These stunning birds are a special feature of the regular falls of migrants that take place at High Island and other hotspots along the Texas Gulf Coast every April and our Spring trip is timed to coincide with this annual spectacle. Even in an ‘average’ year there is so much to see, with bright splashes of yellow, orange, gold, black, green and blue flitting through the freshly leafing trees, as we thrill at a host of avian gems making landfall after crossing the Gulf of Mexico. On our previous tours, we have found as many as 25 different species of warbler in a single visit to one small wood. This truly is birding at its best!
Passerine migration isn’t, however, the only excitement that awaits birders visiting the Texan coast in Spring as Bolivar’s famous tidal flats combined with Anahuac’s bird-rich marshes and rice paddies offer up to 30 species of shorebirds. These can include such beauties as breeding-plumaged Buff-breasted and Stilt Sandpipers, whilst more familiar Sanderlings and Red Knots rub shoulders with scurrying parties of Semipalmated Plovers, Black-necked Stilts and rusty-necked American Avocets. We will also watch Reddish Egrets chasing through the shallows and admire snazzy Tricoloured Herons and Purple Gallinules as American Alligators ‘yawn’ beside the trail.
Come April, the breeding season will already be in full swing for many of the Lone Star State’s resident birds and the frenetic activity of breeding egrets, herons and Roseate Spoonbills at the High Island rookery is yet another treat to enjoy.
As a prelude to all this excitement, however, our April birding tour begins with a two-night stay in Houston, right on the doorstep of the region’s Southern forests. This is woodpecker country par excellence, with the cartoon-like Pileated and stunning Red-headed Woodpeckers among many to look for, as we also go in search of dazzling Eastern Bluebirds and Yellow-breasted Chats. We shall also be making a special effort to find two range-restricted species that occur only in the south-eastern United States: the dwindling Red-cockaded Woodpecker and elfin Brown-headed Nuthatch.
Our April birding tour is timed to coincide with the peak of the spring migration spectacle on the Texas Gulf Coast, just as the venerable Live Oaks are bursting into leaf and when the turnover of warblers and other migrants can be truly astounding. Everyone will have their own particular favourite: perhaps the fiery male Blackburnian, the startling ‘egg yolk headed’ Prothonotary or maybe the skulking Kentucky.
Guide Chris Charlesworth lives in North America and is a veteran of numerous Texas tours. He rates the Texas Gulf Coast as one of his favourite birding destinations in all North America and our April 2022 birdwatching tour to Texas will be his 15th trip there for Limosa.
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