Spring Migration on the Upper Texas Coast (April 22-26, 2020)

By mid-April, spring migration is in full swing along the Texas coast and this itinerary places you in prime locations at prime time.  This five-day trip includes birding at legendary hotspots for an unrivaled spring migration spectacle.   Join Chip Clouse from Front Range Birding Company for a spectacular spring birding trip to the Upper Texas Coast.

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Lafitte’s Cove Sanctuary
  • High Island
  • Bolivar Flats Shorebird Preserve
  • Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
  • Chambers County Rice Fields & Pastures
  • W. G. Jones State Forest

ABOUT YOUR GUIDE: Chip Clouse is the Manager of the Front Range Birding Company in Boulder, CO and a long-time bird tour leader. Originally enamored with tooth and claw predators, his fascination with birds started by volunteering with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to monitor Peregrine Falcon nest sites while an undergraduate and was cemented once he saw his first Western Tanager while working for the Peregrine Fund in Oregon. With 20 years of bird research and project management experience in 9 states and the Caribbean nation of Grenada, a Masters in Conservation Biology from Colorado State, 5 years with the American Birding Association, 3 years as a rep with Opticron optics and Novagrade Digiscoping adapters and stints guiding at 15+ different US birding festivals, Chip is excited to share his love of birds and habitat in this trip to the places he fell in love with during his first trip to the Upper Texas Coast in 2003 and in several trips since.

ITINERARY

Day 1 (Wed, April 22): Arrival/ Houston/ Galveston ~ Mid-morning arrival to Houston Hobby Airport followed by afternoon birding at Galveston area hotspots including Lafitte’s Cove, Sportsman/ 8 Mile Rd., and Apffel Park Rd.

Accommodations: Homewood Suites by Hilton Galveston

Meals: Lunch

Day 2 (Thurs, April 23): Galveston/ Bolivar Flats/ Winnie ~ Our first full day in Texas begins with birding at Corps Woods, a heavily wooded area along a narrow waterway that’s a major feeding area for spring migrants and unusual birds year-round.  From there, we’ll continue to the Bolivar Peninsula, a short ferry ride away.  The Bolivar Flats are a unique area combining salt marsh, intertidal mudflats, beach and uplands, each habitat different from the other.  Every year during migration, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds converge here to feed on a nutrient-rich supply of food needed for their journey further north.  We’ll scan the flocks for species like Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Brown Pelican, Red Knot, plovers, dowitchers, gulls, and more. This afternoon, we’ll continue to Winnie where we’ll spend the next three nights.

Accommodations: Hampton Inn and Suites – Winnie

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 3 (Fri, April 24): Winnie/ High Island Sanctuaries ~ High Island is known around the world for the migration spectacle that occurs here each spring. Houston Audubon has four sanctuaries at High Island – Boy Scout Woods, Smith Oaks, Eubank Woods and S.E. Gast Red Bay. The oak woodland atop a hill surrounded by coastal prairie at Boy Scout Woods is the first patch of woods birds see after their 600-mile, 18-hour flight across the Gulf of Mexico. We’ll spend the entire day birding the area hoping for some rarities, and maybe even a fallout, amongst the groups of crowd pleasers like Painted Bunting, woodland warblers, Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo, and Blue Grosbeak.

Accommodations: Hampton Inn and Suites – Winnie

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 4 (Sat, April 25): Winnie/ Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge/ High Island ~ We’ll start our day at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge located on the eastern end of Galveston Bay.  During spring, the sound of migrating songbirds is complimented by the bellow of alligators trying to attract a mate.  Year-round residents include Roseate Spoonbill, Great and Snowy Egret, White-faced Ibis, and Mottled Duck. Most new arrivals crossing the Gulf of Mexico arrive in the afternoon so there’s time to revisit High Island today, too.

Accommodations: Hampton Inn and Suites – Winnie

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 5 (Sun, April 26): Winnie/ Chambers County/ W.G. Jones State Forest/ Departure ~ As we make our way back to Houston, we’ll spend time scanning rice fields and pastures in Chambers County for waterfowl and shorebirds.  We’ll then continue to W. G. Jones State Forest north of Houston, a woodland haven for wildlife.  Spanning more than 1700 acres and boasting an impressive list of more than 250 bird species, this loblolly pine forest is home to numerous southern specialties like Brown-headed Nuthatch, Pine Warbler, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Northern Cardinal.  This will be a wonderful change of scenery at the end of our trip.  Afternoon return to Houston Hobby Airport in time for our evening flight home.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

DETAILS

Price: $1375* per person based upon double occupancy.  Surcharge for private accommodations: $285

Price includes accommodations, full-time driver/ guide (Chip Clouse from Front Range Birding Company), activities, entrance fees, and meals as listed in the itinerary.

Exclusions: airfare, personal expenses, dinners, optional gratuities, and activities not listed in the itinerary.

Group Size: Min 6 participants; Max 9 participants + Chip Clouse

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