In order to find the star attractions of this region, we will comb through old growth juniper woodland for the stunning Golden-cheeked Warbler (a breeding endemic) and carefully check stands of scrub oaks for the furtive Black-capped Vireo (near-endemic). Other habitats that are easily accessible from our lodge near Concan, just west of San Antonio, include riparian forest, scenic limestone plateaus and canyons, wetlands, grasslands, and semi-desert. This tour visits the prime spots in the Hill Country, including Lost Maples State Natural Area, Kerr Wildlife Management Area, Concan, and Chalk Bluff Park. Spring is not only ideal for breeding species, which will be in full song, but we can also expect great numbers of migrants with many species of warblers, sparrows, thrushes, grosbeaks, and buntings filtering through the woodlands and riparian oases. An evening excursion to the Rio Frio Bat Cave will mark another highlight of the tour and we will witness the nightly exodus of millions of Brazilian Free-tailed Bats streaming from the small cave opening. This is the second largest colony of bats in the world and the great numbers of bats attract up to seven species of raptors. Lets not forget the spectacular displays of wildflowers common in the Hill Country to round out a perfect tour.
Day 1 Arrival in San Antonio and transfer to Uvalde, Concan with birding stops
Day 2 Lost Maples State Natural Area and Garner State Park
Day 3 Kerr Wildlife Management Area and Neil’s Lodge Area
Day 4 Chalk Bluff Park and Kickapoo Cavern State Park
Day 5 Final morning birding in the lodge area and transfer to San Antonio
This tour is designed to be relaxed pace with the opportunity to see an incredible diversity of resident and migrant species in a relatively small area. We will have plenty of time to enjoy and study each species, including excellent chances to closely observe warblers, sparrows, orioles, and raptors. We will also focus on seeing all of the Hill Country specialties.
We stay at only one hotel (Holiday Inn Express & Suites Uvalde), and limit ourselves to shorter drives to nearby birding sites. This accommodation is considered a comfortable hotel centrally located to the best birding areas. We will eat meals at the hotel or nearby restaurants that offer fine local cuisines ranging from traditional BBQ to excellent American food. The breakfasts here are also plentiful and delicious.
Each day begins with an early, optional pre-breakfast birding. Breakfast itself will begin at 07:00 – 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. We will have an early dinner in town. One evening, we will visit the Rio Frio Bat Cave located a 15-minute drive from the accommodations and this will be after dinner with a return time to the lodge at about 8:00 pm. Overall, we will spend most of the day in the field.
This tour has several short drives and a few longer ones of approx. 2 hours. The longer and shorter drives are on tarred roads in good to excellent condition. The day we explore the Kickapoo Cavern State Park region, we have a longer drive of approx. 3 hours roundtrip, but we will break up the journey with many birding stops.