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. . . . . 2017 TOUR SCHEDULE . . . . .



WINTER BIRDS of SOUTH TEXAS

WHOOPING CRANES & the RIO GRANDE VALLEY
20 January 2017 - 25 January 2017, 6 days & 5 nights

A boat ride on Aransas Bay will play a key roll in this tour. It is our ticket to the magnificent, rare and endangered Whooping Crane, whose population is growing annually. We'll see a wealth of additional aquatic species such as Eared Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Roseate Spoonbill, and perhaps an American Bittern. Santa Ana is reliable for Ringed and Green Kingfishers, while Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and Estero Llano Grande State Park are known for their Mexican rarities and wintering songbirds, such as Clay-colored Thrush, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, and Tropical Parula. One year we found a Roadside Hawk at Bentsen, which at that time was the fourth ABA record! Another tour produced Green-breasted Mango and Blue Bunting. We'll travel to South Padre Island and visit the Convention Center wetlands and mudflats. Piping Plover, Marbled Godwit, American Avocet, Common Loon, and Sora and Clapper Rail are likely to be found.  There will be many additional shorebird and tern species to sort through and compare. We will search for Aplomado Falcon on the nearby mainland. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled tour leader. 

Price: $1895.00 from Corpus Christi, Texas    

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SOUTH TEXAS, the LOWER RIO GRANDE VALLEY, and the extreme SOUTH TEXAS GULF COAST

with a good chance for FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL
10 February 2017 - 19 February 2017, 10 days & 9 nights

We'll see a wealth of aquatic species along the extreme southern Gulf Coast. These may include Snowy and Piping Plovers, Roseate Spoonbill, and perhaps a Northern Gannet and Sandwich Tern. Our visit to the King Ranch will hopefully yield a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, along with fine looks at White-tailed Hawk, Harris's Hawk, Burrowing Owl, Sprague's Pipit, Olive Sparrow, and a host of other scrub-thorn species. Santa Ana is reliable for Ringed and Green Kingfishers, while Bentsen - Rio Grande Valley State Park, Estero Llano Grande State Park, and Anzalduas County Park are known for their Mexican rarities and wintering songbirds, such as Clay-colored Thrush, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, and Tropical Parula. One year we found a Roadside Hawk at Bentsen, which at that time was the fourth ABA record! Another previous tour produced Green-breasted Mango and Blue Bunting. And recently we found a Crimson-collared Grosbeak. Great birds! We'll travel as far upriver as San Ygnacio in search of Audubon's and Altamira Orioles, Hook-billed Kite, and White-collared Seedeater. This tour focuses on the Lower Rio Grande Valley, from the Gulf Coast to San Ignacio. The tour is limited to 8 participants. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled leader. 

Price: $2695.00 from Harlingen, Texas    

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SOUTH TEXAS HAWK MIGRATION

Raptors, Songbirds & Specialties of the Lower Rio Grande Valley
23 March 2017 - 30 March 2017, 8 days & 7 nights

Some of the finest spring hawk migration in North America occurs in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, as raptors move north out of Central America and Mexico.  We will spend eight days in the Valley, dividing our time between the well-established hawk watches at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park.  Additional birders and volunteers will be present as we all work together to identify most of the birds that pass by, not just birds of prey.  We are likely to see good numbers of raptors on a daily basis, including kettles of Broad-winged Hawks and Mississippi Kites.  A nice variety of hawks will move through in smaller numbers, with hopefully a rarity or two.  When we are not hawk watching, we will search for many of the other Valley specialties at some of the best birding locales in South Texas. We ran this tour very successfully in the same time period of 2011. The maximum number of tour participants is eight. Bob Schutsky is the scheduled leader. 

Price: $1995.00 from McAllen, Texas    

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TEXAS HILL COUNTRY on the EDWARDS PLATEAU

Home of two VERY RARE SONGBIRDS!
26 April 2017 - 30 April 2017, 5 days & 4 nights

Two songbirds make this trip an exceedingly exciting adventure: Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. Both can be found at Lost Maples State Park and Kerr Wildlife Management Area, along with Green Kingfisher and the scenic beauty that this area has to offer. Then we include four nights at Neal's/Buchanan Lodges, where we have previously watched nesting Black-capped Vireos through our spotting scope and from our porch! One of our evenings will be occupied with a visit to the Frio Bat Cave, a nursery roost for 10-12 million Mexican Freetail Bats. They put on quite a late day show. Add a few Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Canyon Wrens, Zone-tailed Hawks, Dickcissels, and a Painted Bunting or two, all in beautiful habitats and full breeding plumage, and we have an incredible five days on the Edwards Plateau, with lots of birding and very little driving. The scheduled tour leader is Bob Schutsky. Please inquire about a $200 discount for combining the Texas Hill Country with the Big Bend Tour that follows immediately (see separate Big bend itinerary). The Texas Hill Tour is limited to eight participants, as is the Big Bend Tour. 

Price: $1995.00 from San Antonio    

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BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, TEXAS

The ONLY place in the United States to see COLIMA WARBLER!
30 April 2017 - 8 May 2017, 9 days & 8 nights

Big Bend is the only location in the United States where Colima Warbler can be found. We'll be there at prime time to make the hike into the Chisos Mountains to search for this rare and local species. Also in Big Bend we are likely to see Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Elf Owl, Gray Hawk, Crissal Thrasher, Hooded Oriole, and Varied Bunting. Places that we'll visit within Big Bend include Rio Grande Village, Hot Springs, Panther Junction, Sam Nail Ranch, and of course Boot Spring for the Colima Warbler and lots of additional great birding. The Davis Mountains may yield Montezuma Quail, Common Black-Hawk, Common Poorwill, and many other nice birds. The drive to Alpine is almost certain to produce Pronghorns. The El Paso region has desert scrub birds including Greater Roadrunner, Verdin, and Burrowing Owl, while Lake Balmorhea adds shorebirds, waterfowl, and long-legged waders to the list. Bobcat, Javelina, Armadillo, and Blacktail Jackrabbits can all be reasonably expected, and even a Mountain Lion is well within the realm of possibility. One year we found fresh tracks! The scheduled tour leader is Bob Schutsky. There is a $200 discount if you combine this tour with the Texas Hill Country Tour that immediately precedes it.  Both tours are limited to eight participants.

Price: $3175.00 from El Paso, Texas    

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