Courtesy of James P. Smith and Craig Holden
Birdfinders enjoyed yet another fantastic tour of Texas in April 2011. No other state in North America can match the diversity of species found in Texas, and this was more than adequately reflected in our trip total of over 300 species in two weeks! Our enthusiastic group marveled in the approachability of many of the birds we saw, especially the shorebirds, gull and terns on the beaches, and rails beneath the boardwalks.
This year's tour did not feature any major falls of migrants at the coastal hot-spots but we did enjoy gentle 'pulses' of migrants and connected with several species that only rarely appear on the trip list such as the exquisite Canada and Bay-breasted Warblers seen at Sabine Woods and High Island respectively. Involved in this movements was a very early Mourning warbler, the first we've ever recorded on the tour complimenting two other tour 'firsts', both of which were found in the hill country: Calliope Hummingbird and Lark Bunting.
The raptor show was something else and, remarkably, we managed to see every single available species on our Texas tour list. Most of this was down the effort by our hard-working group at certain select watch points as we looked for stellar species such White-tailed, Mississippi, Swallow-tailed and Hook-billed Kites, and Zone-tailed, White-tailed and Grey Hawks – we got them all!
Tour highlights were many coming at us on a daily basis and very difficult to choose from, but again the Frio Bat Cave was right up there and this year was closely matched by close-up and personal views of a pair of Ferruginous Pygmy-owls on a private ranch in the Rio Grande Valley.
Full details and a thoroughly good read can be found in Graig Fulcher's excellent trip report. Craig Holden contributed the Swainson's Warbler image on the trip report along with a number of images included in this year's gallery of images. Thanks very much to the two Craigs for their contribution, and to all our participants for taking part in this year's wonderful trip.
James P. Smith