Rockport, Texas: A Bonanza of Wintering Birds: Nov 13—17, 2017
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A short tour to one of the most bird-rich parts of the country, featuring close views of Whooping Cranes, and abundant opportunities to study waterfowl, shorebirds, gulls, sparrows, and more.
In a state replete with extraordinary birding locations, the Central Coast of Texas is without a doubt among the very best. From Corpus Christi to Rockport, the Central Coast boasts a fabulous range of habitats from open beaches to salt and brackish marshes, coastal prairie, shallow bays, and expansive mudflats. Thousands of birds occur here year-round, feasting on the abundance of food that exists as a consequence of such a supreme variety of habitats and ecosystems. Through the fall and winter, waterbirds are particularly abundant, with thousands upon thousands of ducks, geese, and shorebirds amassing in the network of bays, lagoons, and shorelines of this rich area. The star among these is the magnificent Whooping Crane, a species whose wild population plummeted to a low of just 21 birds in 1941, but has now rebounded to more than 400. A boat trip to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge will allow up-close views of these special birds in the heart of their winter range, along with a wide array of other species. Other destinations will include Goose Island State Park on the shores of St. Charles Bay, marshes and grasslands around Port Bay, open beaches and the famous Port Aransas Birding Center in nearby Port Aransas, and numerous other favorite little spots along the way.
With vast numbers of birds to sort through, one goal of this departure will be to patiently focus on improving birding skills, and to practice with some of the trickier identification problems, such as female ducks, winter gulls, dowitchers and “peeps,” sparrows, and meadowlarks. While spending time in habitats that promise exposure to a wide diversity of birds, we will also hope to encounter local specialties, such as Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Ross’s Goose, Roseate Spoonbill, White-tailed Hawk, Sora, Sandhill and Whooping Cranes, American Oystercatcher, Snowy and Piping plovers, Gull-billed Tern, Sedge Wren, and Le Conte’s and Seaside sparrows.
Situated on the coastal bend of Texas, the Rockport area is at the epicenter of this bonanza, and the ideal home base for our tour. A diversity of land and water habitats, hosting legions of waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, hawks, and landbirds, are found within a very short driving distance. In late fall, during the time of our visit, the rich resident avifauna is augmented by a host of wintering species, many of which are easy to approach, allowing fine opportunities for close study.
Comfortable accommodations; all nights at same lodging; short drives; moderate walking on level ground; warm to cool temperatures.