Archive for November, 2013

Altamira_Oriole_IMG_9329Whether this is your first or fifteenth trip to The Valley, it will be a fun and exciting trip with many beautiful birds and unique plants and scenery to enjoy. Photo opportunities will abound on this tour, so bring your cameras!

The Lower Rio Grande Valley is a birder’s haven with great birding year round. December, though, is one of the best months to visit, because uncommon-to-rare Mexican species often show up and the weather is nice.

This five day and four nights tour will have a relaxed pace with time to observe, enjoy and photograph. To visit all of the area’s birding spots, we would need at least ten days, so we will concentrate on prime birding spots in the eastern and central part of the valley which have the most species or key birds we want to see.

Birds We Hope to See

 Some of the species that we will look for include Aplomado Falcon (rare), Harris’s Hawk, Gray Hawk, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Tropical Kingbird, Chihuahuan Raven, Long billed Thrasher, Clay-colored Thrush (rare), Altamira Oriole (uncommon), Blue-headed Vireo, and Nashville and Black-throated Gray Warblers (rare).

Resident birds we will look for include Plain Chachalaca, Green Jay, Great Kiskadee, Orioles, Green and Ringed Kingfishers, Scaled Quail, Pyrrhuloxia, Black throated Sparrow, Audubon’s Orioles, and Red-billed Pigeon (rare). Less common but possible birds include Verdin, Cactus Wren, and Curve-billed thrasher, among many other species.

We should see hundreds of Redheads as Laguna Atascosa, as it is a prime winter area for this species. Also, we will spend some time at Laguna-Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge looking for shorebirds, waterfowl, gulls, & terns.

A more comprehensive list of Valley birds will be provided participants. We could see over 100 species, but our objective is not a whirl wind trip to rack up a high count.


On day one, we will meet in central Houston at 6:30 a.m.  and depart soon thereafter. We will stop at locations known for wintering Raptors and other good birding spots as we enter the brush country.

Over the trip days, we will visit Laguana Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, South Padre Island, Santa Ana wildlife refuge, Estero Llano Grande State Park, and Bentson State Park, among other exciting birding locations. We will let the birds determine our exact itinerary–in other words, we will base our decisions of where to bird on recent sitings. We will keep our schedule somewhat flexible in order to take advantage not just of rare bird sightings, but also the weather and other factors that could affect the birding. One night we may go look for owls, common parauque, and other nocturnal animals, if there is interest.

Tuesday December 10, after breakfast we will visit local sites before heading back to Houston. We should arrive in Houston around 4:00 pm.

General Information and PricingAplomado_Falcon_IMG_9562_

We will have breakfast at the hotel and head out to bird most days between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. We will stop for lunch at good restaurants we find along the way, and have dinner at great restaurants. We will vary the fare, according to group preferences. Unlike many other tours, ours is small and we will have an opportunity to get acquainted  and enjoy the flexibility and comfort of traveling in a small group.

Do bring comfortable walking shoes. We will not be doing any hiking, but will be walking slowly every day. The weather in the valley is highly variable–it will most likely be cool in the mornings and evenings and warm during the day.

I will provide drinking water, and light snacks, but you are welcome to bring your favorite snacks. Naturally, bring items you need for personal comfort, optics, field guides, and camera equipment. Meeting location for departure and other details will be provided registered participants.

Included in the tour package is van transportation costs to and from Houston, hotel room at double occupancy for four nights, continental breakfast for four days, drinking water and light snacks during the day, a great scope, driving and guide services. Excluded items include meals other than those included with room, tips, alcohol, personal items, and other expenses. Minimum number required for the trip to take place is four.

Tour Fee is only $ 945.00 per person for double occupancy and a minimum of 4 people.

We will attempt to pair you with a roommate of the same gender if you choose, but if this is not possible you will be charged the single supplement fee.

If you prefer a single occupancy room, i.e a private room, the fee is $ 1125.00.

To register, call me at the number below to confirm that you plan to go, and then snail-mail a non-refundable deposit of $100 per person. Full payment of the tour fee is due by December 01.

Please send deposit to this address:

Glenn Olsen
P.O. Box 842322
Houston, TX 77284-2322

Call me or email me if you have any questions. It’s going to be a fun trip, and I hope you can come! Thanks for your interest, and happy birding,



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