WEST TEXAS AND NEW MEXICO WITH THE THREE ROSY FINCHES
2/11/2023 - 2/18/2023 | David Bradford & Brandon Percival
Four Participants Only (This Tour Is Full)
Here we go again, New Mexico and West Texas with only four participants. We are going to repeat our successful 2018, 2019, and 2022 tours in 2023. We will once again visit the famous Sandia Crest, home to the three Rosy-Finches, Brown-capped, Black, and Gray-crowned. For many years these hardy birds, and others, have come to seed feeders on Sandia Crest and here we plan to spend time viewing these high elevation, nomadic birds. Species other than the finches that we hope to see at the feeders include Hairy Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadee, Steller’s Jay, Cassin’s Finch and others. Weather conditions in the Sandia Crest area might alter our plans.
Sandia Crest is near Albuquerque, NM. and while in the area we plan to visit other nearby locations like Rio Grande Nature Center State Park that harbors many birds year-round. There should be plenty of species to view along the well-maintained trails and in the numerous small ponds present in this lovely city park. An early morning walk up Eubudito Canyon will prove great for an introduction to some desert birds like Canyon Towhee, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Cactus Wren, and Black-throated Sparrow to name a few. Petroglyphs National Monument is also good for desert scrub birds such as Curve-billed Thrasher, Rock Wren, and Sagebrush Sparrow. After two nights in Albuquerque, we will work our way south toward Texas, however, we will spend two nights in Socorro, NM allowing us the opportunity to visit Bosque del Apache NWR.
While at Bosque del Apache NWR we should have good looks at plenty of Snow and Ross’s Geese along with numerous Sandhill Cranes. In addition to these birds there will be plenty of other birds for us to view on the refuge. The refuge is located along the Rio Grande River in New Mexico and provides different habitats that will attract different species of birds. There is riparian habitat along the river, flooded wetlands, upland agriculture fields, and the nearby desert. This mix of habitats should ensure us a nice mix of bird species. We will take the fifteen mile loop through the refuge in search for other species such as Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Gambel’s Quail, Black Phoebe, and Greater Roadrunner. In addition to the refuge, we plan to spend time birding other areas of New Mexico including Percha Dam State Park and Caballo Lake State Park, these two locations can be very productive.
In El Paso, a border city sitting in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains, we will visit wetlands, mountains, and portions the Chihuahuan Desert. Species we hope to see in the mountains in El Paso area include White-throated Swift, Golden Eagle, Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay, Rock and Bewick’s Wren, Spotted and Green-tailed Towhees. In the wetlands we should see Eared Grebe, ducks, herons, egrets, Brewer’s and Yellow-headed Blackbird. Desert birds will be a major attraction as we search for Say’s Phoebe, Horned Lark, Chihuahuan Raven, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Verdin, Cactus Wren, Crissal and Sage Thrasher, Black-chinned, Black-throated, and Brewer’s Sparrows, Pyrrhuloxia, and Western Meadowlark. On occasions we visit private property view wintering hummingbirds and other rare birds, if any are present.
The cost of the tour is $1,950 for double occupancy and a supplement of $550 for a single room. A $500 deposit is needed to hold your spot on this tour. Most meals are covered in the cost of the tour. This tour is designed to take just four participants, no more.
To save miles of driving, we plan to fly into El Paso and out of Albuquerque. For additional information scroll down and see the 2018, 2019, and 2022 Species Seen List and Written Summary of our past tours.
Please contact David Bradford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-744-6486 if you call, leave a message and I will call back. Or sent me a text and I will respond.
LESSER PRAIRIE CHICKEN ALONG WITH KANSAS AND COLORADO BIRDS
4/12/23 - 4/15/23 David Bradford & Brandon Percival
Four Participants Only (This Tour is Full)
This four-client tour is designed to see Lesser Prairie-Chickens and visit sights in Denver and Kansas. Mid April through late April is the best time to see Lesser Prairie-Chickens displaying on their ancestral leks, breeding grounds that the birds visit year after year. The number of Lesser Prairie-Chickens is in rapid decline from habitat loss, predation, and young being killed by fire ants. If you want to see these birds perform their amazing “dances” this is the tour for you. Kansas is one of the last strongholds for this declining species.
Time will be spent looking for birds other than Lesser Prairie-Chickens. We will visit Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge near the Denver Airport and quite a few spots as we work out way to Oakley, KS.
We will fly in and out of Denver on this short Lesser Prairie-Chicken Tour. One night in Denver, one night in Oakley, KS., and one night back in Denver.
A deposit of $500 is needed to secure a spot. The cost of this four-client tour for double occupancy is $1100. For single occupancy add $175.
Please let me know if you have any questions. If you want to secure one of the four spots please send your $500 deposit check, made out to David Bradford, to 18046 Green Hazel Dr. Houston, TX. 77084.
If you have any questions please contact David at email@example.com or 281 744 6486 and leave a message and he will call back or send a text.
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK AND THE COLIMA WARBLER
April 27 – May 4, 2023 David Bradford and Brandon Percival
FOUR PARTICIPANTS ONLY (This Tour is Full)
Big Bend National Park is one of my favorite locations in the US and is a must National Park to visit for scenery and stark beauty. However, for birders there is another reason to visit this park that sits in the big bend of the Rio Grande River, and that is the Colima Warbler. Though wide ranging in Mexico, the Colima Warbler occurs in the US only in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park. Spending four nights in the park will allow us ample time to visit not only the high mountains for the warbler, but other less visited locations within this wonderful park.
The Colima Warbler can be found in pine oak canyons above 6,000 feet in elevation. It is larger than most warblers and tends to move a bit slower than most warblers, more like a vireo in a way. It is usually heard by Brandon first then seen by the remainder of the group. We will bird a few other locations in the days before our early morning hike into the high Chisos Mountains allowing us to acclimate a bit to elevation We will use the Chisos Mountain Lodge, which is nestled in the Basin at just over 5,000 feet, as our base of operations to explore the Chisos Mountains and Big Bend National Park.
There are many areas in the park to bird and enjoy and we will visit as many as possible. Lowland locations like Cottonwood Campground, Rio Grande Village, Sam Nail Ranch, Dugout Wells, and Blue Creek Canyon can be good for Gray Hawk, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Verdin, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Cactus Wren, Bell Vireo, Curve-billed and Crissal Thrasher, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Canyon Towhee, Black-throated Sparrow, Lucy’s Warbler, Scott’s Oriole, and Varied Bunting. We will visit the lowlands in the morning and retreat to higher elevation in the basin for cooler temps and Mexican Jays, Phainopepla, White-throated Swift, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Acorn Woodpecker, Hutton’s Vireo, Spotted Towhee, Painted Redstart, Hepatic Tanager, and more.
In the evening we hope to locate Western Screech and Elf Owls along with hearing Common Poorwill and Mexican Whip-poor-will. On occasions we hear coyotes calling, see rattlesnakes and tarantulas on this tour.
The cost of the tour for double occupancy is $2,750 and includes most meals. Single occupancy is an additional $750 per person. A deposit of $750 is needed to hold your spot on this tour.
Deposit checks can be mailed to David Bradford at 18046 Green Hazel Dr., Houston, TX. 77084. If you have any questions please contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281 744 6486 and leave a message and he will call back or send a text.
SOUTHERN IDAHO AND THE CASSIA CROSSBILL
6/4/2023 - 6/10/2023 | David Bradford & Brandon Percival
Four Participants Only (Two Spaces Remain)
This trip is designed to allow us the opportunity to seek out the Cassia Crossbill, which is found mostly in a few isolated areas of Southern Idaho, though some have recently been found in northern Colorado. I have expanded this tour by one night to allow for extra Idaho birding. We expect to see a wide variety of species and some nice scenery.
Though our target species is Cassia Crossbill we will see plenty of other birds and once we have seen the crossbill we will spend time enjoying the other birds and scenery of Southern Idaho. We have found the crossbill on our three previous tours, and though they are getting a little harder to find they have expanded their range a little to include a few areas we visit while looking at other Idaho birds.
Some possible nesting waterfowl we expect to see include Cinnamon Teal, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Lesser Scaup, and Common Merganser. Seeing ducks on their breeding grounds is always a treat. There is the possibility of spotting one or both large grebes, Western and Clark’s. Hummingbirds expected include Black-chinned, Calliope and Broad-tailed along with woodpeckers like Red-naped Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Hairy Woodpecker. For empidonax flycatchers we hope to see and hear Hammond’s, Dusky, Gray, and Cordilleran. Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, and Black-capped and Mountain Chickadees should be calling and visible at this time of year along with the beautiful Western and Mountain Bluebirds. In the sage we expect to see Sage Thrasher and Brewer’s Sparrow. We hope to find Yellow, Yellow-rumped, and Townsend’s Warblers, with MacGillivray’s as a possibility. Green-tailed and Spotted Towhee, Vesper, Song, Lincoln, and Fox Sparrows could be found in their appropriate habitat.
On previous tours we have had nice encounters with raptors including Swainson’s, Red-tailed, and Ferruginous Hawks, Prairie Falcon, Ospreys, and Northern Harrier. The South Hills of Idaho have some of the densest populations of Northern Goshawk in the country and we hope to encounter one of these elusive avian predators. Colorful Black-headed Grosbeaks, Western Tanagers, Yellow-breasted Chat, Lazuli Bunting, and Cassin’s Finches are expected as well.
This tour provides an opportunity to see a newly created species and the wonders of a sparsely populated state that is dotted with lava flows, rugged mountains, and beautiful streams. We will limit this tour to no more than four participants.
Fee: The cost of the tour for double occupancy is $2,650 and includes most meals. Single occupancy is an additional $600 per person.
Deposit: A deposit of $500 is needed to hold a spot on this tour.
WINTER IN SE ARIZONA
January 6 - 12, 2024| David Bradford & Brandon Percival
Four Participants Only (Four Spaces Remain)
We have led bird tours to SE Arizona numerous times in the Spring/Summer/Fall, but not in the winter. Brandon has birded in SE Arizona in the winter quite a bit while visiting family and building his Arizona state list. There is an area west of Phoenix that is a traditional breeding ground for the very local and secretive LeConte’s Thrasher that we will visit as we look for this hard-to-find species. January is the start of the nesting season for LeConte’s Thrasher, and they tend to be more vocal at this time of year hopefully allowing us to track one down.
While looking for the thrasher we hope to find Anna’s and Costa’s Hummingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Verdin, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Sagebrush Sparrow, and Abert’s Towhee. There are other birdy areas around Phoenix like Gilbert Water Ranch, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and a few smaller parks. At Gilbert Water Ranch we will be looking for winter ducks and more wintering ducks, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, American White Pelican, herons and egrets, Curve-billed Thrasher, and Abert’s Towhee. There is no telling what will be at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, the location where Brandon saw is lifer Rufous-backed Robin, but expected birds include Gila Woodpecker, Cactus Wren, Verdin, Black-throated Sparrow, Phainopepla, and Abert’s Towhee.
After two nights in the Phoenix area, we will head to the Tucson area for our last four nights. Here we will visit several small, but birdy parks in and around Tucson. Sweetwater Wetlands should allow a very close study of numerous ducks, Black Phoebe, Verdin, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, and Pyrrhuloxia. We will also spend time birding the grasslands to the south and east of Tucson as well as other “water holes” within the Sonoran Desert. In the grasslands we will look for raptors including Northern Harrier, Harris’s, Red-tailed, Ferruginous Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, and Prairie Falcon. Elsewhere we also hope to track down Acorn Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Gray Flycatcher, Vermilion Flycatcher, Bridled Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bewick’s Wren, Crissal Thrasher, Hermit Thrush, and Western Bluebird.
If you are looking for a bird filled tour with hopefully mild temps this is the tour for you. We will be staying in two hotels and driving to the necessary bird locations.
The cost of this four person, six night tour is $1950 for double occupancy with an additional $550 for single occupancy. The cost of the tour covers most meals, though meals are no longer a major production, but a more relaxed and casual affair.
To save time driving we plan to fly into Phoenix and out of Tucson.
A deposit of $500 is needed to hold your spot on this winter tour. Please mail your check to David Bradford 18046 Green Hazel Dr., Houston, TX. 77084
RIO GRANDE VALLEY OF TEXAS
February 3 - 7, 2024| David Bradford & Brandon Percival
Four Participants Only (Four Spaces Remain)
As winter maintains a firm and icy grip on most of the US, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas can be pleasant and loaded with not only resident and winter birds, but possibly a handful of vagrants slipping across the border. We will use Harlingen as our base of operations, staying in just one hotel and making bird excursions to the east and west. We will focus on the lower and middle Valley, not the upper Valley, therefore no Falcon Dam area.
This short tour allows us to focus on areas in a rather close geographical area that might include Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP, Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, Estero Llano Grande SP, Frontera Audubon, Oliveira Park, Santa Ana NWR, and Quinta Mazatlan. Bird distribution will determine which of these marvelous birding locales we will visit. Our efforts will be focused on finding Valley specialties like Plain Chachalaca, Least Grebe, White-tipped Dove, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Harris’s Hawk, Ringed and Green kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Black-crested Titmouse, Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird, Green Jay, Long-billed Thrasher, Clay-colored Thrush, Olive Sparrow, and Altimira Oriole. There are always a few wintering warblers, and usually a vagrant or two present like Rose-throated Beccard, White-throated Robin, Crimson-collared Grosbeak, or Blue Bunting. However, the appearance of these rarities varies from year to year and there is no telling which, if any, will be present while we are in the Valley. As we look for Valley specialties, we will also be looking for rarities.
This is a short trip that does not include the upper Valley. We will keep our travel distances reasonable and spend a lot of time in the field birding.
Fee: The cost of the tour for double occupancy is $1,800 and includes most meals. Single occupancy is an additional $400 per person. See my website for a list of birds seen previously.
Deposit: A deposit of $500 is needed to hold a spot on this tour. Deposit checks can be mailed to David Bradford 18046 Green Hazel Dr. Houston, TX. 77084 281 744 6486 leave message or text.