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Old Sunday 19th March 2017, 15:59   #1
M Collard
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Birding in Texas

Hi,

My wife and I are planning a trip in April/ May are I seek your help;

1) Which is the best book to giving sites and appropriate maps/ directions?

2) Plan would be to do North of Jasper, Baytown, Rockport and Brownsville areas; I am not sure if we have the time to fit in Concon areas; i have take these areas from the various birding trip reports from birding companies, sadly a bit outside our budget; have I picked up the best areas?
3) I have looked at the info on the Whooping Cranes; some says they leave by the end of March but others suggest they stay well into April; do you know which is correct?
3) Any help is much appreciated and if anybody is out birding and would like some company we would welcome it; happy to reciprocate if folks get to the UK

My thanks in advance/ Mike
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Old Thursday 23rd March 2017, 13:04   #2
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Hi Mike,

Just found your post. I'm at work right now, but can post some info some time over the next several days. Check back in a day or two.
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Old Thursday 23rd March 2017, 13:18   #3
Andrew Whitehouse
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1. The ABA 'Birders Guide' series is helpful, both the Texas Coast and the Rio Grande books:
http://www.nhbs.com/title/4277/a-bir...he-texas-coast
http://www.nhbs.com/title/93801/a-bi...-grande-valley
The Gosney guide to South Texas is useful for the Lower Rio Grande:
http://www.nhbs.com/title/180825/fin...in-south-texas

Also in the Rio Grande area, check the rare bird hotline:
http://rgvbirds.blogspot.co.uk/

EBird is incredibly helpful for working out good sites and also for finding out about recent sightings too:
http://ebird.org/ebird/explore

2. By 'Concon' do you mean 'Concan' and the 'Hill Country' areas? That's probably the main omission. It's worth visiting. If you cover the Texas coast, the eastern pinewoods around Jasper, Lower Rio Grande and Hill Country then those are the main areas and you should see a lot of birds at the time of the year. To get additional stuff you'd probably need to head west, which is plausible but will need a bit more time. Big Bend is great, if you can get there.

3. Most Whooping Cranes will have left by April but you might still get some lingering well into the month. I saw a pair at Aransas in mid-April a couple of years ago. Late April might be a stretch. Check Ebird for recent sightings.
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Old Thursday 23rd March 2017, 23:25   #4
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Yeah we visited Aransas on 21st April 2014 and the cranes had all gone......
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Old Monday 27th March 2017, 18:33   #5
PhilR.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M Collard View Post
Hi,

My wife and I are planning a trip in April/ May are I seek your help;

1) Which is the best book to giving sites and appropriate maps/ directions?

2) Plan would be to do North of Jasper, Baytown, Rockport and Brownsville areas; I am not sure if we have the time to fit in Concon areas; i have take these areas from the various birding trip reports from birding companies, sadly a bit outside our budget; have I picked up the best areas?
3) I have looked at the info on the Whooping Cranes; some says they leave by the end of March but others suggest they stay well into April; do you know which is correct?
3) Any help is much appreciated and if anybody is out birding and would like some company we would welcome it; happy to reciprocate if folks get to the UK

My thanks in advance/ Mike
#1) Agree w/the above.

#2). In April, I would stay closer to the coast. High Island, Sabine Woods, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge are just a few places in E. TX that are excellent birding hotspots in April, and sometimes into May. Personally, I doubt that I would go north of Jasper. Look at the Texas Ornithlogical Society and the Houston Audubon Society websites for more information on these and other great birding sites. In the central coastal area you have Rockport/Aransas Pass/Port Aransas areas. You can also find good birding areas on their websites too.

For south TX, there are a great number of places, all outlined in the book suggested above. But please keep in mind that by May, it gets *very* warm in S. TX. In fact, that area has already had temps above 90 degrees this year, and today's high temp in the Donna/Edinburgh area will be around 91 or so. This means that by May, it will be above 90 degrees every day, unless there just happens to be a storm over you. If you are not used to 90+ degree days, you might do S. TX (aka "The Valley", as in Rio Grande Valley) in April. This unfortunately takes you away from the excellent upper coastal sites that are best seen in April. Too bad you can't be in two places at once! At any rate, definitely hit up the state parks and NWR's along the border.

Concan is a beautiful area, but you won't see the diversity of birds in "The Hill Country" as you will see along the coast and The Valley.

#3) Both are correct. It just depends. Each year is different. This past winter has been much warmer than average, so I have to wonder if that won't affect migration. At any rate, I can tell you the Whoopers were there last month

Some additional info: Sea Rim State Park has a cabin you can rent. You would be close to the beach, and the TOS site called Sabine Woods. The state park system has a website.

There is a small and extremely basic hotel in High Island, and is within walking distance to the main birding site called Boy Scout Woods. The people are friendly, but it's not much to look at. But it will put you right in the middle of some great places to go to. But for April and May, you have to book early. If you can't get a room there, the small town of Winnie has hotels, and is about 15 miles away.

Port Aransas has many hotels, but as it is a small resort town, the prices can get rather high, especially after school lets out for the summer. You might look for a VRBO place there.

For the Valley, there are several hotels/lodges that cater to birders. They have websites. Friendly people, and great sources of birding info.
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Old Saturday 1st April 2017, 03:09   #6
HelenB
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If you'd like to see what some of our State Parks and National Wildlfie Refuges look like and what birds, features and facilities they have, plus directions, please check out the Opus section in Birdforum. Here are some birding location pages that I have worked on over the last few years:

This page lists all locations in Texas that have Opus pages:
http://www.birdforum.net/opus/Texas

Here are a couple of individual birding hotspots:
http://www.birdforum.net/opus/Aransa...ildlife_Refuge

http://www.birdforum.net/opus/High_Island

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Old Monday 3rd April 2017, 21:48   #7
M Collard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilR. View Post
#1) Agree w/the above.

#2). In April, I would stay closer to the coast. High Island, Sabine Woods, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge are just a few places in E. TX that are excellent birding hotspots in April, and sometimes into May. Personally, I doubt that I would go north of Jasper. Look at the Texas Ornithlogical Society and the Houston Audubon Society websites for more information on these and other great birding sites. In the central coastal area you have Rockport/Aransas Pass/Port Aransas areas. You can also find good birding areas on their websites too.

For south TX, there are a great number of places, all outlined in the book suggested above. But please keep in mind that by May, it gets *very* warm in S. TX. In fact, that area has already had temps above 90 degrees this year, and today's high temp in the Donna/Edinburgh area will be around 91 or so. This means that by May, it will be above 90 degrees every day, unless there just happens to be a storm over you. If you are not used to 90+ degree days, you might do S. TX (aka "The Valley", as in Rio Grande Valley) in April. This unfortunately takes you away from the excellent upper coastal sites that are best seen in April. Too bad you can't be in two places at once! At any rate, definitely hit up the state parks and NWR's along the border.

Concan is a beautiful area, but you won't see the diversity of birds in "The Hill Country" as you will see along the coast and The Valley.

#3) Both are correct. It just depends. Each year is different. This past winter has been much warmer than average, so I have to wonder if that won't affect migration. At any rate, I can tell you the Whoopers were there last month

Some additional info: Sea Rim State Park has a cabin you can rent. You would be close to the beach, and the TOS site called Sabine Woods. The state park system has a website.

There is a small and extremely basic hotel in High Island, and is within walking distance to the main birding site called Boy Scout Woods. The people are friendly, but it's not much to look at. But it will put you right in the middle of some great places to go to. But for April and May, you have to book early. If you can't get a room there, the small town of Winnie has hotels, and is about 15 miles away.

Port Aransas has many hotels, but as it is a small resort town, the prices can get rather high, especially after school lets out for the summer. You might look for a VRBO place there.

For the Valley, there are several hotels/lodges that cater to birders. They have websites. Friendly people, and great sources of birding info.
Dear Phil,

My apologies for the lateness as have been off pc for a few days; in the end we decided we were rushing the trip as we have done before; I managed to get the suggested books but just ran out of time.

We are now planning properly for next April and will include Rio Grande and the Hill Country

This is superb information and I really appreciate your efforts with this

One final thing; I study Badgers in the UK; do you know anybody who might help me see an American Badger?

My thanks again

Sincerely/ Mike
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Old Wednesday 5th April 2017, 03:12   #8
PhilR.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M Collard View Post
Dear Phil,

My apologies for the lateness as have been off pc for a few days; in the end we decided we were rushing the trip as we have done before; I managed to get the suggested books but just ran out of time.

We are now planning properly for next April and will include Rio Grande and the Hill Country

This is superb information and I really appreciate your efforts with this

One final thing; I study Badgers in the UK; do you know anybody who might help me see an American Badger?

My thanks again

Sincerely/ Mike
Hello Mike,

I don't know of anyone who can help guide you to see a badger. They are not common at all in E. TX or at the places one would go birding. I have run into them in the desolate oil-fields of west TX, but a tourist should not ever plan to go out there.

I can tell you that you can see them hunting prairie dogs at the little prairie dog town at the Valles Crater National Park headquarters in northern New Mexico (which isn't new, nor is it Mexico).

Just to let you know, in case you do not like temperatures close to 100 degrees -- some places in S. TX are already hitting in the upper 90's. If you are planning on birding The Valley, you might consider early April rather than later. Mid and late April should still be good for the mid and upper TX coast.
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Old Wednesday 5th April 2017, 12:52   #9
Jason Coppock
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Thank you for all of the superb info,we are arriving in Texas tomorrow from the U.K and are hoping to fit in as much as we can, including the Hill Country,Could anyone recommend a good site for Black-capped Vireo?
If you have any suggestions It would be greatly appreciated and I can be contacted privately at jasoncppk@yahoo.co.uk

Many Thanks
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Old Wednesday 5th April 2017, 13:11   #10
Andrew Whitehouse
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Coppock View Post
Thank you for all of the superb info,we are arriving in Texas tomorrow from the U.K and are hoping to fit in as much as we can, including the Hill Country,Could anyone recommend a good site for Black-capped Vireo?
If you have any suggestions It would be greatly appreciated and I can be contacted privately at jasoncppk@yahoo.co.uk

Many Thanks
There are potentially lots of sites for the vireo but I'd recommend South Llano State Park in Junction. They're pretty common and easy there.
http://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L283468
There are sites nearer to Austin and San Antonio but if you're still struggling South Llano is a good fail-safe. It's very good for birds more generally too.
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Old Wednesday 5th April 2017, 19:03   #11
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Many thanks Andrew much appreciated.
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