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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“Lower Rio Grande Valley: Rarities and Specialties”
Leader: John Yerger
Tour offered on a custom basis only. Please contact us for details! Dates presented for reference only.

This is a shorter version of our regular South Texas tour, designed for birders with limited vacation time.  Consequently, we will not see quite as many species as our longer tour - but we'll see most of them! The primary focus of this trip will be to seek the rarest species on our side of the "Rio Bravo del Norte," as it is called in Mexico.  In recent years, this list has included Crimson-collared Grosbeak, Blue Bunting and Black-vented Oriole.  There's no way to know what avian vagrants may await, but there's always something interesting!

We'll also stand a good chance of finding rare residents such as Hook-billed Kite, Clay-colored Thrush and White-collared Seedeater.  What's more, we'll still be visiting the locales where resident specialties like Least Grebe, Green and Ringed Kingfishers, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Great Kiskadee, Green Jay and Altamira Oriole can be found.  We’ll explore such classic hotspots as Sabal Palm Sanctuary (one of the last remaining palm forests in the U.S.), Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Frontera Audubon Thicket, and other lesser-known local secrets.

Our itinerary is designed to be flexible enough to chase any rarities that are reported during our trip.  The sample itinerary provided below is subject to change at any time prior to (or during) the trip.  We'll do a fair amount of driving and put in some long days, but you won't need to worry about packing up your bags every morning!

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.

 

Altamira Oriole



ITINERARY:

Day 1
Arrive at Harlingen International Airport by 2:00pm. We'll drive to Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary for our first rush of South Texas specialties!  Resident species like Green Jay, White-tipped Dove, and Plain Chachalaca abound.  This has also been a good area in the past for rarer residents like Clay-colored Thrush, and vagrants such as Yellow-green Vireo and Crimson-collared Grosbeak.  We'll then drive to our hotel in McAllen, where we will be based for the remainder of the trip.  Night in McAllen.

Day 2
Our general plan will be to start at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, moving to the Weslaco area after lunch.  Hotspots may include Frontera Audubon Thicket, where rarities such as White-throated Thrush and Blue Mockingbird have appeared; perhaps Edinburg Scenic Wetlands where Green Kingfisher, Fulvous Whistling-Duck and other specialties often occur.  This will put us in a good position to track down flocks of Red-crowned Parrots and/or Green Parakeets around dinner time.  Night in McAllen.

Day 3
This morning will be spent exploring Estero Llano Grande, one of the World Birding Center locations and a great place for both land- and wetland-based specialties.  The afternoon will be left open for rarity chasing or further specialty birding in the area.  Night in McAllen.

Day 4
Sunrise birding at Salineño can be unbeatable!  This is one of the most reliable places for the very rare Red-billed Pigeon and Muscovy Duck, and although Brown Jay has become unreliable, it may yet return to this hotspot.  Feeders here attract Audubon's Oriole.  We'll then work our way towards Zapata, where we hope to track down a White-collared Seedeater or two.  Night in McAllen.

Day 5
Flexible morning available for rarity chasing or general birding before departure, perhaps at nearby Quinta Mazatlan where Olive Sparrow and Long-billed Thrasher are practically routine.  Tour concludes at noon in Harlingen, TX.  Participants will be dropped off at the Harlingen International Airport by the guide.


PACE:

This trip will be focused on finding as many rare and 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.  Despite jam-packing the days full of birding, we'll try not to rush too quickly from place to place.  We'll still take time to savor each bird as fully as needed!


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 Harlingen 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, south Texas does not pose any significant danger to visiting birdwatchers.  Primary hazards are sun exposure and insects in the form of mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers.  Insects will not generally be a problem in the areas we will visit, but can occasionally be a nuisance.  Insect repellent can be useful.

WEATHER: Temperatures at this time of year tend to range from 60º F in the morning to about 80º F during the day.  However, recent changes in climate have led to both late freezes and early heat waves at this time of year, so check the 5-day weather forecast before you pack your bags.  Rain and/or wind are possible at any time.

CLOTHING: Be prepared for the occasional cool day down to the low 50’s F.  Also be prepared for the odd afternoon where it might approach 90º F.  Long pants, sturdy shoes, and a broad-brimmed hat are all recommended.  Sun protection begins with clothing, but is enhanced by a sunscreen of 30 SPF or greater.  And don't worry - our restaurants won't require your best evening formalwear.

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 select hotels that are clean and comfortable with good reputations.

FOOD: Each of our hotels will provide a continental-style breakfast.  Lunches will consist of healthful picnic food when our meals are taken in the field, but may be provided in standard restaurants if our daily itinerary allows.  Dinners will be provided in standard restaurants with a focus on local cuisine (Mexican-American, steakhouses, etc).  Alcoholic beverages are not included in the price of the tour.  If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know.

TRANSPORTATION: Transport to and from the Harlingen International Airport will be provided by the tour guide in the group tour van.  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.  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.