Texas 2020: Corpus Christi Fall Raptor Migration

October 01 - 05, 2020
Tour Length: 5 days Est. Spaces Left: Available

TOUR OVERVIEW

Extensions:
No Tour Extensions Listed.
Future Departures:
October 01, 2021
Tour Leaders:
Max # Birders:
12 + two leaders
Focus:
Birding; Photography;
Pace:
Easy ;
Double Accommodation:
$ 1000
[per person]
Single Supplement:
+ $ 200
Deposit:
$350 [per person]

 

Tour is joint offering from High Lonesome BirdTours & Rockjumper BirdTours

Hazel Bazemore, a small park at a bend along the Nueces River to the northwest of Corpus Christi, Texas, is the site of the largest concentration of migrating raptors in the United States or Canada each fall. With an average of three-quarters of a million raptors recorded each season, this site hosts the biggest numbers of hawks, falcons, and vultures in the United States, far exceeding other locations. In addition, since 30 species of diurnal raptors have been recorded at Hazel Bazemore over the years, this site can also be called the most diverse. These numbers are dominated by massive kettles of Broad-winged Hawks that literally soar by the hundreds of thousands in the Big Texas Sky. Single-day counts of more than 100,000 are not uncommon. Turkey Vultures and Mississippi Kites occur in the tens of thousands, while Swainson’s, Red-tailed, Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, American Kestrels, Merlins, Black Vultures, Peregrine Falcons, Western Ospreys, and Northern Harriers number in the low thousands to hundreds. It is one of the best places to see the elegant Swallow-tailed Kite migrating in good numbers. Species of raptors that are recorded regularly in low numbers include White-tailed, Zone-tailed, Red-shouldered, Ferruginous, Short-tailed and Harris’s Hawks, Northern Crested Caracara, Bald and Golden Eagles, Prairie Falcon, Aplomado Falcon and White-tailed Kite. Several of these latter species are resident in south Texas and we are sure to find them during excursions to nearby Highway 285 (aka Hawk Alley) or coastal wildlife refuges. It is not just raptors that are on the move and we can expect a wide variety of shorebird and songbird migrants too. In fact, more than 300 species of birds have been recorded in the 77-acre Hazel Bazemore park alone. Some of the South Texas specialties that are resident here and easily seen include Green Jays, Great Kiskadees, Couch’s Kingbirds, Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, while Green and Ringed Kingfishers, and Groove-billed Anis are less common. Among the raptors we will also note migrating Wood Storks, Anhingas, herons, egrets and ibis. A platform offers great views across the wide expanses of the Texas coastal plains and ancient live oaks offer welcome shade. Excursions to coastal wetlands, beaches, woodlots that are hotspots for migrating passerines will add a lot of bird diversity to the tour.

Day 1:  Arrival in Corpus Christi and transfer to hotel some birding at local hotspots
Day 2:  Hazel Bazemore Park Hawk Watch Site and excursion to Hawk Alley
Day 3:  Mustang Island and Padre Island for Aplomado Falcon and other resident raptors
Day 4:  Hazel Bazemore Park Hawk Watch Site and nearby coastal migration hotspots
Day 5:  Final morning birding at Hazel Bazemore Park and Corpus Christi Area, transfer

This tour is designed to be a relaxed pace adventure with the opportunity to see an incredible diversity of resident and migrant species in a relatively small area with a focus on studying migrating raptors and South Texas specialties. We will have plenty of time to enjoy and study each species, including excellent chances to closely observe raptors, shorebirds, and more. We will also focus on seeing all of the available South Texas specialties.

We stay at only one hotel Radisson Hotel Corpus Christi Beach and limit ourselves to shorter drives to nearby birding sites. This accommodation is considered a 3-star hotel right in the heart of the best birding area. The hotel overlooks beautiful Corpus Christi Bay and offers easy access to not only our main birding site, Hazel Bazemore Park, but also other key locations like Port Aransas, Mustang Island, and Padre Island.

Breakfast itself will begin at  06:30 – 07:30, depending on our activities the previous day. We then head off to our preferred birding site for the remainder of the morning, taking a break for a field lunch, usually in a bird rich location. For the remainder of the afternoon, we will complete a short drive to another birding location and finish the day there. Most of our time will be spent at Hazel Bazemore Park where we will have many relaxing and exciting hours watching the raptor migration. Other sites visited are all nearby and with minimal transfer times we can truly enjoy the diversity of birdlife along the Texas coast in the fall. We will take breaks during the hottest part of the day.

This tour has several short drives and one or two longer ones of approx. 1 hour. All transfers are on tarred roads in good to excellent condition. Overall travel times during this tour are minimal with most time spent in relaxed settings to study the diversity of birds.

Before or after the tour the Goose Island State Park, the Texas State Aquarium and USS Lexington Aircraft Carrier Museum can be visited independently.

Tour Facts

Top Birds

Broad-winged Hawk (by the thousands), Harris’s & White-tailed Hawks, Swallow-tailed Kite, Peregrine & Aplomado Falcons, Reddish Egret, Green Jay, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Couch’s Kingbird

 

Top Mammals

Nine-banded Armadillo; Northern Raccoon; White-tailed Deer; Bobcat; Ground Squirrels

 

Habitats Covered

live oak woodland, thornscrub, wetlands, coastal marshes, beaches and jetties, coastal prairie

 

Expected Climate

warm to hot and humid

 

Max Group Size

14 with 1 Rockjumper Leader and local leaders where necessary

Tour Pace & Walking

easy, but some early mornings, shorter walks on easy terrain

 

Accommodation

comfortable, beachside hotel overlooking the beautiful Corpus Christi Bay, also exceptional restaurants in the Corpus Christi and Port Aransas areas with plenty of local seafood and other options

 

Ease of Birding

Easy

 

Number of Species Expected

150+

 

Other Attractions

along the way we enjoy unique Texas coastal scenery, interesting botany, lots of butterflies and visit some of the largest barrier islands in the world. Hazel Bazemore Park’s hawk watch has been dubbed “one of the best raptor migration sites in the world”!

 

Photographic Opportunities

good with great numbers of raptors, warblers, sparrows, shorebirds, and waders

 

MORE TRIP INFORMATION

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    Habitats Covered
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