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A Report from

Texas birding trip. April 30th – May 9th 2005,

Daan Planting

This report is about the birding trip I made in Texas.

Preparing the trip

In february 2003 I visited Texas. I mainly birded the coast and Rio Grande Valley. The main reason for coming back to Texas was for the summerbirds and a second chance for some missed species. I visited the High Island area and the Edward's Plateau. After birding Texas I drove to Arizona. To break the long drive, and for some good birding I added Big Bend NP and Davis Mountains.

I used 3 ABA Birdfinding Guides:

- Birdfinder. A Birder's Guide To Planning North American Trips. Very usefull!

- A Birder's Guide to the Texas Coast.

- A Birder's Guide to the Rio Grande Valley (Edward's Plateau and western Texas)

I used the new Sibley North American Bird Guide for identification and the Stokes Field Guide to bird songs for sounds using a MD player.

At the Internet I found many trip reports which were usefull.

Itinerary ( * = lifer)


Flight from Amsterdam to Houston. Arrival at 2 pm. Picked up the Ford Explorer from Hertz and drove to White Memorial Park east of Houston.First regular birds were Turkey Vulture, Blue Jay, Carolina Wren, Killdeer, Carolina Chickadee, Northern Mockingbird, Purple Martin, Starling, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret and American Crow. Lifers were Red-bellied Woodpecker* (White Memorial Park), Chimney Swift*, Great-crested Flycatcher* (White Mem. Park), Pileated Woodpecker* (along the road to the golfpark east of White Memorial Park) and Common Grackle*. Camped for 5 nights at Turtle Bayou RV Park, which is directly along the highway and very noisy. I slept in the car the other nights at this RV park.


Up at 5 am. Drove to Anahuac NWR. Drove the Shoveler Pond road and stopped at the Willows. Good birding. Common Nighthawk* was flying and calling at first light. Killdeer, Red-winged Blackbird, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Eastern Kingbird*, shorebirds and herons were common. Most of the birds were seen in the canal along the road and the marshlands at Shoveler Pond: Purple Martin, Orchard Oriole*, Purple Gallinule, Northern Waterthrush*, Least* and American Bittern*, Marsh Wren* responding well to the tape, King Rail on the track, Yellow Warbler* and Savannah Sparrow at the drier patches.

Around 9 am drove to High Island. Birded first at Boy Scouts Wood which was full of birds and birders. Saw 18 lifers there in a few hours: Catbird*, Rose-breasted Grosbeak*, Baltimore Oriole*, Grey-cheeked*, Swainsons and Wood* Thrush, Bay-breasted*, Tennessee*, Magnolia*, Chestnut-sided*, Yellow, Blackburnian, Kentucky* and Worm-eating* Warbler, American Redstart*, Indigo Bunting, Summer and Scarlet* Tanager, Philadelphia Vireo*, Ovenbird*, Least Flycatcher*, Veery*, Blue Grosbeak* and Sora (heard). Afternoon at Smith Oak which added Cedar Waxwing*, Golden-winged Warbler* and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher*.

At the sea-side of Rd1 (west) is a small but promissing TOS park with a drip. I checked this just before dark. Today 29 lifers!


Started at White Memorial Park. Saw 2 Red-headed Woodpeckers flying away..

Went to Sabine Forest. Many birders prefer Sabine Forest above the High Island sites. It is farther east, easier birding and has many good species. I didn't see all the species I saw at High Island, so I think you should do both. Added Hooded* and  Black-and-white Warbler, Ruby-throated Hummingbird*, Eastern Wood-Pewee*, Yellow-billed Cuckoo*, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron and an Armadillo. A few miles further on the road takes one to the Willows. Same species and Northern Parula*. Texas Point had Seaside Sparrow*, Least Tern*, Willet and many King Rail.


Today I headed for the Big Thicket. I started at Gore Store Road, where I saw a Swainsons Warbler*. At the Kirby Trail (nice trail with good forest) I taped in a beautiful Prothonotary Warbler*, Yellow-throated Vireo* and Acadian Flycatcher*. Saw Red-bellied Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, Louisiana Waterthrush* and Red-eyed Vireo. Drove to Roy E. Larsen Sandyland. Walk in and after a short while you will see an open area with dead trees. Red-headed Woodpecker is easy here. At Tyrell Park they wouldn't let me enter the dump. I missed Fish Crow. Drove to Farmrd. 1941 south of Winnie where I found the Upland Sandpiper also seen by others.


Checked the notes at the board at Boy Scouts. Nothing special. Went to Bolivar Flats. Many good and new birds although only 2 lifers. Among others were Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Glaucous Gull (rare for Texas), Laughing Gull, Royal, Forster's, Sandwich and Least Tern, Marbled Godwit, Peregrine, Great Blue Heron, Piping Plover*!, Veery, White Ibis, Tricolored Heron, Shore Lark, Ring-billed Gull, Black Skimmer, White-tailed Kite*, Northern Crested Caracara and Seaside Sparrow. At Yacht Basin Road (directly west of Rollover Pass) I saw a few Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows*.

Spent an hour at Boys Scout and some time at Smith Oak. Looked for Hudsonian Godwit, without any result, along Hw 1985. I heard of a Bald Eagle nest at "Hatchers Christmas Tree". This is just north of White Memorial Park along the road to Lake Charlotte. This is private property, but if you ask, they will proudly show you the nest. Saw 1 adult Bald Eagle* in a tree.


Left at 6 am to San Antonio and Kerrville. Drove straight through Houston to Katy. No good birds here. At a stop I heard, and after some searching saw, a Northern Bobwhite*. At Kerr WMA the refuge people gave me good information (a drawn map with the best spots) about the Golden-cheeked Warbler* and the Black-capped Vireo. At their advise I first tried the warbler which was still singing and was pretty easy to find. Didn't find the Vireo. The staff told me you have to be there at dawn, because that's the only time the vireos sing. Other birds were Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Red-tailed Hawk, Cliff Swallow, Lark Bunting (on the wires), White-eyed Vireo. Driving back to Hunt, at the Guadalupe River crossing, found Wood Duck*, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Canyon Wren* and Cooper's Hawk*.

Motel in Kerrville.


To Kerr WMA at 5 am. A few stops after Hunt produced Horned Owl (heard), Chuck-will Widow* and possible Lesser Nighthawk. Right at first light the Black-capped Vireo* started singing and I found it in a tree. A singing Field Sparrow* kept me busy for half an hour, because I didn't recognise the sound. Saw a beautiful male Painted Bunting*.

Drove to Lost Maples. This is other habitat again. At the feeders came Black-chinned Hummingbird*, House Finch* and Western Scrub-Jay*. Walked the East trail. Nice scenery with Chipping Sparrow (for the first time in summer plumage for me), Red-shouldered Hawk* with a snake, Canyon Wren (the Ponds), Green Kingfisher (the Ponds), Eastern Phoebe.

Drove to Del Rio at the end of the day. Harris' Hawk beside the highway.

Three Rivers RV Park just west of Del Rio.


Drove to Big Bend. Very harsh country with a few Swainson's Hawk*. At a stop saw Bullocks Oriole*, Bewicks Wren, Pyrrhuloxia. Starts getting interesting if you're entering Big Bend. Saw a large Rattle Snake on the road and many Texas Jack Rabbit trying to kill themself by jumping in front of your car. New birds were Cactus Wren, Roadrunner and Northern Mockingbird. Walked the hot, but rewarding Window Trail. Saw Canyon Towhee*, Scott's Oriole*, Black-chinned Sparrow*, Varied Bunting* Ladder-backed Woodpecker and Winter Wren (heard). Walked the Basin Loop Trail just before dark where I found Rufous-crowned Sparrow*. Heard Elf Owl* and Common Poorwill at night.

Campsite at the Basin.


Left at 5 am to walk the Boot Spring Trail via Laguna Meadow and back via the Pinnacles Trail. One of the best days of the trip! Very beautiful area, good forest, nice views (Mexico and Big Bend) and good birds (17 lifers). Had Colima Warbler* a few hundred meter (elevation) under the pass before Laguna Meadow. Other birds were Black-headed Grosbeak*, Western Scrub Jay, Black-chinned Sparrow, Broad-tailed Hummingbird*, Ash-throated Flycatcher*, White-throated Swift*, Mexican Jay*, Bewick's Wren, Spotted Towhee*, Yellow-rumped (Audubon) Warbler, Acorn Woodpecker* (one of the prettiest birds of the trip), Blue-throated Hummingbird* (Boot Spring), Hermit Thrush, Cordilleran Flycatcher* (Boot Spring), Violet-green Swallow*, Orange-crowned Warbler, Rock Wren*, Western Tanager*, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, "Black-eared" Bushtit. There was a Say's Phoebe* at the campsite when I came back.

Campsite at the Basin.


Drove to Tuscon today. At 5 am to Davis Mountains State Park. Searched for the Montezuma Quail, but couldn't find one. New were Cassin's Kingbird* and White-breasted Nuthatch*. Also around were Summer and Western Tanager and Vermillion Flycatcher. Than on to El Paso. Just before it is Mc Nary's Reservoir. Both Clark's* and Western* Grebe, Ruddy Duck, Neotropic Cormorant, Wilson's Phalarope and Black-crowned Night- Heron at the reservoir. A Burrowing Owl* was along the FM-192. If you come from the TX-20 and turn SW onto the FM-192, it was on the north side of the road, opposite the first house on the left. After that drove to Arizona.

Birdlist Texas.

* I didn't pay much attention to the identification of sandpipers.

* F = first/lifer

1.      Pied-billed Grebe                              Podilymbus podiceps

2.      F Western Grebe                             Aechmophorus occidentalis

3.      F Clark's Grebe                                Aechmophorus clarkii

4.      Brown Pelican                                 Pelecanus occidentalis

5.      Neotropic Cormorant                       Phalacrocorax brasilianus

6.      Great Blue Heron                             Ardea herodias

7.      Great Egret                                    Ardea alba

8.      Tricolored Heron                             Egretta tricolor

9.      Little Blue Heron                              Egretta caerulea

10.  Snowy Egret                                   Egretta thula

11.  Cattle Egret                                   Bubulcus ibis

12.  Green Heron                                   Butorides virescens

13.  Black-crowned Night-Heron               Nycticorax nycticorax

14.  F Least Bittern                                Ixobrychus exilis

15.  F American Bittern                           Botaurus lentiginosus

16.  White Ibis                                       Eudocimus albus

17.  White-faced Ibis                              Plegadis chihi

18.  Roseate Spoonbill                   Platalea ajaja

19.  Fulvous Whistling-Duck                     Dendrocygna bicolor

20.  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck               Dendrocygna autumnalis

21.  F Wood Duck                                  Aix sponsa

22.  Blue-winged Teal                             Anas discors

23.  Ruddy Duck                                    Oxyura jamaicensis

24.  Black Vulture                                  Coragyps atratus

25.  Turkey Vulture                                Cathartes aura

26.  F White-tailed Kite                           Elanus leucurus

27.  F Bald Eagle                                    Haliaeetus leucocephalus

28.  F Cooper's Hawk                              Accipiter cooperii

29.  Harris' Hawk                                   Parabuteo unicinctus

30.  F Red-shouldered Hawk                     Buteo lineatus

31.  Broad-winged Hawk                          Buteo platypterus

32.  F Swainson's Hawk                           Buteo swainsoni

33.  Red-tailed Hawk                              Buteo jamaicensis

34.  Crested Caracara                                     Caracara cheriway

35.  Peregrine Falcon                              Falco peregrinus

36.  Wild Turkey                                    Meleagris gallopavo

37.  Scaled Quail                                    Callipepla squamata

38.  F Northern Bobwhite                        Colinus virginianus

39.  Clapper Rail                                    Rallus longirostris

40.  King Rail                                         Rallus elegans

41.  Sora                                              Porzana carolina

42.  Purple Gallinule                                Porphyrio martinica

43.  Common Moorhen                           Gallinula chloropus

44.  American Coot                                Fulica americana

45.  Black-necked Stilt                            Himantopus mexicanus

46.  American Avocet                             Recurvirostra americana

47.  American Golden-Plover                    Pluvialis dominica

48.  Black-bellied Plover                          Pluvialis squatarola

49.  Semipalmated Plover                        Charadrius semipalmatus

50.  Wilson's Plover                                Charadrius wilsonia

51.  Killdeer                                          Charadrius vociferus

52.  F Piping Plover                                 Charadrius melodus

53.  Wilson's Snipe                                 Gallinago delicata

54.  Short-billed Dowitcher                      Limnodromus griseus

55.  Long-billed Dowitcher                       Limnodromus scolopaceus

56.  Marbled Godwit                               Limosa fedoa

57.  Whimbrel                                       Numenius phaeopus

58.  F Upland Sandpiper                          Bartramia longicauda

59.  Greater Yellowlegs                           Tringa melanoleuca

60.  Lesser Yellowlegs                                      Tringa flavipes

61.  Spotted Sandpiper                           Actitis macularia

62.  Willet                                             Catoptrophorus semipalmatus

63.  Ruddy Turnstone                             Arenaria interpres

64.  Sanderling                             Calidris alba

65.  Western Sandpiper                           Calidris mauri

66.  Pectoral Sandpiper                           Calidris melanotos

67.  Dunlin                                            Calidris alpina

68.  Wilson's Phalarope                            Phalaropus tricolor

69.  Ring-billed Gull                                 Larus delawarensis

70.  Glaucous Gull                                  Larus hyperboreus

71.  Laughing Gull                                  Larus atricilla

72.  Caspian Tern                                  Sterna caspia

73.  Sandwich Tern                                Sterna sandvicensis

74.  Royal Tern                                     Sterna maxima

75.  Forster's Tern                                 Sterna forsteri

76.  F Least Tern                                   Sterna antillarum

77.  Black Tern                                      Chlidonias niger

78.  Black Skimmer                                Rynchops niger

79.  Mourning Dove                                Zenaida macroura

80.  White-winged Dove                          Zenaida asiatica

81.  Inca Dove                                      Columbina inca

82.  F Yellow-billed Cuckoo                      Coccyzus americanus

83.  Greater Roadrunner                         Geococcyx californianus

84.  Great Horned Owl                            Bubo virginianus

85.  F Elf Owl                                        Micrathene whitneyi

86.  F Burrowing Owl                              Athene cunicularia

87.  F Common Nighthawk                       Chordeiles minor

88.  F Common Poorwill                          Phalaenoptilus nuttallii

89.  F Chuck-will's-widow                        Caprimulgus carolinensis

90.  F Chimney Swift                              Chaetura pelagica

91.  F White-throated Swift                     Aeronautes saxatalis

92.  F Blue-throated Hummingbird            Lampornis clemenciae

93.  F Ruby-throated Hummingbird           Archilochus colubris

94.  F Black-chinned Hummingbird            Archilochus alexandri

95.  F Broad-tailed Hummingbird               Selasphorus platycercus

96.  Green Kingfisher                              Chloroceryle americana

97.  F Red-headed Woodpecker                Melanerpes erythrocephalus

98.  F Acorn Woodpecker                        Melanerpes formicivorus

99.  F Red-bellied Woodpecker                  Melanerpes carolinus

100.   Yellow-bellied Sapsucker               Sphyrapicus varius

101.   Ladder-backed Woodpecker          Picoides scalaris

102.   Downy Woodpecker                     Picoides pubescens

103.   Hairy Woodpecker                       Picoides villosus

104.   F Pileated Woodpecker                 Dryocopus pileatus

105.   Western Wood-Pewee                  Contopus sordidulus

106.   F Eastern Wood-Pewee                Contopus virens

107.   F Acadian Flycatcher                            Empidonax virescens

108.   F Least Flycatcher                      Empidonax minimus

109.   F Cordilleran Flycatcher               Empidonax occidentalis

110.   Eastern Phoebe                          Sayornis phoebe

111.   F Say's Phoebe                           Sayornis saya

112.   Vermilion Flycatcher                    Pyrocephalus rubinus

113.   F Ash-throated Flycatcher            Myiarchus cinerascens

114.   F Great Crested Flycatcher          Myiarchus crinitus

115.   F Cassin's Kingbird                       Tyrannus vociferans

116.   F Western Kingbird                      Tyrannus verticalis

117.   F Eastern Kingbird                       Tyrannus tyrannus

118.   F Scissor-tailed Flycatcher           Tyrannus forficatus

119.   Horned Lark                               Eremophila alpestris

120.   Purple Martin                              Progne subis

121.   F Violet-green Swallow                 Tachycineta thalassina

122.   N.Rough-winged Swallow              Stelgidopteryx serripennis

123.   Cliff Swallow                               Petrochelidon pyrrhonota

124.   Cave Swallow                             Petrochelidon fulva

125.   Barn Swallow                              Hirundo rustica

126.   F Cedar Waxwing                        Bombycilla cedrorum

127.   Cactus Wren                              Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus

128.   F Rock Wren                              Salpinctes obsoletus

129.   F Canyon Wren                           Catherpes mexicanus

130.   Carolina Wren                   Thryothorus ludovicianus

131.   Bewick's Wren                            Thryomanes bewickii

132.   Winter Wren                               Troglodytes troglodytes

133.   House Wren                               Troglodytes aedon

134.   F Marsh Wren                             Cistothorus palustris

135.   F Gray Catbird                            Dumetella carolinensis

136.   Northern Mockingbird                   Mimus polyglottos

137.   F Veery                                     Catharus fuscescens

138.   F Gray-cheeked Thrush                Catharus minimus

139.   Swainson's Thrush                       Catharus ustulatus

140.   Hermit Thrush                            Catharus guttatus

141.   F Wood Thrush                           Hylocichla mustelina

142.   Blue-gray Gnatcatcher                 Polioptila caerulea

143.   F Bushtit                                   Psaltriparus minimus

144.   Carolina Chickadee                      Poecile carolinensis

145.   Tufted Titmouse                         Baeolophus bicolor

146.   Black-crested Titmouse               Baeolophus atricristatus

147.   F White-breasted Nuthatch           Sitta carolinensis

148.   Loggerhead Shrike                       Lanius ludovicianus

149.   Blue Jay                                    Cyanocitta cristata

150.   F Western Scrub-Jay                   Aphelocoma californica

151.   F Mexican Jay                                      Aphelocoma ultramarina

152.   American Crow                           Corvus brachyrhynchos

153.   Chihuahuan Raven                       Corvus cryptoleucus

154.   Common Raven                          Corvus corax

155.   European Starling                        Sturnus vulgaris

156.   House Sparrow                           Passer domesticus

157.   White-eyed Vireo                        Vireo griseus

158.   F Black-capped Vireo                            Vireo atricapilla

159.   F Yellow-throated Vireo               Vireo flavifrons

160.   F Hutton's Vireo                          Vireo huttoni

161.   F Philadelphia Vireo                      Vireo philadelphicus

162.   Red-eyed Vireo                           Vireo olivaceus

163.   F House Finch                                      Carpodacus mexicanus

164.   F Golden-winged Warbler              Vermivora chrysoptera

165.   F Tennessee Warbler                            Vermivora peregrina

166.   Orange-crowned Warbler              Vermivora celata

167.   F Colima Warbler                        Vermivora crissalis

168.   F Northern Parula                        Parula americana

169.   Yellow Warbler                           Dendroica petechia

170.   F Chestnut-sided Warbler             Dendroica pensylvanica

171.   F Magnolia Warbler                      Dendroica magnolia

172.   Yellow-rumped Warbler                Dendroica coronata

173.   F Golden-cheeked Warbler            Dendroica chrysoparia

174.   Black-thr Green Warbler               Dendroica virens

175.   Blackburnian Warbler          Dendroica fusca

176.   Pine Warbler                               Dendroica pinus

177.   F Bay-breasted Warbler               Dendroica castanea

178.   Black-and-white Warbler               Mniotilta varia

179.   F American Redstart                    Setophaga ruticilla

180.   F Prothonotary Warbler                Protonotaria citrea

181.   F Worm-eating Warbler                Helmitheros vermivorus

182.   F Swainson's Warbler                   Limnothlypis swainsonii

183.   F Ovenbird                                Seiurus aurocapilla

184.   F Northern Waterthrush               Seiurus noveboracensis

185.   F Louisiana Waterthrush               Seiurus motacilla

186.   F Kentucky Warbler                     Oporornis formosus

187.   Common Yellowthroat                 Geothlypis trichas

188.   F Hooded Warbler                       Wilsonia citrina

189.   Canada Warbler                          Wilsonia canadensis

190.   F Scarlet Tanager                       Piranga olivacea

191.   Summer Tanager                        Piranga rubra

192.   F Western Tanager                     Piranga ludoviciana

193.   F Spotted Towhee                       Pipilo maculatus

194.   F Canyon Towhee                       Pipilo fuscus

195.   F Rufous-crowned Sparrow           Aimophila ruficeps

196.   Chipping Sparrow                        Spizella passerina

197.   F Field Sparrow                          Spizella pusilla

198.   F Black-chinned Sparrow              Spizella atrogularis

199.   Lark Sparrow                             Chondestes grammacus

200.   Savannah Sparrow                      Passerculus sandwichensis

201.   F Seaside Sparrow                      Ammodramus maritimus

202.   F Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow     Ammodramus nelsoni

203.   White-crowned Sparrow               Zonotrichia leucophrys

204.   White-throated Sparrow               Zonotrichia albicollis

205.   Northern Cardinal                        Cardinalis cardinalis

206.   Pyrrhuloxia                                 Cardinalis sinuatus

207.   F Rose-breasted Grosbeak            Pheucticus ludovicianus

208.   F Black-headed Grosbeak              Pheucticus melanocephalus

209.   F Blue Grosbeak                          Passerina caerulea

210.   Indigo Bunting                            Passerina cyanea

211.   F Varied Bunting                         Passerina versicolor

212.   F Painted Bunting                        Passerina ciris

213.   F Dickcissel                                Spiza americana

214.   Red-winged Blackbird                   Agelaius phoeniceus

215.   Eastern Meadowlark                    Sturnella magna

216.   Boat-tailed Grackle                      Quiscalus major

217.   Great-tailed Grackle                    Quiscalus mexicanus

218.   F Common Grackle                      Quiscalus quiscula

219.   Brown-headed Cowbird                Molothrus ater

220.   F Baltimore Oriole                       Icterus galbula

221.   F Bullock's Oriole                         Icterus bullockii

222.   F Orchard Oriole                         Icterus spurius

223.   F Scott's Oriole                           Icterus parisorum

Species Seen: 223


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