Directions To Jim's house and the GOS
Come down the Gulf Freeway (I-45) and take 61st Street right entering
Turn right on the Seawall and you'll leave town in about five
minutes. The Seawall ends, but you stay on the same four-lane road. Where
it becomes two-lane in Jamaica Beach, go 1.6 miles further, and turn right
into Indian Beach. Take the FIRST right (quickly), which is Shaman, the road
turns left 90 degrees, and dead ends into the cul-de-sac where the driveway is.
2016 September and October
September and October of 2016, Jim will be repeating his graduate work (from 40 years ago) on St. George Island, on the Florida Coast, near Tallahassee. He is offering a week-long tour of North Florida, right in the heart of the fall migration, the first week of October. There will also be days within the week where we visit places for neat inland birds like woodpeckers, nuthatches and so-forth. That trip will be $1000.
Most years, in fall, Jim offers Saturday field trips to local areas, for fall migrants and waterbirds. Of particular interest is the trip to Smith Point Hawkwatch Tower, managed by the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.
2016 November and December
November is the first winter month, and a great time for a four-day trip to Bosque del Apache NWR, the New Mexico destination with thousands of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. This trip may be combined with a side trip to Arizona, making a desert difecta loaded with western birds. Stay tuned!
December is the month Jim totally crashes from the craziness of January to November!
2017 January, Rio Grande Valley
January begins with a local Saturday trip or two, studying waterfowl, shorebirds and wintering land birds. Destinations include sites like refuges, parks and beaches with waterbird populations.
In late January, usually the week before the Super Bowl, we have a four-day trip to South Texas, where we endeavor to find (and often photograph) many of the typical Valley birds. Included in this list are chachalacas, Green Jays, Tropical and Couch’s Kingbirds, roadrunners, kiskadees, Vermilion Flycatchers, Cinnamon Teal and many more. Birding is as fabulous as the photography (with hand-held cameras), making this a very popular trip. The cost is $600 and we stay in Harlingen all three nights.
2017 February, Costa Rica
February is all about Costa Rica, as we have three wonderful and separate weeks down there. Week one, the “Western Loop,” we head over to the Pacific Coast and begin with the Tarcoles area. Included in this is the town itself, with Turquoise-browed Motmots, a boat ride into the mangroves with Boat-billed Herons, a Canopy Walk down the side of the mountain, with many mid-range tropical species, and fabulous Carara National Park.
The first week continues with a visit to extreme southwestern Costa Rica, before heading into the Central Highlands to the sanctuary once owned by the late Alexander Skutch, and a terrific site for hummingbird study and photography. We visit the very high areas of the Talamancas, with birds like Volcano Junco and Volcano Hummingbird, and finish by visiting and staying in a reserve where quetzals are guaranteed. $1200, all but meals.
The second week is the Eastern Loop, which begins high atop Poas Volcano, where many species occur that will not be seen the rest of the trip. It’s possible to see quetzals, but we can’t promise it, like we do on week one. We then ease down the mountain, where we visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens, with terrific hummingbird feeders and other possible birds on the grounds. Also, there is a huge, walk-in aviary for photographers to get shots of loads of Costa Rican birds easily missed on the trip. More hummingbird shots are easy at the “Hummingbird House” further down the mountain, where there are also Emerald Toucannets, Collared Aracari, plus Prong-billed and Red-headed Barbets.
Further down the mountains, along the Sarapique River, there are fabulous areas for birds, like Selva Verde, and best of all, La Selva Biological Station. We even stay at lovely La Quinta, with a fabulous feeder that attracts many tropical songbirds, like ant-tanagers, Green and Red-legged Honeyeaters and much more. From this area we will visit Los Chiles, on the Rio Frio, and take two phenomenal boat trips with huge numbers of tropical birds, huge iguanas, caimen and several species of monkeys. $1200
The third week is for bird photographers, and is mostly in eastern Costa Rica. We’ll work many of the natural feeders and other places with good shooting, then move over to Laguna del Lagartos for a fabulous morning of shooting aracari, oropendola, tanagers and other tropical birds. Next is the Rio Frio, with all the river birds, and then the trip will wind up at Monteverdi, with opportunities to photograph quetzals. You should bag two hundred tropical species while there, plus monkeys, huge iguanas, caimen and beautiful butterflies. $1200
2017 March, Big Bend
March is the beginning of the spring migration, but we often try to squeeze in a four-day trip to West Texas, for Big Bend National Park. We drive out very early Thursday and visit Balmorhea, as well as the Davis Mountains. We’ll end up staying west of Big Bend, where we will visit a fabulous set of feeders very early Friday morning. We will enter the Park midday on Friday and bird around headquarters. Saturday morning we will work the west edge of the Park, along the Rio Grande, and some nearby locations. Sunday morning we will work the eastern edge of the Park, also along the Rio Grande, before taking off midday for home. Terrific trip! $600
2017 April and May
April is the month when birds just break loose in the Galveston area, plus nearby parks and refuges. We have Saturday trips before our wonderful festival, FeatherFest. Then we have a week of fantastic birding in the heart of the migration, where bird watchers drool and photographers with hand-held cameras shoot their lenses off! This week is $450, and we visit all the great sites on the UTC, including San Bernard, Brazoria and Anahuac NWR, Brazos Bend State Park, sanctuaries at High Island (and the Rookery), Bolivar Flats and all over Galveston Island.
May winds up the spring migration and also offers a wonderful Saturday trip to the Big Thicket (lunch at Mama Jack’s!). But the big news is the Great Plains Trip in late May, that runs from the fabulous birding of the Great Salt Lake, north through terrific birding in Idaho, all over Montana, culminating in North Dakota. Some of the wonderful and rare birds seen include Chestnut-collared and McCown’s Longspur, Black Rosy-finch, Mountain Plover, Golden Eagle and some rare sparrows like Baird’s. This trip is $1500 and it’ll show you many places and birds not seen in the rest of the Country.
There is also a possibility that we will arrange an August rafting trip down the Sag River, that flows out of the Brook’s Range, toward the Arctic Ocean. Are you kidding me? Nesting Gyrfalcon, Bluethroat, Yellow Wagtail, Red-throated Loon, Hoary Redpolls, and Lord only knows what else. This trip will separate the men from the boys and the women from the girls. [Hopefully we can separate the men from the girls.] ;)
Let me know what you are interested in.
2017 June, Alaska
June is the big destination for the GOS, where we spend two weeks in Alaska. We fly into Anchorage and spend the first week on the Kenai Peninsula, taking one boat to a seabird colony and then the all-day, Resurrection Bay Tour. We’ll see lotsa of alcids, tons of Bald Eagles up close, and many species of northern songbirds. The second week we drive to Denali National Park for a great bus ride into Mt. McKinley, fantastic scenery and birding across the Alaskan Highway and then the big drive north, across the Arctic Circle, to the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe. After two days, we fly to Barrow for a few extra species, like Pomarine Jaeger, Red Phalarope, Sabine’s Gull, Steller’s Eider and who knows what else! Because of expensive hotels, the trip is $3000, but it is an experience you’ll never forget.
July is a wild card month where we often have a trip below the Equator, like South Africa, South America or Australia. If you are on the bird list, you’ll know this year’s plans, as well as more precise dates for other trips.
2017 August, Arizona
August is the month for the Arizona Trip. This is a ten-day tour of SE Arizona, where we see many of the “Mexican” species that sneak across the Border into the Chiricahua and Huachuca Mountains. Aside from a dozen hummingbirds, rare western warblers, neat woodpeckers, rare hawks, desert species of vireos, sparrows and much more. The trip is around $1500, depending, and Jim may offer a ride out, or you can fly to Tucson.
Late August is the annual GOS Open Houses at Jim’s, where we spend the first hour or so in great birding in Jim’s cul-de-sac. As it warms up, we move to Jim’s glass-covered living room, where neat fall migrant songbirds often appear just outside. This is a good time to meet new people and make plans for the birding year.