King Ranch & Whooping Cranes: Apr 05—09, 2008

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Departs: Corpus Christi
Tour Limit: 14
Operations Manager: Edna Murray
Download Itinerary: PDF (77.6 KB)

Tour Leaders

Kim-eckert

Kim Eckert

Kim Eckert, with over 40 years of birding experience throughout the U.S. and Canada, has now...


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Whooping Crane

Whooping Crane — Photo: Greg Lasley

A brief introduction to the famous King Ranch, a vast and varied land with a wide selection of birds but relatively few visiting birders, followed by a day with Whooping Cranes and numerous other waterbirds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and around Corpus Christi.

The King Ranch, comprising 825,000 acres of grassland, thorn scrub, and live oak groves, has been owned since its founding by one family with a tradition of management for wildlife as well as cattle. This tour also includes another famous birding location—Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, where Whooping Cranes and a spectacular assemblage of other waterbirds may be seen.

We'll be spending time on three of the King Ranch's four divisions. The Santa Gertrudis Division is primarily pastured brushland with scattered trees surrounding stock ponds and small lakes. Typical birds include Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Least Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Anhinga, Harris's and White-tailed hawks, Crested Caracara, Wild Turkey, Greater Roadrunner, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Vermilion and Scissor-tailed flycatchers, Great Kiskadee, Cave Swallow, and Pyrrhuloxia.

We will also bird the Norias Division. There is a remarkable change in habitat here with large oak groves interspersed with grasslands. A more tropical influence at Norias is reflected by the presence of such birds as White-tipped Dove, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Couch's Kingbird, Green Jay, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, and Audubon's Oriole. Our primary focus, however, will be to find the two nesting specialties of Norias: the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and Tropical Parula, two of North America's rarest and most sought-after birds.

The tour concludes with a day-and-a-half in the coastal habitats of the Rockport area where we will see a fine selection of waterbirds including, of course, the famous Whooping Cranes of Aransas. Other species of note in this vicinity include Reddish Egret; White and White-faced ibis; Roseate Spoonbill; Clapper Rail; Piping and Snowy plovers; American Oystercatcher; Long-billed Curlew; Gull-billed, Sandwich, and Least terns; Black Skimmer; and Seaside Sparrow.

Only one motel change; leisurely half-day boat trip to Aransas Refuge included; birding both along roadsides and on relatively short walks; limited restaurant choices in Kingsville.