After not being able to travel to California, Jim Orrico and I were able to salvage our airplane tickets and most of the cost of the trip and put it toward a last-minute trip to Texas. I threw together a quick itinerary, helped (as always) by the ABA’s fantastic bird-finding guides, we then booked the motels and the like, and, in just three days, we had a fully new trip in the works!
Our plan was to fly into San Antonio, drive to Corpus Christi that day, spend a couple days there then move down to the Rio Grande Valley for a few days before ending up back where we started, birding the Edward’s Plateau.
Everything went pretty much to plan, except for a few minor changes. It was an incredibly successful trip, leaving us amazed at how much we were able to accomplish.
Our itinerary went like this:
March 22: Arrived in San Antonio, drove down to Goose Island State Park and Corpus Christi Area.
March 23: Hilltop Community Center Grounds, Aransas NWR.
March 24: Whooping Crane boat trip, US-77 spots, and going for parrots in Harlingen.
March 25: San Miguelito Ranch, RGV rarities and Estero Llano Grande.
March 26: Santa Ana NWR and farm fields in the area.
March 27: Bentsen Rio Grande State Park, Frontera Audubon, downtown McAllen for parakeets.
March 28: Salineno, Falcon State Park and Roma Bluffs World Birding Center.
March 29: Brush outside Falcon State Park, San Ygnacio Spots, arrive back in San Antonio
March 30: Kickapoo Cavern State Park and Lost Maples State Natural Area.
March 31: Friedrich Wilderness Park
April 1: Flight home.
In terms of numbers, the trip ended up being about quantity and quality. In all, we got a good number of life birds, though I’m not sure of the exact total. Plus, our trip list topped out at around 183. However, it was definitely not a tick-and-run, proved by the trip list total as well as the fact that we didn’t put a lot of time in for Hook-billed Kite, Muscovy Duck or other hard-to-find specialties. Our main interest was to enjoy all the specialties we ran into, not just put all our energy into a select few. Plus, we spent our days at three spots or less, giving us time to enjoy these birds.
In terms of weather, we had sun every day, despite the fact that many of the mornings started out cloudy. The only rain we experienced was a brief shower on our way up to San Antonio. In the valley, the high temperature was 85-89 every single day, with the highs for the Corpus Christi area being just a bit cooler than that. However, when we arrived in San Antonio, a cold front was keeping the temperature cooler and on one of the days the high never got above 63.
San Antonio was scenic, Corpus Christi beautiful and the valley picturesque and brimming with life. It turned out to be one of if not the most successful trip I’ve ever been on. Sure, we missed some birds, but we did it on our own, with hardly any help from guides or tour leaders. You get a good feeling knowing that you planned the itinerary, you spotted the birds, you put in the effort, instead of following and depending on a tour leader around for a week.
I plan on posting all of the highlights here, a post per day. It may take a while as I am having some computer problems, but I should make my first post some time in the next week. Stay tuned!