Big Bend National Park: November 23rd through 27th

Wednesday 23rd

An early start saw us rolling out of Houston by 7 am without any traffic. With only minimum stops for gas and snack was arrived at Seminole Canyon State Park with time to spare before the Fate Bell Shelter tour at 3 pm. A quick loop around the campground and short trail revealed not much in the way of birds, things were quiet, except for a single Black-tailed Gnatcatcher that showed unusually well calling incessantly from the tops of brush. We spent an 1.5 hours looking at the pictographs and learning about the history of the area before continuing west, arriving in Rio Grande Village around 8 pm.

Seminole Canyon Texas Photo Stephan Lorenz

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher Photo Stephan Lorenz

Thursday 24th

Rio Grande Village Campground was pretty quiet. I managed to find a single Field Sparrow among the few birds. Sparrows were generally sparse with a handful of White-crowed Sparrows and Swamps Sparrows in the reeds. The Green Kingfisher was in its usual spot in the wetland. The road to Pine Canyon was passable and we jumped at the chance to hike this beautiful trail. Again bird activity was low here with just a few Acorn Woodpeckers, Red-naped Sapsucker, and I barely managed to see a Hermit Thrush, American Robin, and two Spotted Towhees. A Black Bear that climbed into a Texas madrone to feed on the berries was entertaining for an hour. Near the end of the trail two Mexican Jays competed with the Acorn Woodpeckers for oak nuts. The best bird of the day, the best bird of the trip actually almost got away on the way out. I caught the slightest movement on a trunk and finally got onto a female WILLIAMSON”S SAPSUCKER, a new Texas bird for me. As typical for the species, the bird was quiet and hard to see, but I managed some photos.

Red-naped Sapsucker Big Bend Texas Photo Stephan Lorenz

Black Bear Pine Canyon Big Bend National Park Photo Stephan Lorenz

Williamson's Sapsucker Big Bend National Park Photo Stephan Lorenz

Friday 25th

I spent the early morning birding around Rio Grande Village, especially Daniel’s Ranch. Highlights included the Least Grebe reported by others earlier, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creeper, and a “Red” Fox Sparrow near our campsite. We hiked the Window Trail, partly in pouring rain, no birds in the mountains, except a small feeding flock in a canyon near Lost Mine Trail that contained a Hutton’s Vireo and Ruby-crowned Kinglet for great comparison.

Big Bend landscape Photo Stephan Lorenz

Saturday 26th

We explored a canyon near Lost Mine Peak today and hiked back along the trail after hiking through dense forest and up steep slopes. At Dugout Wells I found a Central Texas Whipsnake still out even after the cold front. In the evening we visited the Hot Springs were the usual American Pipits fed along the creek and a Spotted Sandpiper patrolled the rocks. On the Mexican shore a Wilson’s Snipe fed out in the open. Better weather today capped by a dramatic sunset bouncing off the Sierra Madre del Carmen.

Central Texas Whipsnake Big Bend National Park Photo Stephan Lorenz

Greater Roadrunner Big Bend National Park Photo Stephan Lorenz

Sunday 27th

Birds had picked up in the Rio Grande Village on the final morning. The best birds were a Sedge Wren near the Gambusia ponds, two more Brown Creepers, and a single Black-throated Green Warbler. Cedar Waxwings flew over. The trip back was long with a flat tire at the Prairie Dog Colony, which netted a Vesper Sparrow and Lark Buntings. Got back to Houston around 10pm.




3 responses to this post.

  1. Great post and pics – mind if we link to this from our blog in case folks are curious? (Probably just a c&p of your Texbirds post…)


  2. Glad you posted the link to this. We’ve been to Big Bend and the Davis Mountains several times and long to return!


  3. Great blog and trip report. I’m so jealous of some of your sightings. In the 30 plus years I’ve lived in the Big Bend I’ve never seen a bear in the park. I keep missing the Green Kingfisher when I go there to photograph it, and haven’t had time yet to photograph the grebe. Never saw a Sedge Wren in the park either. Wish I had time to go there and enjoy some of those wonderful birds such as Williamson Sapsucker, etc.


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