The upper Texas coast provides an unrivaled birding spectacle in the spring as millions of migrants stream north on their way to their breeding rounds. Southern species are already setting up territories and the inland forests are ringing with songs. The coast can be alive with up to 30 species of warblers and it is not uncommon to record more than 30 species of shorebirds alone. Famous migrant traps like High Island, Sabine Woods, and LaFitte’s Cove concentrate vireos, thrushes, tanagers, grosbeaks, and of course the jewels of Neotropical migrants, warblers. This trip coincides with the peak of spring migration and will take advantage of the best time of year to witness this miracle of nature. Three full days birding migrant hotspots on the coast should net us a wide variety of songbirds and shorebirds, plus one full day exploring the Big Thicket regions will add southern breeders and pine woods specialties.
Of course no visit to Texas would be complete without seeing the Golden-cheeked Warbler, an endemic nesting bird, and endangered Black-capped Vireo. The trip will head west for two days to explore the riches of the Hill Country where, in addition to the two star birds, we will see a suite of birds different from the coast. In order to complete the loop through Texas’ richest birding habitats we will pass through Kingsville to locate several Rio Grande valley specialties, most notably Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Tropical Parula, and Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, plus Green Jay, Audubon’s Oriole, and more. A short visit to the Rockport area will add many migrants and shorebirds.
We’ve extended the tour by a night to allow us more time on the Edwards Plateau and High Island. We’ll be arriving and departing from Houston International Airport. The pace of the trip is moderate with a few shorter walks (two to three longer drives). A few early morning starts are required especially for the Hill Country portion of the trip. Temperatures will range from mild to warm. Photographic opportunities are outstanding. We can also expect to see some other iconic Texas animals like American alligators, bobcats, and armadillos. We can expect to record around 275 species.
Photo: Golden-cheeked Warbler, by Stephan Lorenz