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Trip to USA - Best Place???

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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 10:56   #1
James
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Question Trip to USA - Best Place???

Here's a question for somebody.

Assuming I can make only one (two week) trip to the good old USA and wanted the biggest American list I could get, where would I go and when?
Could you also predict the list length for a seasoned hardworking birder?

Regards to all.

James.
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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 11:09   #2
Charles Harper
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Southern California/SE Arizona/S. Texas would be an American birder's first all-round choice, I'm sure, May-June. With a stopover in Miami. I won't even guess at a list length, until I have time to sit down with the book. I envy you if you're going!
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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 11:38   #3
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To get the longest list--if that is really your aim--surely you need to plan a couple of stops? I was lucky enough to spend several weeks in N. America so I travelled a fair bit. Northern California was brilliant!
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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 11:44   #4
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James,
Has to be High Island - Gulf Coast in the middle of April. Warblers, Orioles, Cuckoos, waders, gulls, rails - everything you could wish for

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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 12:54   #5
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James

I would go along with Darrell about High island (Texas,if you didn't know) but maybe just for a week, spending the other week going further south-west to the Rio Grande valley and maybe even up to the Big Bend area. That combination might give you 300 species in April-May time, as you would pick up a lot of more northern species on passage, and all the birding is pretty easy with a lot of stake-outs and literature so you do not have to waste much time searching around.

It will be interesting to see what members in the States recommend when they read your message.

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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 13:13   #6
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It all depends on the time of year as to where you want to go and what species you want. April/May are probably the best throughout the U.S.A. since migration would be in full swing, other times may be better for "wanted" species. I agree S. Texas, S. Arizona, California and S. Florida are musts for a great variety. Let us know dates and we can help you with the trip. The "Lanes" guides are great help.
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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 13:17   #7
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Thank you one and all. It looks like a trip next spring is really the thing to do. I will have a look at my bank account!!!

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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 13:20   #8
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Two birders I know in Iceland have just been to Arizona for two weeks (mid-May) and saw over 250 species so I don't think you can go wrong there! I'm sure one of them will be writing a trip report in English soon enough.

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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 15:52   #9
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If you can get a full day in at the Salton Sea which lies south of Palm Springs in California, in April or early May you will see a lot of migrants passing through.

I saw 100 species in 3/4 of a day this past early May.

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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 17:34   #10
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I'm sure that I have a bias here, but Texas would seem to me to be the place to go. Between the Upper Coast (High Island, etc.) area, the coastal bend, the Rio Grande Valley, and the Hill Country (Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-capped Vireo, etc.), a list at or near 300 species is very much possible. The North American Big Day record (258) was set using a route that started in the Hill Country and ended on the central coast. Over a two-week trip, plus the Valley specialty birds, 300 is a real possibility.

If you're ambitious, a day or two at Big Bend National Park will get Colima Warbler and many of the western US migrants, birds that would not get to the other locations (Western warblers and flycatchers, etc.). Factor in mileage, however, as Big Bend is a solid 500 miles from Houston, and the Valley is 350.

The best time of the year would be late April-early May. A tremendous banquet of birds (not literally, of course!) awaits the birder who ventures to Texas during spring migration.

Steve in Houston

P.S. I'd be happy to give more specific information on birding sites, etc. if anyone's interested.
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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 18:07   #11
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Hi James,
I've done four trips to N.America. The first was in May to Point Pelee, into Michigan, heading North, back into Canada, through Algonquin and down to Toronto, 3 weeks 224 Species.

Then Texas in April. High Island along the coast to Brownsville, follow the Rio Grande to Big Bend, head East across Edwards Plateau back to High Island 2 weeks 294 Species.

California and S.E. Arizona in April, If you want the itinerary please get in touch. 3 weeks 303 species.

Florida, Only went after the Florida specialties Everglades, Keys, Tortugas, etc. saw them but not looking for much else.
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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 18:28   #12
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I would agree with Steve Gross, assuming you wanted to stay in one spot for your vacation. South Texas gets both eastern and western birds, so you would get the biggest sampling of North American birds there, particularly during spring and fall migration. In addition, it has a number of birds whose ranges begin in Texas and go south into Mexico and Central America. However, be prepared for mosquitoes and humidity!
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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 20:15   #13
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I'll have to go with south Texas. Last week of April and first week of May. Steveinliecs itinerary sound like a beauty. Now I want to go too!!

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Old Wednesday 25th June 2003, 20:51   #14
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I did the trip Steveinleics suggests minus Big Bend but including the Edwards Plateau. Mind blowing is not too strong a phrase. I want to go again too ...!!

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Old Thursday 26th June 2003, 04:39   #15
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There's no doubt that south Texas would be marvelous! I wanna go, too!!

But there are other marvelous places, some very seasonal, that truly are hotspots.

And not that I've visited them, but jeez -- I read a lot, and I can dream, can't I?

Cape May, NJ -- one of the great grand-daddy of hotspots on the continent. Warblers, raptors, shorebirds, waterfowl. Spring and fall migration. Atlantic shore and the Delaware Bay (and just 2 hours from Atlantic City if you're a gambler).

Hawk Mountain, PA -- the mega-grand-daddy of hawk watches, the very first. Incredible raptor watching from September through November. (OK, I've been here -- and getting there, you can claim to have been on the Appalachian Trail, which traverves the same ridgeline.)

Both of these places are easily reached from Philadelphia.

Crane Creek SP, Ottawa NWR, and Magee Marsh, all in NW Ohio. Good any time of year for a variety of things, but MAY is prime time warblering. Crane Creek and Magee (which surrounds Crane Creek, the SP is right on the Lake Erie shoreline) is where the warblers stop and fuel up for that 'pelagic' trip to Point Pelee. The boardwalk through the wet woods at CC is generally butt-to-belly with birders in May, and for good reason. A stop here on a day trip several years ago gave me 26 lifers in about 2 1/2 hours.

All this area was formerly the Great Black Swamp -- all drained and flat (and pretty unattractive) now, but the birds still come where the wetlands are being preserved.

AND, there's Cedar Point. If you're into amusement parks, need I say more?

Easily reached from Toledo, Detroit or Cleveland.

Salton Sea -- don't miss it.

Easily reached from San Diego -- and San Diego County has been called the 'birdiest' county on the continent.

And if you go here, for god's sake, take the time and spend the money to go to the Wild Animal Park in Escondido. It'll blow your hair right back!

Quivara Grasslands in Kansas if you're into plains species.

The South Platte River in Kansas in March, for Sandhill and Whooping Cranes and waterfowl.

Reach these places from Kansas City.

Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico. Wintering grounds for cranes, geese and ducks. Go in November.

This is south of Albuquerque.

The Everglades are legendary, of course.

And in Florida, also check out the Gulf Coast for Corkscrew Swamp and Sanibel Island (Ding Darling NWR). The Space Coast, on the east, has all the NASA stuff you could ever want, plus Merritt Island NWR, near Canaveral. My brother-in-law STILL gets the blithers talking about how wonderful this place is.

There's wonderful places in every state in the union -- no matter where you go, there will be great stuff to see. I guess it all depends on how MUCH you want to see.
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Old Thursday 26th June 2003, 05:31   #16
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The birds that you really, really want to see would make a difference as
to where you would go, as well. If Snail Kite is at the top of your must-see list,
then I suppose you'll have to go to south Florida.

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Old Thursday 26th June 2003, 07:42   #17
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Wow - such great help, a trip if definitely coming on next April/May. I will post the list when I get back. Thank you all for your help. Texas looks favorite at the moment!

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Old Thursday 26th June 2003, 13:12   #18
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If you've got two weeks and you're a serious birder (you said!), you can do more than just Texas, James. Whatever you do, go cross-country, eh?, for maximum species, not north-south! And if you can arrange to fly via Miami, a day there (you're renting a car, I presume?) is worth a week anywhere else-- the Everglades are real close and real fecund.
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Old Saturday 28th June 2003, 02:25   #19
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James, the state of Texas' Parks and Wildlife department has a web site that's full of information about birding, especially in South Texas. Here's the url for the site and newsletter about birding. Hope this helps.
(If the link doesn't take you to the site, you might have to cut and paste it into your browser.)
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/news/news/030512d.htm
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Old Saturday 28th June 2003, 10:46   #20
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Hi James - I may be just a little prejudiced since I live in Texas, but I think you would love the Spring Migration birds you would see in and around Corpus Christi in April. I have joined some birders that met on another birding forum for the last 2 years and this last April we had just under 200 species identified. We took a one day side trip to the Rio Grande Valley, but mostly birded around Corpus. One lady from Canada got over 100 lifers and many got over 50. Of course these were the ones from Canada, New York, Georgia and some of the other states farther away from Texas. If you have 2 weeks, you could even have time to go to the Big Bend area. If you would like, I can round up some of the links for the Corpus Christi area. Have fun planning your trip. The US has some really awesome birding possibilities.
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Old Tuesday 1st July 2003, 20:40   #21
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I'd go with Texas, 2 weeks would get you down the Gulf coast, lower Rio Grande Valley Edwards Plateau.
If you could spare 3 you could also fit in Davis Mountains and a couple of days in Big Bend for Colima warbler. April; week 2 onwards probably best although you may be late for Whooping Crane at Aransas, You won't be late for mossies however.
List between 250 and 300 depending on luck I'd say.
However many u see however will be be a great trip.
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Old Wednesday 2nd July 2003, 07:07   #22
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Many thanks one and all, Texas seems to win the vote. Planning (and saving) begin today! Big Bend seems worthy of some research as several people have mentioned it. If I make it (credit card willing) I will post my results in due course.

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Old Saturday 5th July 2003, 17:23   #23
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James,
We went to Big Bend and the Davis Mountains in early April this year. I'm presently working on an illustrated trip report to put on my website, so I'll PM you when its uploaded. We didn't try for the Colima Warbler, as we were a little early, plus it involves a 9 mile roundtrip hike into the high Chisos Mountains, and I was still recovering from major surgery I had in late January. The Park guidelines recommend that you need to carry a gallon of water per person on day long hikes in Big Bend. Even on the short hikes we did, you certainly needed water! No problem with mossies tho!
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