We invite you to join Wild Latitudes on our inaugural tour of one of the best birding regions in the United States: the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas!
As with all Wild Latitudes tours, we will take a light-hearted approach to our birding and nature exploration. We want everyone to have lots of fun, to learn new things, and to see wonderful animals, plants, and landscapes. We’ll keep a moderate pace while also maximizing our time in Texas.
The tour begins with our arrival at Corpus Christi International Airport. We’ll drive a short distance north to our lodging in Rockport, on the shore of Aransas Bay.
Today we get an early start and head north to explore Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. We’ll walk some short trails and drive the 9-mile auto tour loop in a leisurely fashion, stopping to identify birds and wildlife.
This morning we’ll enjoy an intimate 3-hour cruise north to explore the wild margins of Aransas Wildlife Refuge. We’ll have great opportunities to see dozens of bird species: shorebirds, waders, and raptors. We should get close-up looks at the Endangered Whooping Crane. After our cruise, and then drive south towards Brownsville. Time allowing, we may stop to do some birding at Port Aransas Nature Preserve. We’ll also check the bird feeders at the King Ranch Visitor Center.
This morning we head out early to visit Padre Island. At 113 miles from north to south, this is the world’s longest barrier island. We’ll visit the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. Up-close encounters with numerous bird species along the path make this a great place to stroll for a couple hours. After lunch we’ll take time to enjoy a stroll on the beach, look for some shorebirds, and dip our toes in the Gulf of Mexico.
We head off this morning to visit Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. This large refuge contains a unique mix of habitats, such as coastal prairie, thorn forest, and tidal flats. These habitats and the geography of the region make Laguna Atascosa a major migratory stopover for countless birds. There are plenty of resident and wintering birds here as well.
We’ll spend most of today exploring the habitats of Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. This is the headquarters of the World Birding Center. We’ll be on the lookout for more of the subtropical speciality birds of the Rio Grande Valley. Just around the corner is the National Butterfly Center. We’ll stop here in the afternoon to admire the free-flying butterflies among the flowers along the trails.
This morning, we make a journey 1.5 hours to the west, into the thornscrub ecosystem. This region is far less urbanized and is mostly a patchwork of large cattle ranches. We’ll visit the tiny Salineño Nature Preserve, close to the banks of the Rio Grande. A little further west is Falcon State Park. The habitat here is arid, almost desert-like.
Today we say our goodbyes—adios amigos!—and part company.
COST of TOUR: $2,645
START DATE: Feb 20, 2022
DURATION: 8 days
GROUP SIZE: Up to 12
TRIP FOCUS: Birds
Ivan Phillipsen, Co-owner of Wild Latitudes, is a passionate naturalist with a background in scientific research. He holds an M.S. in biology and a Ph.D. in zoology. Natural history is Ivan’s true passion and what he is most excited to teach to others. Although he is fascinated by just about every aspect of nature, Ivan is particularly fond of birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, plants, and geology. Everything is interconnected in nature and Ivan takes a holistic approach when teaching about the natural world.
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