Dana Nelson and Harlan Stewart will be presenting photos and anecdotes on the September 2016 trip by the “Whatabirders” to the Rockport Hummerbird Festival, Lower Rio Grande Valley, and the Hazel Bazemore Hawkwatch. The seven Whatabirders include Jana Whittle, Ross Foreman, Royce Pendergast, Girish Doshi, Christine Sliva, Dana Nelson, and Harlan Stewart. The presentation will feature numerous photos by Dana Nelson and Harlan Stewart of many subjects, not all avian, beginning in the early morning hour at High Island, through Galveston East Beach, Brazoria NWR, Goose Island State Park, Rockport, a Falfurrias rest stop, Bentsen-Rio-Grande Valley State Park, Santa Anna NWR, National Butterfly Center, Estero Llano Grande State Park, Sabal Palms Sanctuary, South Padre Island, Laguna Atascosa NWR, and the Hawk Watch at Hazel-Bazemore County Park. The Rockport Hummerbird Festival is well known and celebrates unique circumstance where the large population of eastern Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are funneled into the region of the Texas coastal bend during fall migration. The above national and state parks are deservedly major hotspots for birding, allowing birder visitors to observe many species unique to South Texas, such as Green Jays, Plain Chachalacas, White-tipped Doves, Groove-billed Anis, White-tailed Hawks, Aplomado Falcons, Altimira Orioles, Hooded Orioles, Olive Sparrows, and Long-billed Thrashers. The coastal bend phenomenon works for raptor just as it does for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, allowing one to view amazing flights of large migrants, particularly Broad-tailed Hawks, at the Hazel-Bazemore Hawk Watch.
We will plan on having the doors open by 6:00 p.m. and the program will start at 7:00 p.m. sharp. A light supper will be available from 6:15 p.m.
Meet the leaders at the vehicle barrier at Bolivar Flats at 8:30 a.m. Take Highway 124 south from Winnie about 20 miles through High Island. At the shoreline, turn right along Highway 87 and proceed approximately 25 miles through Gilchrist and Crystal Beach until you come to the intersection with Loop 108. At that intersection, turn left (south -- the opposite direction from Loop 108) on Rettilon Road to the beach. If conditions permit, drive onto the sand and turn right to the vehicle barrier (about 1/2 mile). It is about a 90-minute drive, with no allowance for stops, from Beaumont or mid-County to the Flats.
We will leave the vehicle barrier at about 8:45 a.m., although the group will be visually obvious on the flats should you be a few minutes later than that. Some walking is necessary on this field trip. Depending on the mud flat conditions, we may visit to the North Jetty to view the birds from that side. Bring drinks and lunch (or buy locally, but that is not particularly easy), sunscreen and insect repellent. We normally stop at Fort Travis Park to eat lunch and use the facilities. We will check in High Island for any "early" Neotropic songbird fall migrants.
You will need a Galveston County Beach Parking Permit, obtainable for $10 from most merchants on the Peninsula, to park on the beach.