March 16th through 23rd, 2008

Participants: Blake Mathys, Kenneth Elgersma, and Ai Wen.

We drove from New Jersey to Texas, beginning birding at Aransas NWR on Sunday the 16th. We took one of the boat trips (link) to see the Whooping Cranes. The trip was $35/person and seemed to be worth it. We then drove down and camped at Adolph Thomae Jr. County Park (link) which was $15/night for tent camping. This is located to the north of the entrance to Laguna Atascosa NWR (link). We birded Laguna Atascosa on Monday the 17th, and then drove to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park (link) where we camped for three nights. The camping here was expensive, because they charge not only for the camping ($18/night) but also a daily entrance fee ($5/person), which means it cost the three of us a total of $99 to camp for three nights. I would think they could waive the entrance fee for those camping, or at least reduce it. We birded around Bentsen and visited Santa Ana NWR (link) and Estero Llano Grande State Park (link) during those three days. After this, it was time for Ai to leave us (she flew back to NJ as she had work to do), and Kenneth and I continued birding, driving toward Big Bend National Park and stopping at Salineņo, Falcon State Park (link), and the San Ygnacio Seedeater Park. We arrived at Big Bend (link) on Friday the 21st and backpacked for two nights in the Chisos Mountains. The entrance fee to Big Bend is $20 and a backcountry permit, good for 7 days I think, was $10. We left the park in the afternoon of Sunday the 23rd, and began the long drive back to New Jersey.

My total trip list for the state of Texas was 172 species (full species list at the end of the page). The species list would have been a little higher, but we were hampered by wind during the first three days (a consistent very strong east wind). Highlights included:


Aransas NWR:

.......Whooping Crane

.......Roseate Spoonbill

.......White-tailed Hawk


Laguna Atascosa NWR:

.......Buff-bellied Hummingbird

.......American Alligator


Multiple places in the valley:

.......Green Jay

.......Great Kiskadee

.......Plain Chachalaca

.......Altamira Oriole

.......White-tailed Kite

.......Harris's Hawk

.......White-tipped Dove

.......Long-billed Thrasher



.......Elf Owl

.......Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet

.......Gray Hawk


.......Collared Peccary

.......Texas Spiny Softshell Turtle


Estero Llano Grande State Park:

.......Green Kingfisher

.......Diamondback Water Snake



.......Audubon's Oriole

.......Clay-colored Robin

.......Cinnamon Teal


Big Bend:

.......Zone-tailed Hawk

.......Painted Redstart

.......Lark Bunting

.......Mexican Jay

.......Canyon Wren

Overall, it was a very successful trip. Following are a few scenery and bird pictures from the trip. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at blakemathys@hotmail.com.

Green Kingfisher

Whooping Crane

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Couch's Kingbird

Ringed Kingfisher


Ai looking for birds at Laguna Atascosa

Kenneth scoping for birds

Blake backpacking in Big Bend

Diamondback Water Snakes at Estero Llano Grande State Park

Big Bend

Big Bend

Big Bend

Big Bend

Big Bend


White-tailed Hawk

Green Kingfisher

Audubon's Oriole

Whooping Crane

Couch's Kingbird

Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet

Black-chinned Sparrow

Elf Owl

Lark Bunting

Common Loon

Eared Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

American White Pelican

Brown Pelican

Double-crested Cormorant

Neotropic Cormorant


Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Wood Duck


Mottled Duck


American Wigeon

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Green-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler


Lesser Scaup

Ring-necked Duck



Hooded Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Reddish Egret

Tricolored Heron

Cattle Egret

Green Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

White Ibis

White-faced Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


White-tailed Kite

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Harris's Hawk

Gray Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Swainson's Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Crested Caracara

American Kestrel

Peregrine Falcon

Plain Chachalaca

Northern Bobwhite

Clapper Rail

American Coot

Common Moorhen

Black-bellied Plover


American Oystercatcher

American Avocet

Black-necked Stilt

Greater Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

Solitary Sandpiper


Spotted Sandpiper

Long-billed Curlew

Ruddy Turnstone

Long-billed Dowitcher

American Herring Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Laughing Gull

Gull-billed Tern

Caspian Tern

Royal Tern

Sandwich Tern

Forster's Tern

Black Skimmer

Mourning Dove

White-winged Dove

Common Ground-Dove

Inca Dove

White-tipped Dove

Greater Roadrunner


White-throated Swift

Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Ringed Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Acorn Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Red-naped Sapsucker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Black Phoebe

Great Kiskadee

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Loggerhead Shrike

Hutton's Vireo

Mexican Jay

Green Jay

Common Raven

Chihuahuan Raven

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Violet-green Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Barn Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Cave Swallow

Black-crested Titmouse

Carolina Chickadee


White-breasted Nuthatch

Carolina Wren

Bewick's Wren

Cactus Wren

Rock Wren

Canyon Wren

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Townsend's Solitaire

Hermit Thrush

Clay-colored Robin

Northern Mockingbird

Long-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

Orange-crowned Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Painted Redstart


Northern Cardinal

Spotted Towhee

Canyon Towhee

Olive Sparrow

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Cassin's Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark

Common Grackle

Great-tailed Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Bronzed Cowbird

Altamira Oriole

Cassin's Finch

Least Grebe

Common Goldeneye



Nine-banded Armadillo

Mexican Ground Squirrel

Eastern Fox Squirrel

"Carmen Mountain" White-tailed Deer

Collared Peccary



Bottlenose Dolphin


Diamondback Water Snake

Texas Spiny Softshell

Red-eared Slider

American Alligator

Green Tree Frog

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