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A Report from

Texas - 9th to 24th April 1999,

keith Shepherd

Friday 9th April

Gatwick - Houston
Houston - La Porte

Our group of 20 touched down in Houston early in the afternoon after a superb flight with Continental Airlines from Gatwick.

This was a first visit to the United States for many of us. It could easily have been Gatwick rather than Houston, as the first birds seen were Feral Pigeon, European Starling and House Sparrow, although the heat for early April was definitely not the UK!

After waiting some time to get the courier bus to our car hire depot, the atmosphere soon became more American. After adding Barn Swallow, more unfamiliar species were suddenly being encountered amongst one or two more regularly seen European species; Killdeer, American Crow, Great White Egret, Turkey Vulture , Yellow-crowned Night Heron and Cattle Egret all being seen en-route.

Whilst waiting for the min-vans which would be our mode of transport for the next two weeks, we added Loggerhead Shrike and Northern Mockingbird.

The rest of the day was a fairly torrid affair with us trying to locate our first motel, but several other species were identified; Anhinga, Great-tailed Grackle (definitely the commonest bird throughout our trip), American Coot , Mourning Dove, Red-tailed Hawk and Laughing Gull. We wandered out for an evening meal and added Common Grackle, Purple Martin and a flyover party of White Ibis.

So ended our first day in Texas, and we were all already exhausted!

Overnight                : Best Western, La Porte

Saturday 10th April

Galveston Ferry
Boy Scout Woods, High Island
Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
Bolivar Flats

Our first full day in the States, so we decided to make the most of it!

The first problem we encountered was that one of the mini-vans would not start, so we decided to squeeze into the other three whilst getting the other one fixed. 20 people into three 7 seater’s is not too bad, however, and it had been planned to do this occasionally during the trip to save on fuel.

So we headed to Galveston adding Pied-billed Grebe en-route.

Whilst waiting to get onto the ferry a host of new species were seen; Great Blue Heron, Caspian Tern, Roseate Spoonbill, Herring Gull, Brown Pelican, Olivaceous Cormorant, Royal Tern, American Avocet, Ringed Turtle-Dove and Black-crowned Night Heron. We just didn’t know which way to look first.

And then on the ferry crossing to Port Bolivar we added yet more species; Forster's, Sandwich and Least Tern, Red-breasted Merganser, Black Skimmer, American White Pelican, Slavonian Grebe, Snowy Egret and Ruddy Turnstone.

During the crossing, which only took twenty minutes or so, we chatted to other birders from the UK and US who gave us some useful information on the best sites and birds about.

Several more species were identified on the otherwise uninteresting 45 minute drive to High Island; Black-necked Stilt, Blue-winged Teal, Little Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher and White-faced Ibis. The landscape was flat and rather boring with many nodding donkeys (also known locally as oil wells) being seen.

Boy Scout Woods car park was not very busy, a sign that a major fall had not occurred - and it turned out there hadn’t been one all spring!

Despite this, we knew that many new species could be expected, and we were not to be disappointed, adding Inca Dove, Red Cardinal and Carolina Wren before we even reached the main gates. By the main pool, after we had paid our $5 entry fee, we also saw Louisiana Waterthrush, Brown Thrasher and Grey Catbird. Several of the party got brief views of a Northern Parula at ‘The Cathedral' before great excitement ensued when we all latched onto a splendid Blue Jay, much to the amusement of the local birders!

A number of other species were added during our walk around the woodland and scrub, and these included; Great Crested Flycatcher, no less than three Black-shouldered Kite, Orchard Oriole, Eastern Kingbird, Summer Tanager, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow and Striated Heron.

After leaving Boy Scout Woods we headed towards Anahuac, unsuccessfully looking for a lunch stop en-route, but we were rewarded by adding yet more new species; Red-winged Blackbird and Common Ground Dove, whilst all thought of hunger disappeared as we found one of our target species, with a pair of stunning Scissor-tailed Flycatcher’s, causing emergency stops galore! If only we had known just how common they were going to be!

We decided to have a quick look around Anahuac before finding something to eat, making do with the Hershey bars and free lemonade provided at the reserve centre (even if it was only a small portakabin).

Over two hours later we left, the elongated stay being caused primarily by the wide range of species we encountered, some of them at remarkably close range; Tree Swallow, Sora, Common Yellowthroat, Long-billed Dowitcher, Spotted, Western, Least and Pectoral Sandpipers, Common Snipe, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Tri-coloured Heron, Common Moorhen, Northern Shoveler, American Purple Gallinule, Least and American Bittern, Boat-tailed Grackle, Marsh Harrier (known as Northern Harrier in the States), Hudsonian and Marbled Godwit, Green-winged Teal, Dunlin and Wilson’s Phalarope .

In addition to this wonderful array of birds we also saw numerous American Alligators, some of which were more than 8 feet long!

By now it was mid-afternoon and most of us were getting very hungry, so we headed back towards Port Bolivar, eventually finding a diner where we devoured the long overdue meal, and also saw a Red-shouldered Hawk perched on a pylon on the other side of the road.

We still had time for a quick look at Bolivar Flats, and when we got there, the sheer number of birds would have taken us a full day to fully appreciate, but we only had an hour of daylight left. Even so, we added more new species for the trip here; Willet, Reddish Egret, Sanderling, Lesser Scaup, Ring-billed Gull, Shore Lark, Grey, Semi-palmated, Wilson’s and Piping Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Long-billed Curlew and Common Tern.

By 7pm we were back at the ferry terminal, but in a queue that took some two hours to reach the front of, and we eventually got back to our motel at 10.30pm, totally exhausted, only to find out that the mini-van had not been fixed, but this was eventually sorted out by 01.30am.

A very long, tiring and physically draining day, the weather being fairly hot throughout; it had been a far too long day for most of the group, but we had certainly made the most of it.

Overnight                : Best Western, La Porte

Sunday 11th April

Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge
Lake Texana State Park

After another false start; the mini-van needed a jump start, and we couldn’t leave it today; we headed to Brazoria, some 100 miles or so along the Gulf Coast.

Just before we arrived, a party of Black Vulture’s was disturbed from a roadside kill they were obviously enjoying.

Then, on the long drive to the reserve car park, we stopped several times to delight at better views of species we had already seen , and also to add more birds; Savannah Sparrow, Bobwhite Quail and Eastern Meadowlark, plus a flock of Brown-headed Cowbird’s by the reserve car park.

We took a stroll along the boardwalk adding a distant Carolina Chickadee, and flyover Crested Caracara and Wood Stork, together with an elusive Marsh Wren, and also a Racoon; whilst the woodland walk provided little apart from the hordes of extremely hungry mosquitoes!

The drive around the reserve added yet more species; Gadwall, Short-eared Owl (by only one of the vehicles), and Semi-palmated Sandpiper, just one of the waders that we had excellent views at extremely close range.

Our final destination for the day was our motel in Victoria, but we decided to take an unscheduled detour to Lake Texana State Park which proved to be very successful. Our walk along the park roads provided close views of Tufted Titmouse, an early evening Common Nighthawk, plus Black-bellied Whistling Duck and Red-bellied Woodpecker, all in a very pleasant lakeside setting.

We finally arrived at our motel, but at a much more civilised hour than the previous day, despite the lead vehicle missing the turn off!

Overnight                : Holiday Inn, Victoria

Monday 12th April

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Lake Texana State Park

Today we were heading to the world famous Aransas, winter home of the rare Whooping Crane, but we had no idea if they had all left by now.

A brief stop to stock up for lunch added Chimney Swift, a bird most of the group had already seen earlier in the trip, and a distant view of an Upland Sandpiper for a few. All other species en-route had been seen previously.

Arriving at Aransas we were advised at the centre that the last of the crane’s were still present, but to stock up on mosquito repellent! So we first headed to the observation tower where, about a mile away could be seen three Whooping Crane’s, although many other species of egret, heron and wader could be seen much easier, as well as a pair of Black Duck and also Double-crested Cormorant.

At this stage the warning about mosquitoes appeared unwarranted, but after a drive round the rest of the reserve, which was quiet for birds, and stopping for a lunch, we decided to walk around the ‘Rail Trail’, but so did the six coach loads of schoolchildren present so we saw very little, but were bitten quite nicely, for our troubles!

The few birds we did see included Bank Swallow and Solitary Vireo, and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird for just one of the group.

Aransas having been a little disappointing, three of the min-vans decided to head back to Victoria via Lake Texana again, and just before arriving there we added American Golden Plover in the paddy fields nearby.

The park itself provided similar species to the day before, although the day’s highlight for most was when we found a roosting Barred Owl, and this was a fitting end to the day.

Overnight                : Holiday Inn, Victoria

Tuesday 13th April

Laguna Atascosa

Today we were making the long journey south to the Rio Grande where we would be spending the next three days. The countryside gradually, but perceptibly changed along Route 77, becoming more scrub like, rather than the larger vegetation from whence we came.

Raptors became much more evident, with larger numbers of Crested Caracara and Red-tailed Hawk seen, plus our first Harris Hawk.

We made good progress, so decided to make our way for an afternoon visit to Laguna Atascosa on the coast close to the Mexican border. Immediately we arrived a noticeably more tropical feel became apparent, and not just from the increased heat; new species were located at the feeding station and hide by the reserve centre.

These included Bronze Cowbird and Olive Sparrow at the feeding station, and stunningly close views from the hide of Green Jay, Golden-fronted Woodpecker and White-throated Sparrow, along with a scampering ground squirrel.

There was a short nature trail which we decided to walk along, and yet more new species could be found amongst those we had already seen; Ladder-backed Woodpecker, eventually identified after much debate; Eastern Wood-Pewee, Song Sparrow and White-winged Dove.

As time was still on our side we drove round the reserve loop to see if we could locate any other specialities of the area, and we were not to be disappointed.

Along with the numerous waders and wildfowl present we added Ross’s Goose, Aplomado Falcon (which at least one of the party was almost apoplectic about), Whimbrel, Gull-billed Tern and several Osprey’s, including some perched on the beach! As we continued on the loop we also added Black-necked Grebe, Ruddy Duck, Masked Duck (although we didn’t realise it until later that evening), and Redhead; plus a rather spectacular species of snake which slithered away before most could see it well, and our only tarantula of the trip, taking a quiet stroll across the reserve road.

We left the reserve somewhat reluctantly, almost drooling over the quality of what we had seen, and wondering if the rest of the Rio Grande could provide an encore!

Overnight                : Comfort Inn, McAllen

Wednesday 14th April

Santa Ana
Anzalduas State Park
Bentsen Rio-Grande State Park

Our first port of call today was Santa Ana, and immediately as we arrived we were bombarded with new species in and around the car park.

Starting with Couch’s Kingbird, this was followed by the raucous turkey-like Plain Chachalaca, a species noticeably vocal, but not that easy to see, and then for all the group, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

A sudden call from one of the group and everyone looked skyward as a group of a dozen or so Mississippi Kite went over, along with a couple of Sharp-shinned Hawk. Western Kingbird and White-tipped Dove were also identified before we started our walk around the reserve.

Santa Ana is one of those places where almost anything can be seen in the semitropical woodland and wetland areas, and you do it all on foot, unlike many of the other Texas reserves which you tend to stay in your car.

Firstly we puzzled over a Long-billed Thrasher, had excellent views of both Yellow-rumped Warbler and Green Jay, then a couple of the group had a flyover Hairy Woodpecker, and an excellent Cooper’s Hawk was also seen. Moving into the reedy, open water area, a small group of Clay-coloured Sparrow were finally identified, then, after several previous fleeting glimpses, all the group managed to see one more of our target species, the Greater Kiskadee, and also we saw the first of several Broad-winged Hawk’s for the day. Several of the group were also fortunate to glimpse a Ringed Kingfisher as it flew straight across in front of us.

More species were added in the wooded area surrounding a small lake; Swainson’s Hawk, American Wigeon and Black-throated Green Warbler.

One of the wardens provided some information about a site we knew nothing about, and then we met up with a well known British birder who gave us details of yet another site which he had just come from.

So, taking note of this latter information we headed to Anzalduas where we fairly quickly located a Clay-coloured Robin, along with Brown-crested Flycatcher and a pair of nesting Altamira Oriole, but many of the species reported to be present earlier on the day couldn’t be located, although one lucky member of the group did glimpse a Tropical Parula.

Much later than anticipated we arrived at Bentsen Rio-Grande which was unfortunately somewhat quiet, although the only bird of note seen here was a rather splendid Indigo Bunting.

Nevertheless, a very rewarding day, and our plans for tomorrow were changing to take advantage of these new sites we had found out about.

Overnight                : Comfort Inn, McAllen

Thursday 15th April

Anzalduas State Park
Brownsville Dump
Sabal Palm Grove
Bentsen Rio-Grande

An early start, before daybreak, saw as back at Anzalduas as light started to break, and on the drive to the reception area we spotted a pair of Least Grebe.

Once inside the park, which was blissfully peaceful compared to the previous afternoon, birds started to appear; and alongside Couch’s Kingbird and Golden-fronted Woodpecker we also saw Nashville Warbler and then, after much searching, located the nest with a sitting female Grey Hawk; a Rio Grande speciality.

Other species seen yesterday were located again, plus a very approachable Spotted Sandpiper, and then, whilst failing again to locate the apparently present Tropical Parula, we were rewarded with a stunning bird, when we saw at very close range a Black and White Warbler, which must be the ultimate ‘monochrome’ species in existence.

Some time later than anticipated we headed for Brownsville, the border town, where some of the group went shopping, whilst the rest of us went ‘to the rubbish tip’!

The tip, full of birds it might have been, but most of these were Laughing Gulls, but we did locate one or two Chihuahuan Ravens here.

Nearby is the Audubon Society Centre at Sabal Palm Grove, and we spent some time here, which was time well spent, finding Hooded Oriole and Buff-bellied Hummingbird, as well as one of the first Groove-billed Ani’s to arrive.

En-route back to the motel we stopped of at a river crossing just outside the town of Progresso, and saw a good cross-section of species in very quick succession. Although most of these had been seen before during the trip, we did add Mottled Duck, Black Phoebe (the first ever breeding record for the ‘county’) and Lincoln’s Sparrow.

We were having a late night, and left the motel to head back to Bentsen, but not before a fortunate few saw a party of Green Parakeet flying over the motel heading for their roost site.

A wait at Bentsen in the ever increasing gloom brought just glimpses of an Elf Owl at the entrance to its nest hole, and if you blinked at the wrong time you missed it leave.

Overnight                : Comfort Inn, McAllen

Friday 16th April

Falcon State Park
Falcon Dam
San Ygnacio

Sadly, after a few short days, we were today leaving the Rio Grande, and the semi-desert areas beckoned on our way to Laredo.

Our fist stop today was at Falcon State Park, the turn off to which we missed; but once on the right road down towards the park we located another of our prime target species when a Greater Roadrunner appeared at the side of the drive, and we saw several more around the reserve centre.

A feeding station a few hundred yards from the centre provided yet more excitement, as from here we added more new birds including Curve-billed Thrasher, Northern Oriole, Pyrrhuloxia, Black-throated Sparrow, Bewick’s Wren and Verdin. It was superb country, just where you would expect to find a rattler, but we didn’t.

Then, just as we were leaving, a long overdue species was found, when an American Kestrel was seen perched on the nearly cables, and soon afterwards we added Lark Sparrow.

Our lunch stop was at a little place on the Rio Grande river called Salineno, so Mexico was no more than a few hundred yards away on the other side of the river.

This stop turned out to be an excellent choice, with not only the most photogenic Northern Cardinal you could imagine, but many other species being seen as well; with Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Red-eyed Vireo being followed by two superb sightings in Green Kingfisher and finally two enormous Ringed Kingfisher’s. In addition, a couple of the group were very fortunate to see Brown Jay, and everyone finally caught up with Cactus Wren.

Crossing the border patrol before being allowed onto Falcon Dam, we went to the centre of the dam hoping for Muscovy Duck, a bird seen by a fortunate few just outside Brownsville the previous day, but we were unsuccessful, although we did locate an American Pipit in amongst a group of small waders.

Finally we arrived at San Ygnacio, a very Mexican town, where, after much searching we finally located a White-collared Seedeater, plus several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

The drive through Laredo to our motel was awesome, and awful, and one of the vehicles arrived some 40 minutes after the rest had checked in.

Fortunately, this was to be our only night in Laredo.

Overnight                : Econolodge, Laredo

Saturday 17th April

Lake Santa Maria State Park
Neals Lodge

We had noticed a State park at Lake Santa Maria on our way into Laredo, and as we had no real plans today other than getting to the hill country and our base at Uvalde, we decided to stop off here first.

Nothing new was added, although we did get a reasonable view of a party of ‘Wild Boar’, known as ‘Feral Hog’ in Texas.

Our trip North was completed quite quickly so after settling into our motel rooms, outside which we had a couple of House Finch, we decided to head towards Neal’s Lodge; but not before we had scanned an area of rough ground at the edge of the motel. This area provided two additions to our trip list with a small flock of Lesser Goldfinch and a few Chipping Sparrow’s.

Neal’s Lodge is one of those places you just don’t want to leave. Set in the ‘Hill Country’, the scenery is wonderful, although as the rest of Texas had been completely the opposite it didn’t have much to compete with.

We just wandered around and saw some wonderful species, like the species of hummingbird on the feeders right by the lodge centre, which were mainly Black-chinned. Spending some time down by the river we spoke to the local expert birder who had written a book on the birds and sites of the area, and we saw a performing Black Phoebe and also Pine Siskin and Common Raven.

Continuing our walk we added a number of birds in quick succession Eastern Phoebe, Rufous-sided Towhee, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Wilson’s Warbler, Bushtit and Bell’s Vireo, and after all this, we located one of the true specialities of the area, when brief but superb views were had of a Black-capped Vireo.

On arriving back at our motel in the twilight we were rewarded with a large number of Lesser Nighthawk flying around our motel.

Quite a spectacular day.

Overnight                : Best Western, Uvalde

Sunday 18th April

Garner State Park
Lost Maples
Frio Bat Cave

Although more popular as ‘fall’ locations for their stunning scenery, both Garner State Park and Lost Maples have habitat suited for some of the areas specialities.

Once again our first new species was located in the driveway leading up to the park centre when a Wild Turkey was seen.

Then vying for the sighting of the trip was a stunning male Vermilion Flycatcher which displayed right in front of us; the red had to be seen to be believed, and the nearby Summer Tanager appeared positively ‘pink’ in comparison!

Driving slowly through the park we stopped suddenly as an Eastern Bluebird appeared, and this was followed by Rufous-crowned Sparrow and, after much searching, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a bird almost identical to our own Goldcrest. Then, the second of the area’s specialities was found when a Golden-cheeked Warbler was seen, along with brief glimpses of a Brown Jay.

We stopped off for a short break at a site in the local birders book, and saw Black-chinned Hummingbird within touching distance, along with Eastern Phoebe and Pine Siskin.

Lost Maples had a very pleasant walk through the canyon and yet more birds were seen; White-eyed Vireo, and for a select few a magnificent Zone-tailed Hawk, yet another speciality of the area, plus excellent views of some of the warblers seen earlier in the trip, including Black and White, Golden-cheeked, Wilson’s and Yellow-rumped, plus Canyon Wren and finally a surprise when an out of place Dusky-capped Flycatcher was identified.

In addition to this, an armadillo was seen, albeit with difficulty, as it foraged in the undergrowth.

Some of the group stayed at the motel whilst the rest went on a organised visit to Frio Bat Cave.

This was the most spectacular sight imaginable, as hundreds of thousands of Mexican Free-tailed Bats poured out of the cave in a continuous stream for many, many minutes, forming huge clouds in the sky as they headed off for their nights feeding. Standing just a few yards from the entrance the smell was, as you would expect, potent, but the sight more than compensated for it; and added to this we had many Cave Swallows in and around the cave entrance, and saw a number of raptors arrive to make the most of the easy picking; and these included Red-tailed and Swainson’s Hawk and Merlin.

The night ended listening to Common Poorwill calling, and seeing more of the Lesser Nighthawk back at the motel.

Overnight                : Best Western, Uvalde

Monday 19th April

County Road 202
Park Chalk Bluff
Neals Lodge

A pre-breakfast trip to County Road 202 on the outskirts of Uvalde, another site in the local birding guide proved to be a real bonus.

After arriving and strolling down the road, with small birds flitting into the hedgerows to both left and right, we first found a singing Cassin’s Sparrow, along with a number of other sparrow species namely Lark, Black-throated and Rufous-crowned; then excellent if only brief views of a Yellow-breasted Chat were seen, and also both flying over and very briefly perched on the overhead wires, a superb Painted Bunting; a technicolor species if ever there was one, and also Green-tailed Towhee.

After breakfast back near the hotel we heard of, and finally located our only American Robin of the entire trip, in the nearby local park.

Park Chalk Bluff had also been recommended, so we headed there, seeing Brown-crested Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Greater Roadrunner and Hepatic Tanager before we arrived, as well as a rather impressive lizard species of some description.

We first drove down to the river where many small birds were located, but they initially proved extremely difficult to identify, flitting about as they were high in the canopy above us, but eventually they gave themselves up one by one; Magnolia Warbler, Nashville and Wilson’s Warbler, and probably the most stunning of all, Yellow-throated Warbler; plus Spotted Sandpiper on the river and also many of the group also saw Yellow-bellied Sapsucker here. In another part of the park we also saw, for everyone this time, a Zone-tailed Hawk.

We ended the day back at Neal’s Lodge where along with the previously seen species like the ever present Black-chinned Hummingbird and Bewick’s Wren we also added a Blue Grosbeak, another new species to the list and a fitting end to our stay in the hill country.

Overnight                : Best Western, Uvalde

Tuesday 20th April

Attwater Prairie Chicken
Eagle Lake

Most of today was spent travelling on the long trip from Uvalde to Baytown, a distance of some 400 miles.

We therefore took the opportunity to stop off at Attwater Prairie Chicken Refuge but we were not allowed into the refuge area to see the speciality.

However, we did take a drive around the refuge, after first getting some of the history of the site from one of the rangers present, and the drive did provide several White-tailed Hawk’s and a brief view of a Sprague’s Pipit.

On leaving the refuge we were told of a singing Dickcissel up ahead and, for those of us looking, we located a small flock of these birds hidden deep inside the vegetation before they flew off not to be located again.

A stop was also made at Eagle Lake where no new species were seen, although much better views of an Eastern Bluebird were had.

Finally, before heading through Houston to our motel, we tried in vain to find the Katy Rice Fields, but a huge eagle that took off from a field as we were turning into heavy traffic proved later to be an immature Bald Eagle.

Overnight                : Holiday Inn, Baytown

Wednesday 21st April

Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
High Island

Today  we went back to Anahuac noticing many flooded fields en-route, several with a range of waders in them, but apart from American Golden Plover, which not all the group had seen previously, there was nothing new to be seen.

Anahuac, second time around, was somewhat disappointing as many of the pools which previously were alive with birds were now dry, although we did locate a group of birders at the ‘rail’ field, wandering through with as rope trying to flush out rail species, even though it was now getting late in the season.

We decided to give it a go, and a number of small passerines were flushed, together with a single Yellow Rail; the passerines were nearly all new, Marsh Wren, Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Sedge Wren, Swamp Sparrow and lastly Seaside Sparrow.

Then whilst we were having a short rest overlooking the estuary a single Bonaparte’s Gull drifted past amongst other species of gull, tern and wader.

Arriving at High Island at lunch time we were surprised by the increasing number of birders around, and once we settled into the area realised that a vast number of species, if not a vast number of birds, were present.

Blackpoll Warbler was followed with both Louisiana and Northern Waterthrush, several Grey Catbird, Baltimore Oriole, Bobolink, Summer and Scarlet Tanager, Wood, Swainson’s and Grey Cheeked Thrush, Painted Bunting, Yellow, Tennessee and Blue-winged Warbler, Ovenbird and Common Yellowthroat.

On top of this, we had brief views of two other spectacular birds at first, but then much better views followed of both American Redstart and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

Even if this hadn’t been a ‘fall’ it still kept us all entranced for the whole afternoon.

To end the day, a brief view as we crossed the bridge out of high Island was seen of a Short-eared Owl, a species some had seen earlier in the trip.

Overnight                : Holiday Inn, Baytown

Thursday 22nd April

Big Thicket
Pine Island

Big Thicket was our target today and our aim was to visit a number of sites in this vast area.

Birding proved difficult throughout the day, forest areas always seem to have birds on the other side of them, but at our first location we eventually tracked down a singing Prairie Warbler.

The star birds of the day followed at the headquarters when a nesting Pileated Woodpecker was found at it’s nest hole and both Prothonotary Warbler and Hooded Warbler were seen by different member’s of the group; even if you did have to get eaten alive by mosquitoes to see one or other of them.

An unscheduled stop at Pine Island provided a rest bite (excuse the pun), and also a couple of Fish Crow’s were seen briefly.

Overnight                : Holiday Inn, Baytown

Friday 23rd April

High Island
Houston - Gatwick

Well, this was our last day in Texas, and a change of plan meant that we headed back to High Island, by popular choice, rather than to the NASA Space Centre.

Many of the species present yesterday afternoon were still around, including Swainson’s Thrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Blackpoll Warbler.

Then, just before we had to leave for the two hour drive back to the airport, first, a Downy Woodpecker, and lastly, a Black-billed Cuckoo were seen.

We headed back to Houston and dropped off the minivans, and still added Mute Swan and Mallard, species some of the group had actually seen on the very first day.

Overnight                : Continental Airlines

Saturday 24th April


After the long overnight flight, the UK and home beckoned to us all.

So that was Texas, a total of 290 species identified in total by the group, nearly 3000 miles covered and an excellent experience; especially for those of us who had never visited the US before.

Final Footnote:

To end on a personal note, I personally saw 270 of the 290 species, of which 215 were lifers, and my initial personal doubts over visiting the States have well and truly been squashed, and I look forward to my next visit with much excitement.

I would like to thank all of you for coming along on the trip and making such a wonderful experience, and I hope you enjoyed the experience as much as I did; you were a great crowd to travel with.

In particular my thanks go to the drivers of the minivans; Ron, Mike, Phil, Steve, Chris, Graham and John; without you the trip could not have happened.

Why not send us a report, or an update to one of your current reports?