual strays here, such as Masked Duck and Piratic Flycatcher.  According to eBird 325 species have been found at Pollywog.

 

Directions/Maps Will Be Provided 

MAXIMUM 22 People Per Day

Saturday – April 23

7:30AM – 11:30AM

$35.00 per person

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