Mark Smith Nature Tours
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Birds, Natural History & Photography

El Paso to San Antonio

April 14 - 23, 2019


The Big Bend country is a land of dramatic desert vistas, majestic mountains and spectacular limestone cliffs overlooking the Rio Grande. This 800,000 acre National Park encompasses the most southerly mountains in the continental United States. Most of the park is Chihuahuan desert, with the Chisos Mountains rising from the arid landscape, a luxuriant island of woodlands and exotic Mexican flora. Big Bend has the highest cactus and bird diversity of any of the U.S. National Parks. By mid April and early May breeding birds have returned and great concentrations of migrants including colorful eastern and western warblers are in passage at hidden springs and desert oases. Other regional specialties include Colima Warbler, Lucifer Hummingbird, Zone-tailed Hawk, Varied Bunting, Crissal Thrasher, Gray Vireo, and Black-chinned Sparrow. As we search for birds we will have ample opportunities to photograph and identify flowers and cacti, and to see mammals and reptiles distinctive to the region. Many cacti will be blooming during our trip, adding to the desert's fascination.

In the isolated Davis Mountains we'll search for Montezuma Quail and Common Black Hawk and visit McDonald Astronomical Observatory. Our last days are spent on the Edwards Plateau, the delightful Texas Hill Country, on the trail of the Black-capped Vireo, Golden-cheeked Warbler, Cave Swallow, Olive Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, and Green Kingfisher, among many others. One evening we visit a cave to watch ten million Mexican Free-tailed Bats emerge from their daytime roost to hunt insects over the surrounding woodlands. This tour includes several beautiful walks of a few miles or so. Flowers and other attractions of the desert spring will also be of interest to us.

El Paso to San Antonio
April 14 - 23, 2019

COST: $2750

LEADER: Mark Smith  


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