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Seagulls

Upcoming Bird Tours

See below the scheduled upcoming tours.

EL PASO AND THE DAVIS MOUNTAINS/RENOVATED INDIAN LODGE 2024

April 20-27, 2024| David Bradford & Brandon Percival

Four Participants Only (This Tour Is FULL)

Difficulty Level - Easy walking. No long hikes.

 

Any of the mountain ranges in West Texas during spring migration can be a wonderful place to bird, and we will bird the Davis and Franklin Mountains. But here is the catch, we are going to be staying in the newly renovated Indian Lodge in the heart of the Davis Mountains. Sitting at 5,200 feet in elevation the lodge was originally built by the CCC in the 1930s, further expanded and updated in 1967, and renovated again in 2023. I have been going to the Indian Lodge since the late 1980s and Brandon and I have used the lodge for bird tours many times over the past twenty years. However, we have not been there since the 2023 renovations, duh. So, let’s go check out the new digs and see some birds, maybe a lot of birds.

 

In El Paso we will bird tree lined parks, desert scrub, the mountains, maybe a private home, and a few bodies of water. If we are lucky, we will find time to visit a wastewater treatment facility. You just never know. This makes for a wide variety of habitats within a small geographic area, and El Paso seems to produce interesting birds year after year. At Memorial Park we hope to encounter migrants like Cassin’s and Warbling Vireo, Bullock’s Oriole, Yellow, Black-throated Gray, Townsend’s, Hermit, Virginia’s and Wilson’s Warblers, and Lazuli and Indigo Buntings. In the desert scrub locations Swainson’s Hawk, Gambel’s Quail, Western Kingbird, Bell’s Vireo, Chihuahuan Raven, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Rock, Canyon, and Cactus Wrens, Curve-billed and Crissal Thrashers, Brewer’s, Black-throated, and Lark, Sparrows. At some of the water locations like Keystone Heritage Park and Crossroads Pond we should encounter many duck species, including Wood Duck and Cinnamon Teal, Common Gallinule, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Western Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, Solitary Sandpiper, Franklin’s Gull, White-faced Ibis, and both yellowlegs and both cormorants. If we can, we will visit a private residence for Black-chinned, Anna’s, Rufous, and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds. With that said, remember migration in the west, like in the east, can be influenced by weather conditions and sometimes there are few migrants present.  

 

After a full day of birding en route to the Davis Mountains we will reach the newly renovated Indian Lodge where we will spend the next three nights. This will allow us ample time to drive/bird the scenic loop, bird the state park and other locations in and around the Davis Mountains. In the mountains we hope to find Common Poorwill, Common Black Hawk, Acorn and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Western Wood-Pewee, Gray Flycatcher, Say’s Phoebe, Cassin’s Kingbird, Black-crested Titmouse, Bushtit, Bewick’s Wren, Phainopepla, Lesser Goldfinch, Rufous-crowned and Black-chinned Sparrows, Nashville and MacGillivray’s Warblers, Scott’s Oriole, Hepatic, Summer, and Western Tanagers, and Black-headed Grosbeak. In the surrounding grasslands we will look for Western Bluebird, Clay-colored, Black-chinned, and Vespers. If we are lucky, we might encounter the new species of meadowlark, Chihuahuan Meadowlark. The Montezuma Quail have been extremely difficult to locate in the Davis Mountains, however, if they are coming to the seed feeders in the park, we will try to see them. If they are not coming to the seed feeders, finding Montezuma Quail is very unlikely.

 

This is a wonderful time to be in West Texas seeing the sights and looking for lingering winter birds, migrant birds, and resident birds. Sounds like the perfect storm so to speak.

 

The cost of the tour is $2,450 for double occupancy and a supplement of $550 for a single room. A $500 deposit is needed to hold your spot on this tour. The cost of the tour covers most meals, though meals are no longer a major production, but a more relaxed and casual affair. This tour will take just four participants.

 

To hold a spot on this tour, please mail your deposit check of $500 to David Bradford 18046 Green Hazel Dr. Houston, TX. 77084

A Slice of California

June 4 – 13, 2024/ Bradford/Percival

Four Participants Only (Two Spots Remain)

 

I have led four bird tours to Southern California, with Brandon co-leading on the last three. These tours were winter tours during December, January, and February ranging from San Diego to San Jose. However, Brandon has relatives in San Diego and has been there quite often visiting family, well really birding, and seeing family members in between bird outings. We are switching things up on this tour and will be going during spring migration looking for residents and of course the many specialty birds California has to offer, and there are many. California, with its varied habitats and large area, does indeed have many specialty birds. On this tour we will cover a large area of Southern California, see a wide variety of habitats, and see numerous birds with an emphasis on those with restricted ranges along our route. I have underlined the specialty birds in this write up we will be looking for while in California as we also enjoy the more common and widespread birds of the area.

 

Our route will take us from the coast near San Diego, through the Anza Borrego Desert and state park of the same name, inland to the drying up Salton Sea, up Mt. Pinos to over 8,000 feet in elevation, to the dry San Joaquin Valley and back to the coast near Santa Barbara for a boat trip out to Santa Cruz Island for Island Scrub-Jay. We will fly into San Diego and out of Santa Barbara like we did in 2004.

 

On our first day we will bird areas in and around San Diego looking for California Quail, White-throated Swift, Anna’s and Allen’s Hummingbird, Ridgeway’s Rail, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Whimbrel, Long-billed Curlew, Western Gull and California Gull, Elegant Tern, Acorn and Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Black and Say’s Phoebe, Bell’s and Hutton’s Vireo, California Scrub-Jay, Wrentit, California Gnatcatcher, California Thrasher, Phainopepla, California Towhee, Hooded Oriole, Yellow and Townsend’s Warbler, and Black-headed Grosbeak. This should be a fun day filled with numerous species as we work some of the better hotspots in San Diego County.

 

As we move inland through the Anza-Borrego Desert to the large Anza-Borrego State Park we will encounter drier scrub like habitat and different species of bird. Here we will look for Greater Roadrunner, Costa’s Hummingbird, Western Wood-Pewee, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Verdin, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Cactus Wren, Black-throated Sparrow, Nashville Warbler, and Western Tanager.

 

Eventually we will bird the southern portion of the Salton Sea, a body of water that formed because of the Colorado River breaking through an irrigation dike in 1905 and flowing unchecked out of its banks for two years forming what is now the Salton Sea. Here we will look for ducks, Eared, Western and Clark’s Grebe, Lesser Nighthawk, Red-necked Phalarope, Black Skimmer, Burrowing Owl, Western Kingbird, swallows, Marsh Wren, and Abert’s Towhee. I had my life Abert’s Towhee at Sonny Bono Unit of the Salton Sea NWR in August of 1988.

 

From the Salton Sea we will work our way north heading toward Mt. Pinos in the Los Padre National Forest where we will look for high elevations like Band-tailed Pigeon, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Hairy and White-headed Woodpecker, Dusky Flycatcher, Steller’s Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, Violet-green Swallow, Pygmy Nuthatch, Fox Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, and breeding plumaged Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warbler.

 

As we work our way back to the coast, we will make a stop at Petroleum Road to look for LeConte’s Thrasher and Bell’s Sparrow, both elusive birds of the desert scrub.

 

In the Santa Barbara area, we will look for Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Oak Titmouse, Tricolored Blackbird, and time will be spent looking for the small number of Yellow-billed Magpies that remain in the area. As we have done in the past, we will use Island Packers to get us out to Santa Cruz Island and enroute to the island we will look for Pacific Loon, Pigeon Guillemot, Sooty Shearwater, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklet, and more. They usually drop us off at Prisoner’s Cove and from here we have a pretty good chance of locating Island Scrub-Jay along with Orange-crowned Warbler and Allen’s Hummingbird.

 

This is a long tour that covers many different habitats, and we will see a wide variety of species. Time will be devoted to finding the many California specialties that Southern California has to offer.

 

The cost of this four person, ten night tour is $4,350 per person for double occupancy with an additional fee of $850 for a single supplement. The cost of the tour covers most meals. However, meals are no longer a major production, but a more relaxed and casual affair. Sometimes I will place a to go order and we will relax in the hotel lobby as we eat and complete our daily checklists.

 

We will fly into San Diego (SAN) and out of Santa Barbara (SBA).

 

Please let me know if you are interested in this tour. We are only taking four individuals as we look for the many species of Southern California.

SOUTHERN IDAHO AND THE CASSIA CROSSBILL 

July 16 – 21, 2024

David Bradford and Brandon Percival

 

FOUR PARTICIPANTS ONLY

This trip is designed to allow us the opportunity to seek out the recently split crossbill species, Cassia Crossbill, which is found only in a localized area of Southern Idaho. These difficult to identify birds are found only in the South Hills and Albion Mountains of Idaho and we will visit these locations as needed. The good news about a localized species is there is a limited area where the birds need to be looked for, the bad news is if you are not in that localized area you have to get there. This tour will only take four clients to ensure comfort and ease of getting in and out of the vehicle.

 

Though our target species is Cassia Crossbill we expect to see other birds and once we have seen the crossbill we will spend time enjoying the other birds and scenery of Southern Idaho. Last tour we found Cassia Crossbills on the first evening of birding and had the rest of the tour to seek out other avian wonders.

 

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 always the possibility of spotting one or both of the 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 empidinax flycatchers we hope to see and hear Hammond’s, Dusky, 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. 

 

Last tour we 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 $1,950 and includes most meals. Single occupancy is an additional $400 per person. 
 

Deposit: A deposit of $500 is needed to hold a 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 ddbrdfrd@aol.com or 281 744 6486 and leave a message and he will call back.

RIO GRANDE VALLEY OF TEXAS

11/13/2024 - 11/20/2024 | David Bradford & Brandon Percival

Four Participants Only 

 

With Thanksgiving so late in November that opens up an opportunity to sneak in one more Rio Grande Valley of Texas Tour before the end of the year. Each year there are a few rarities present in the Valley, though nothing like we experienced in late 2023. This tour will include many of the traditional Valley hotspots and a scheduled trip to the private Santa Margarita Ranch, the birding gem of Starr County which is often loaded with great birds. We will use Harlingen as our base of operations, though spending two nights in Rio Grande City will allow us the opportunity to explore the Upper Valley with relatively short drives.

 

This tour is designed to provide an introduction to the many exceptional birds of the Rio Grande Valley, not just chasing rarities. But while seeking out the Valley specialties we will attempt to track any rarities. During our time in the Valley, we might include Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP, Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, Resaca de las Palma SP, Estero Llano Grande SP, Frontera Audubon, Oliveira Park, Santa Ana NWR, and Quinta Mazatlan. And there will be a planned visit to Santa Margarita Ranch. 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, Red-billed Pigeon, White-tipped Dove, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Harris’s and Gray Hawk, Common Pauraque, Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Aplomado Falcon, Black-crested Titmouse, Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird, Green Jay, Long-billed Thrasher, Clay-colored Thrush, Olive Sparrow, Bronzed Cowbird, Audubon’s and Altamira Oriole, Morelet’s Seedeater. There are a few flocks of wintering warblers present and we will try to track those down as we look for Valley specialties.

A trip to South Padre can produce numerous ducks, shorebirds, waders like the charming Reddish Egret and more.  

 

Our first Valley tour was four nights, the second five nights, and our third was seven nights. With so many locations and good birds in the Valley I have made this a seven night tour allowing us to visit Coastal areas on South Padre Island and birds of the Upper Valley at Salineno and Santa Margarita Ranch and the many locations in between. If you want find Valley birds with the possibility of find some rarities this will provide that opportunity.

Fee: The cost of the tour for double occupancy is $2,250 and includes most meals. Single occupancy is an additional $550 per person. Meals are no longer a major production, but more relaxed casual affairs.

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.

SE ARIZONA IN THE WINTER

David Bradford/Brandon Percival

January 6-13, 2025

 

We have led bird tours to SE Arizona numerous times in the Spring/Summer/Fall, and last year we did our first winter tour and found out that winter is a wonderful time to bird this extremely birdy region. This year we will use Sierra Vista as our main base of operations, instead of Tucson, allowing us to make short forays to many of the traditional SE Arizona hotspots. I am leaving out Phoenix this year as the LeConte’s Thrasher habitat in Phoenix is being turned into a solar farm, hence no LeConte’s Thrasher present, but I am making this tour one day longer since there are so many locations to visit south and east of Tucson.

 

Spending our first two nights in Tucson allows us quick and easy access to Sweetwater Wetlands, Madera Canyon, Desert Meadows Park, and a few other birdy areas. Sweetwater Wetlands should allow a very close study of numerous ducks, Anna’s Hummingbird, Gila and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Greater Roadrunner, Belted Kingfisher, Vermilion Flycatcher, Black Phoebe, Verdin, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Phainopepla, Lesser Goldfinch, Pyrrhuloxia, and possibly some wintering warbler. A quick trip south to Madera Canyon and its many feeders should produce Wild Turkey, White-throated Swift, Rivoli’s Hummingbird, Acorn Woodpecker. Mexican Jay, Bridled Titmouse, Hepatic Tanager, and both Dark-eyed and Yellow-eyed Junco. In the grasslands lower in Madera Canyon and Desert Meadows Park we hope to find Costa’s and Broad-billed Hummingbird, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Verdin, and Rufous-winged Sparrow. 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. We plan to visit some bodies of water within easy striking distance of Sierra Vista looking shorebirds and numerous ducks.

 

A visit to world renowned Paton Center for Hummingbirds should produce our only Violet-crowned Hummingbird along with Broad-billed and possibly Anna’s. As we sit quietly or walk a few of the very short trails at the center we hope to see Gambel’s Quail, Inca and Common Ground Dove, Arizona Woodpecker, Say’s Phoebe, Bewick’s Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, Abert’s, Canyon, and Green-tailed Towhee.

 

Since we are staying in Sierra Vista this year a quick trip to Portal is probable and here, we hope to find Rivoli’s and Blue-throated Mountain-gem, Red-naped Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Black Phoebe, Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, Cactus Wren, Townsend’s Solitaire, Hermit Thrush, Pine Siskin, Black-throated Sparrow, and Pyrrhuloxia. There is no telling what might appear at Willow Tank, Stateline Road or the small birdy town of Rodeo, NM.

 

If you are looking for a bird filled tour with hopefully mild temps this is the tour for you. We will be staying in Tucson and Sierra Vista and driving to the nearby necessary bird locations. 

 

The cost of this four person, seven night tour, is $2,150 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.

 

We will fly in 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

2/6/2025 - 2/13/2025 | David Bradford & Brandon Percival       

Four Participants Only 

 

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. While in the Valley 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. But here’s the twist, before reaching the Valley we will spend two nights in the Corpus Christi/Rockport area taking a boat trip out to see Whooping Cranes and the many other birds along the Central Texas Coast.

 

This is an extension to our usual Rio Grande Valley tours that focus just on the Lower and Middle Valley. The two nights before the Valley will allow us time to take a boat trip out of Rockport in search of the winter Whooping Cranes that make Aransas NWR their winter home. Along with cranes we hope to find ducks, American Oystercatcher, Willet, gulls, terns, herons including Reddish, Roseate Spoonbill, Osprey, and Belted Kingfisher. After our boat trip we might visit the usually birdy Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center looking for more ducks up close and personal form the boardwalk, Sora, Common Gallinule, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Greater Yellowlegs, Little Blue Heron and Reddish Egret, sparrows and much more. This can be a lovely way to explore the Central Coast.

 

After our two nights along the Central Coast, we will work our way to the Valley spending five nights in Harlingen and going east and west from there. This tour allows us to focus on areas in a rather close geographical area that might include Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP, Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, Resaca de las Palma SP, 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 Becard, Crimson-collared Grosbeak, Golden-crowned Warbler 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. If you look at a bird list on my website from last year’s Valley tours you see an unprecedented number of rarities where in the Valley last year, we can only hope for a year like last year.

 

This trip does not include the upper Valley, Santa Margarita Ranch, or Salineno. 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 $2,250 and includes most meals. Single occupancy is an additional $550 per person. See my website for a list of birds seen previously. The cost of the tour covers most meals, though meals are no longer a major production, but a more relaxed and casual affair.

 

People might choose to fly into Houston and ride to Corpus Christi/Rockport area with me and Brandon or fly into Corpus Christi. We can sort that out once I know where birders are coming from.

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.

GRAND ALASKA TOUR - APPROXIMATE ITINERARY

May 28, 2025 - June 20, 2025

Bradford/Percival

Seven Participants: Six Spots Remain

Difficulty Level: Though we are in rugged Alaska, there are not many trails to

hike. Think bears and moose. One morning we plan a long, uphill hike on the tundra. This can be strenuous, but we go up and down the same trail. There might a few medium length walks on a gravel beach, but otherwise we are not far from the van.

                                                 

Anchorage 1   May 28

Anchorage 2   May 29

Denali         3   May 30

Denali         4   May 31 66 mile bus trip to Eielson Visitor Center in Denali NP

Paxson        5   June 1

Anchorage 6   June 2

Seward       7   June 3

Seward       8   June 4Boat trip through Resurrection Bay to a tidewater glacier

Homer        9   June 5

Homer        10 June 6Boat trip into the calm waters of Kachemak Bay

Anchorage 11 June 7

Barrow       12 June 8 Flight to Barrow

Barrow       13 June 9

Anchorage 14 June 10 Flight to Anchorage

Nome          15 June 11 Flight to Nome

Nome          16 June 12

Nome          17 June 13

Nome          18 June 14

Anchorage 19 June 15 Flight to Anchorage

Flights Home

 

The estimated cost of the 2025, nineteen night tour, is $8,750 per person double occupancy, add $3,250 for single occupancy. Everything in AK is expensive, rooms are outrageous. A deposit of $1,000 will hold your spot.

Most bird tours do not include Homer; however, I just can’t seem to not go there. It is a wonderful part of the Alaska tour. 

Below are two links that will take you to a list of birds from the 2012 and 2014.

https://ebird.org/tripreport/105324 

https://ebird.org/tripreport/142672

 

Please read the Written Summaries from 2012 and 2014 on my website to get an idea about the 2025 tour.

Please read the Bird Seen Alaska 2012 and Alaska 2014 on my website to get an idea about birds seen.

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 ddbrdfrd@aol.com or 281 744 6486 and leave a message and he will call back.

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