Dave Hursh and I just returned from a fantastic ten day trip to Texas. Our two primary goals for the trip were to see Black Rail and Colima Warbler. We achieved both of them. Along the way, we also got to enjoy 238+ other species and the varied landscapes and cuisines of the Lone Star State.
Over the course of our adventure, I picked up five life birds (plus one ABA life bird) and got to see many great western species for the first time in a while. Dave is so well-traveled in the ABA area that Black Rail was his sole life bird, but his expertise with many of the locations we visited helped out big time.
Ever since my first trip to California (and the Pacific coast) in July-August 2012, I have embarked on a series of “cleanup trips” to try to connect with some of my remaining life birds in the Lower 48. Texas was the latest of these trips, which have also included CA/AZ in March 2013 and Washington in September 2015.
Because of the low number of life bird targets, we were able to spend a good deal of time enjoying and learning more about species we have already seen. We spent a morning in Salineño to see some of our favorite RGV species, an afternoon at High Island to witness the spectacle there, and a walk through Blue Creek Canyon at Big Bend to try for Lucifer Hummingbird and Gray Vireo.
For birds both new and familiar, our trip was a complete and overwhelming success, in which we connected with some pretty hard-to-see ABA birds. Our itinerary is below.
Day 1 (April 15) – Flew into Houston and drove out to our accommodation for the night in Winnie. Spent the late afternoon and evening birding the Skillern Tract portion of Anahuac NWR.
Day 2 (April 16) – Yellow Rail walk at Anahuac NWR followed with a couple of hours spent birding the remainder of the refuge. We spent the early afternoon birding High Island before moving on to Lake Jackson for the night.
Day 3 (April 17) – We birded the coastal plain en route to Laredo, stopping at congregations of shorebirds in farm fields or whenever we saw a raptor. Upon arrival at our destination, we spent some time birding the Las Palmas trail, directly across the Rio Grande from Mexico.
Day 4 (April 18) – Began the day at dawn at Salineño where we enjoyed a host of RGV specialties. We then drove back through Laredo to the Uvalde area and spent the afternoon birding the vicinity of Neal’s Lodges in Concan.
Day 5 (April 19) – Started at Neal’s Lodges before moving over to Lost Maples SNA mid-morning. We spent the middle part of the day making the long drive to the Davis Mountains, which we birded at the end of the day.
Day 6 (April 20) – Spent the day birding the Davis Mountains and environs.
Day 7 (April 21) – We left early for Big Bend National Park, hitting Blue Creek Canyon, Cottonwood Campground, and the Basin.
Day 8 (April 22) – Made the climb for the Colima Warbler, making it all the way to Boot Spring. A tiring but exhilarating hike!
Day 9 (April 23) – Drove the almost seven hours back to San Antonio, stopping briefly to bird along the way.
Day 10 (April 24) – Flew home.
Many readers of this post will have heard about the devastating rain and floods that hit Houston last week. Dave and I managed to leave Houston a mere hour before the rains started, one of the many fortuitous occasions of this trip.
Texas is a fantastic birding state, with a giant avifauna and many awesome birding regions (including the coast, Rio Grande Valley, Edward’s Plateau, and Trans Pecos). I highly recommend it to those who have not yet visited.