"Nature Buff" Tour
sample itinerary
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Birds, Beasts, Beauty, and Culture of the Texas Coastal Bend




  

A summary of possible activities is provided below, although actual day on which a particular activity is undertaken may vary, depending on weather.  Each day's adventures will end at dusk with a spot-lighting tour of the refuge for those wishing to participate.  All planned activities are optional, and if guests prefer to spend the day on the Welder campus on their own, they are welcome to do so. 

Day 1
Arrival at Welder

Day 2
 Welcome and tour of the spectacular Welder facilities and habitats by Executive Director Dr. Terry Blankenship and/or Assistant Director, Dr. Selma Glasscock followed by an introduction to the fabulous Coastal Bend region of South Texas in a talk by Dr. John Rappole explaining why it is the richest area for natural history in North America north of the Tropics.  We will then set out on a birding and natural history tour of Welder beginning at the Welder feeder, often attended at this time of year by as many as 20 different species including Green Jay, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, White-tipped Dove, Inca Dove, Common Ground Dove, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Black-crested Titmouse, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Golden-fronted Woodpecker.  For lunch, we will make the short drive into Sinton to visit Flores Restaurant for a delicious Tex-Mex meal.  The afternoon will be spent exploring the Welder Refuge including paddling on Moody Creek and the Aransas River in tandem open kayaks and visits to oxbows, riparian forests, and mesquite chaparral where alligators, armadillos, roadrunners, kiskadees, Green Kingfishers, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks,  Neotropic
Cormorants, Least Grebe, and many other Texas specialties are commonly seen.

Day 2
 After breakfast, we will set out for Copano Bay Marina to meet Kevin and Lori Sims of Aransas Bay Birding Charters for a boating tour of Aransas Bay and the southern end of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, weather permitting. Species often seen on the trip include dolphins, pelicans, Reddish Egret, Osprey, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Skimmer, Gull-billed Tern, Snowy Egret, Great Egret, and many others.  Lunch will be at Charolette Plummer's Seafare Restaurant, located right on Aransas Bay where excellent fresh local sea food is served up along with a wonderful view of the busy oyster boat wharf and bay beyond, after which we will head on back to Welder for the remainder of the afternoon and evening.  
           
Day 3
We head out for a tour of the legendary King Ranch today, followed by lunch at the Baffin Bay Seafood Company  on the water at Baffin Bay.  After lunch, we will travel to the unique oak savanna habitat of the Wild Horse desert, then head back to Welder.

Day 4
Two ferry rides will start the day; the first across the ship channel to Port Aransas, and the second from Port Aransas to San Jose Island.   We will spend the rest of the morning on the island, birding, shelling, and beach-combing.   Lunch will be at  Virginia's On the Bay in Port Aransas, after which we will head on down Mustang Island for stops at the Packery Channel Jetty (green sea turtles) and County Park (migrant fallout sites) before returning to Welder for the evening.

Day 5
We will tour Padre Island National Seashore this morning followed by lunch at Snoopy's on the water off the Kenedy Causeway.  After lunch we will head on to Hazel Bazemore County Park on the Nueces River, an Important Bird Area and top hawk-watching site (in terms of total species and individuals) in North America north of the tropics.  From there we will travel back to Welder for the evening.

Day 6
Departure
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Padre Island National Seashore