IMPORTANT NOTE: information presented here is for general reference only. We are now excited to offer ALL set-departure trips through Borderland Tours!  Full details, travel itineraries, maps, and bird checklists for all trips are available upon request.  Visit www.borderland-tours.com for details, or simply email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 520-558-2351 for more info.

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“Big Bend National Park, West Texas: Colima Warbler, etc”
Leader: John Yerger
Tour offered on a custom basis only. Please contact us for details! Dates presented for reference only.

Big Bend National Park is one of the most remote birding hotspots in the United States, and also hosts some of the most spectacular scenery.  (Don’t take this trip if you want to avoid stunning sunsets!)  This is the only location in the United States where one can find the Colima Warbler, which will be the focus of one entire day of hiking.  This trip is ideal for those who want to see lots of birds and sightseeing on limited vacation time.  In several days jam-packed with birding, we will cover much of Big Bend, allowing one day on either side for travel to/from the park.  Riparian woodlands, Chihuahuan Desert thornscrub, cottonwood oasis, sotol grassland, and oak-juniper woodland are all habitats included within Park boundaries.  Lucifer Hummingbirds, Varied and Painted Buntings and Golden-fronted Woodpeckers are just some of the other specialties we will seek on this fun-filled birding adventure!

To sign up for this or any other Adventure Birding tour, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for a printable registration form, or call 520-495-0229 to have one mailed to you.

 

The road to the Chisos Mountains...



ITINERARY:

Day 1
Tour begins at 2:00 PM in Midland, TX.  Participants will be picked up at the Midland International Airport.  We will immediately drive to our lodging in at the edge of Big Bend National Park.  Since it's a 4.5 hour drive to the hotel, we may stop for any skylarking Cassin’s Sparrows or other birds of interest.  Night at Big Bend Resort in Terlingua.

Day 2
We’ll start early, driving down to the Rio Grande at dawn.  The riparian corridor here should be alive with birdsong!  Also at Rio Grande Village, both Gray Hawk and Common Black-Hawk have nested in years past.  Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Painted Bunting should be here, along with many other migrants and residents. Driving north from the river, we’ll make several stops including one at Dugout Wells.  This true desert oasis can host all kinds of migrants, as well as skulking residents like Crissal Thrasher.  Along the way we will no doubt encounter Varied Bunting.  Heading into the Chisos Basin for the afternoon, we’ll make an effort for Black-chinned Sparrow and other mid-elevation residents.  Night at Big Bend Resort in Terlingua.

Day 3
This is the day of the big hike!  We’ll spend all day making the 9.5 mile roundtrip hike to Boot Springs – birding like crazy the whole way, of course.  En route we will make a special effort for Colima Warbler, our main target for the trip.  We are close to their peak period of territorial singing, and thus should be able to expect some measure of success.  Blue-throated Hummingbird, Painted Redstart, Hepatic Tanager and other southwestern U.S. specialties should make appearances.  Many rare avian visitors from Mexico have been found here in the past, so there's no telling what else we may find!  Night at Big Bend Resort in Terlingua.

Day 4
Today we’ll investigate lower elevations again, checking scattered oases and migrant stopover sites such as Sam Nail Ranch and Cottonwood Campground.  A much shorter, more level hike (only 3-4 miles roundtrip) might be undertaken along the beautiful Blue Creek Canyon, depending on group interest in seeking Lucifer Hummingbird (if we haven’t seen this already), Gray Vireo and perhaps better views of Varied Bunting.  The impressive Santa Elena Canyon is also home to a resident pair of Peregrine Falcons.  Night at Big Bend Resort in Terlingua.

Day 5
This morning we’ll make the long drive back to the airport, again stopping for any birds of interest as time allows.  Tour concludes at noon in Midland, TX.  Participants will be dropped off at the Midland International Airport by the guide.


PACE:

This trip will be focused on finding as many of the specialty bird species as possible.  There will be several early mornings to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and high bird activity just after sunrise.

Participants should note that this trip includes a long day-hike (9.5 miles round trip) up to about 6,500 feet above sea level to look for Colima Warbler.  This is the only place in the U.S. where one might find it.  We will hike at a moderate pace, and make quite a lot of stops for birds along the way.  However, participants should be prepared for this hike, as it could be considered strenuous.  If we see the Warbler before reaching Boot Springs, there is always the option of turning around; however, participants must then be prepared to return on their own down the well-marked trail back to the Chisos Basin facilities, as the leader will continue on with the group.  During the rest of the trip, we will be on our feet quite a lot, but the walking will not be particularly strenuous.  One possible hike on the last day is much less strenuous, over a relatively level 3-4 miles round trip.  Also bear in mind that the Chisos Basin is situated at about 4,000 feet, so any walking in this area will be at that elevation.

Don’t let all of this scare you away; we simply want to be honest about what to expect!  Also, remember that ability is not determined by age alone.  Birders well beyond retirement age have made this hike with ease; meanwhile, younger folks should not overestimate their physical condition.  The leader a great deal of experience hiking with groups, and will set a pace that works for everyone.


TRIP COSTS:

Trip price is based on 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. The trip price includes van transportation from Midland International Airport (and transportation throughout the tour), all lodging, meals, guides, and park entry fees.

The following are not included: airfare to the starting point of the trip, alcoholic beverages, tips for the guides, and costs resulting from illness, injury, or emergency evacuation, program changes, and delays beyond our control.

To register for this tour, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 520-495-0229. A deposit of $200 per person is required to reserve a space on the trip. Full payment of the tour fee is due ninety days prior to the tour departure. If you have any questions, please contact us.


CANCELLATION POLICY:

Refunds are made as follows.

-Cancellations in writing made more than 90 days before departure will forfeit the deposit.
-Cancellations made 60 to 90 days before departure will forfeit 50% of the trip price.
-There is no refund for trips cancelled less than 60 days before departure. No trip substitutions can be made for cancellations. One name change allowed up to 21 days before departure.

It is highly recommended that you consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance to cover your financial investment in this trip.  A few examples of companies from which you can purchase such insurance are listed below:

http://www.csatravelpro.com/
http://www.travelinsured.com/
http://www.travelsafe.com/

In the rare event that the Adventure Birding Company must cancel a trip, 100% of all payments received to date will be refunded. The Adventure Birding Company is not responsible for non-refundable airfare or trip insurance.

Also note that your insurance company may not cover you for medical expenses incurred while traveling.  As such, you may wish to consider additional coverage provided by the same companies that offer trip cancellation insurance.


GENERAL TRIP INFORMATION:

Please note: this information is offered to give a general impression for what is to be expected for the listed trip.  If the reader requires any clarification or wishes for more detailed information, please do not hesitate to contact a representative of the Adventure Birding Company.  Please remember that we are not a travel agency, and as such will not be held liable for any errors or omissions made in the presentation of this information.

ENTERING THE COUNTRY: Non-U.S. citizens should check with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to learn about the latest requirements for travelers entering the United States.  Most travelers will only need a valid passport, but some may require a tourist visa.  Information for both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens may be found here: http://travel.state.gov/.

HEALTH: Generally speaking, west Texas does not pose any significant danger to visiting birdwatchers.  Primary hazard is sun exposure and dehydration.  Biting insects will not generally be a problem in the areas we will visit, but mosquitoes and ticks can occasionally be a nuisance; simple insect repellent is effective.  Scorpions, rattlesnakes, etc in this region are much talked-about by people who do not live in the southwestern U.S., but in actuality the danger is slim; our guide will instruct tour participants in proper precautions if necessary.

The Chisos Basin, where we will do some of our birding, is located at about 4,000 feet above sea level.  Our hike for the Colima Warbler, which is just under 10 miles round trip, traverses terrain from this elevation to about 6,500 feet.  Even folks who are physically fit can sometimes find breathing difficult (with great exertion) at 4,000 feet, but we have found that most people do not tend to have any issues below 7,000 or 8,000 feet.  See also the description of the hikes under “Pace.”


WEATHER: Relative humidity is very low here; it is important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.  (Plenty of water will be provided.)  The sun is very strong here; appropriate caution should be taken to prevent sunburns.  Temperatures at this time of year tend to range from 50º F in the morning to over 80º F during the day.  However, recent changes in climate have led to both late cold fronts and early heat waves at this time of year, so check the 10-day weather forecast before you pack your bags.  Rain is possible though unlikely, but all kinds of weather are possible at any season here.

CLOTHING: Be prepared for cool mornings down to the low 50’s F.  Also be prepared for the odd afternoon where it might reach 90º F.  Long pants, sturdy hiking footwear, and a broad-brimmed hat are all recommended.  Sun protection begins with clothing, but is enhanced by a sunscreen of 30 SPF or greater.  Evening dining is casual.

EQUIPMENT: Binoculars should be brought by the participant.  Trip leader will carry a spotting scope and tripod; it is not necessary for participants to bring one.  You may wish to bring a camera for 'souvenir' photos.  There may be limited opportunities for bird photography, but remember that the primary focus of this trip is to see the birds, not photograph them.

LODGING: We will spend all four nights at the Big Bend Resort in Terlingua.  It is clean and comfortable…and one of the very few options located at the edge of Big Bend National Park!  There is a small convenience store within close walking distance.

FOOD: There is a small Cafe adjacent to the Resort where we may take breakfast if convenient.  Since we will likely be driving to our first destination before the Cafe opens at 6:30AM, we will typically take “breakfast-in-a-box” to enjoy along the way.  Lunches will consist of healthful picnic food when our meals are taken in the field, but we will sample the cuisine just outside the park at Study Butte/Terlingua when we can.  Dinners will be provided by the Chisos Mountains Lodge Restaurant or at a local establishment in Study Butte/Terlingua.  Typical fare is Tex-Mex but there are a few other options on the menus.  Alcoholic beverages are not included in the price of the tour, but beer/wine is available at the restaurants.  If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know.

TRANSPORTATION: Transport to and from the Midland International Airport will be provided by the tour guide in the group tour van (or smaller vehicle if group size is three people or less).  Transportation throughout the tour will be provided in this same van.

SMOKING: Smoking is strictly prohibited in the vehicles or in close proximity to the group.  Smoking is permitted well downwind of the group in outdoor settings, unless otherwise dictated by the policies of the locations in which we are visiting; for example, if stringent fire restrictions are in effect at the Park.  If you are sharing a hotel room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room and be mindful of any cigarette odors that may travel with you into the room.

DETAILED INFORMATION PACKET: Each tour participant will receive a packet containing detailed information on all of our policies, as well as all remaining pertinent information for the trip (where/when the group will meet on the first day, specific locations of our hotels, etc).  This will be mailed several weeks in advance of our departure date.