Visit this largest of the United States in April and you can expect to see a wide variety of migratory species as well as countless indigenous birds. Brazos Bend State Park is the perfect introduction where Anhingas, White Ibises, Roseate Spoonbills and Purple Gallinules occupy tranquil waterways, while Barred Owls and Pileated Woodpeckers can be found in the forests.
The Gulf Coast hosts multitudes of waders, egrets, herons, warblers and raptors and the Rio Grande Valley is home to Mexican specialities such as Altamira Oriole, Green Jay, Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Greater Roadrunner, not to mention an outstanding array of butterflies.
The scenic Edwards Plateau epitomises Texas hill-country and is home to Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-capped Vireo and a plethora of breeding wrens, sparrows and vireos, plus a 17 million-strong colony of Free-tailed Bats. Back at Galveston Island the tour finishes with a second chance of witnessing the waves of migration coming in across the Gulf from Yucatan.
Day 1: London – Houston – Angleton
You fly from London Heathrow directly to Houston where you’ll be met and taken approximately half an hour south of Houston to Angleton. Dependent on energy levels, you might like to have a look around for the first birds.
Day 2: Brazos Bend
The diversity of the habitats in Brazos Bend State Park naturally attracts a wide range of birds. Your first full day should produce waterbirds including breeding Anhinga, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill and Purple Gallinule while the woods are home to Barred Owl and the impressive Pileated Woodpecker. Mighty Alligators share the dykes with a host birds including cryptic American Bitterns and Swamp Sparrows which can be seen alongside flashing Common Yellowthroats and Prothonotary Warblers.
Stay: Two nights in the Best Western Angleton Inn.
Heading west and south brings you to the attractive little harbour town of Fulton, on the Gulf Coast where Common Loon, Eared Grebe, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead and Black Skimmer can be seen. A massive array of waders gather here including Wilson’s, Piping and Snowy Plovers plus Long-billed Curlew, not to mention a multitude of migratory warblers and raptors which arrive in spring. Aransas Bay offers birdwatching by boat with the chance to see Whooping Cranes, whilst Goose Island State Park and South Padre Island are magnets for migratory birds.
Stay: Three nights in the Waterfront Inn at Fulton Harbour.
Rio Grande Valley
Now it’s time for the Rio Grande on the border with Mexico and some fabulous birdwatching in Bentsen Rio Grande State Park, Estero Llano Grande State Park, Hidalgo and the Butterfly Centre. Here is your best chance for Pauraque, Altamira Oriole, Green Jay, Great Kiskadee, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Green Kingfisher, Northern Beardless Tyrranulet and Greater Roadrunner. For raptor enthusiasts the massed northward migration is spectacular and includes Swainson’s and Broad-winged Hawks and Mississippi Kites, whilst resident Harris’s Hawk, Gray Hawk and even Hook-billed Kite can be seen here.
Stay: Three nights in the Holliday Inn Express at Mission.
Roma Bluffs provides stunning views over the Rio Grande before you travel west to Falcon State Park, where you should encounter Cactus Wren, Black-throated Sparrow, Pyrrhuloxia and Roadrunner. Next you climb through the rolling hills to Edwards Plateau which specialises in Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-capped Vireo, Verdin, Black-chinned Hummingbirds and Cave Swallow. As spectacular a sight as the birds are the 17 million Free-tailed Bats that stream out of caves near Concan and are hunted by raptors including Cooper’s, Sharp-shinned and Red-tailed Hawks.
Stay: Three nights at Neale’s Lodge in Concan.
The culmination of your trip sees you on Galveston Island, exploring the birdwatching possibilities of Bolivar Flats, Laffite’s Cove, Galveston Island State Park, Corps Wood and East Beach. Here, with the right weather conditions, you may witness amazing ‘falls’ of warblers, tanagers, flycatchers and orioles plus waterfowl and waders – a fitting climax to your trip.
Stay: Three nights at Hampton Inn and Suites, on Galveston Island.
Galveston – Houston – London
Say farewell to Galveston Island and enjoy a relaxed journey to Houston to connect with your direct flight back to London, arriving early the next morning.