Special Trips

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Special Trips


Pre-Festival Trip


HOUSTON WHOOPER HOP Van_1 LunchBox_1Bed PhotoOp_1ScopeUseful_1

with Michael Marsden, Jon Dunn, and Glenn Olsen
Fee $900 per person (double) $1025 per person (single) [3 nights, all breakfasts, 3 lunch, and 2 dinners]
Date: Saturday Nov 4 – Tuesday Nov 7

Join us for a one-way expedition from Houston, Texas to Harlingen, visiting the piney woods, coastal  marshes, and seeking the stately Whooping Crane.   We’ll meet in Houston, and will travel to Harlingen in one van with two guides, or two vans with three guides if registration warrants.

We’ll start birding at Jones State Forest near Houston, an area of tall stately pines and a very different bird community from south Texas!  We’ll head out early to look for the Endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker, which will be difficult in late fall, but Brown-headed Nuthatches and other pine forest species are more likely to put on a show!  We’ll end up in Winnie, convenient to the Bolivar peninsula where we’ll bird the marshes, mudflats, and beaches the next day.  The species list could be lengthy! We’ll end the second day’s birding in Rockport.  On our last morning, we’ll head out on a coastal bay tour on the fast boat the Skimmer in search of Whooping Cranes and coastal species.  After lunch, we’ll drive to Harlingen in the afternoon, where the trip ends at the airport for those needing to pick up rental cars.  NOTE:  This is a one way tour from Houston to Harlingen.


Arrive in Houston at Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and contact the hotel for a shuttle pick up.  We’ll have a short get-acquainted meeting at hotel at 7 PM.  Night Houston.  No meals.


We’ll target birds of eastern Texas including birds of the pine forest.  We’ll get out early to look for Red-cockaded Woodpecker (difficult at this season), but we should have better chances for Brown-headed Nuthatch and Pine Warbler.  Many of our sightings will be of birds not found in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, so we’ll enjoy the opportunity to study Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, and Carolina Chickadee among so many others. We’ll keep an ear out for rare birds that may appear in the area, but all decisions are up to your guides!  Night Winnie. B, L, D (I’m thinking the Hampton Inn, best variety for breakfast) 


We’ll start our day at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, birding the extensive marshes looking for American Bittern, Virginia and Clapper Rail, Sora, Long-billed Curlew, herons, egrets, shorebirds and more!  After a quick stop at Tuna Road on the Bolivar Peninsula to look for Nelson’s Sparrow, we’ll make our way to the Bolivar Flats to study shorebirds, walking out the beach to look for Snowy, Piping, and Wilson’s Plover, Red Knot, Marbled Godwit, and more.  We’ll take the free ferry to Galveston, and then drive about 3.5 hours to Rockport, Texas.  Night, Rockport, Texas.  B, L, D


Today we’ll venture out on the “Skimmer”, Captain Tommy Moore’s shallow draft boat in search of newly-arrived wintering Whooping Cranes!  While this stately endangered species will be the focus of our trip, we’ll enjoy this chance to bird deep salt water channels and marshes from the water.  We may encounter Common Loon, Horned Grebe, Common Goldeneye, and in the marshes Clapper Rail, Seaside Sparrow, and more!  After the boat trip, we will have lunch in Rockport before heading south to Harlingen.  We’ll make a quick stop at the Sarita Rest Area on the way.  In Harlingen, we’ll drop participants at the airport for rental cars or shuttles to other hotels, or the Best Western.  B, L


Post-Festival Trip

Northern Mexico Medley – from the Mountains to the Desert

LunchBox_1 PhotoOp_1 ScopeUseful_1Bed

with René Valdés, Roy Rodriguez, and Mary Gustafson
Fee $ 915 per person (double) – $1,290 per person (single) – $ 890 per person (triple or quad)
Operated by GO WITH JO TOURS – (956) 423-1446. Register with Jo or Lydia.
Dates: Monday, Nov 13 7:30am – Friday, Nov 17 5pm.

Join us on a fascinating excursion to northcentral Mexico, visiting the states of Coahuila and Nuevo Leon.  Our destination will be the Monterrey and Saltillo area, visiting renowned birding spots in the comfort (and convenience) of a modern motor coach.  A maximum of 30 participants will be on a birding adventure to Cumbres National Park and surrounding environs, and to see as many birds as we can!  Departure is Monday, 13 November, returning on Friday, 17 November.  A valid passport is required (passport may not expire before May 13, 2018).

This is an active trip with a lot of walking and standing.  We’ll be in a large group at times (maximum 30 participants with three guides) and if conditions allow we’ll break into smaller groups.  Participants should be able to walk steadily for some distance.  Trip hazards and uneven ground can be expected at all sites.  It is okay to bring your camera, keeping in mind this is not a photography trip.

The price of your trip includes transportation, 4 nights lodging (2 in Saltillo and 2 in Santiago), birding daily, 4 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 4 dinners.  All tourism and border fees are included. Alcoholic beverages can be purchased at your own expense.  Bottled water and an afternoon snack will be supplied daily on the motor coach.


This trip starts with a 7 AM departure from Harlingen.  We will go through customs and immigration and turn in our paperwork for visas before continuing onward into Mexico.  We’ll take a stretch break on the way to Monterrey, the third largest city in Mexico, before continuing on to beautiful Chipinque Park (approximately 3 hours from the border).  We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch in the montane forest at Chipinque.  The park is scenic and birdy, and while we won’t be there at the best time of day there will still be birds to look at, and we’ll spend a few hours enjoying Acorn and Golden-olive (Bronze-winged) Woodpecker, Mexican Jay, Bridled Titmouse, Rufous-capped and Crescent-chested Warbler, and maybe even Gray-collared Becard.  We’ll continue on to Saltillo, and spend the night at the Hotel Rancho El Morillo.  Meals: PL, D.


We’ll birding the Chihuahuan Desert grasslands and brush southeast of Saltillo, looking for the many wintering grassland birds with a special target, the endemic Worthen’s Sparrow.  With a world population estimate under 1000 birds (an out of date estimate was 100 pairs total) we will keep our eyes peeled!  Many other sparrows are possible, including  Savannah, Vesper, Lark, Black-throated, Grasshopper, Chipping, and more!  We’ll also hope to see for Burrowing Owl, Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, Scaled Quail, Sprague’s Pipit, and many other desert species. We’ll have a picnic lunch with us so we can maximize birding time.   We’ll go into Saltillo in the afternoon for a visit to the Museo de las Aves de México, focused on the birds and ecosystems of Mexico.  Night, Hotel Rancho El Morillo.

Meals: B, PL, D.


We’ll have an early departure from Saltillo and the flat plains and sky islands of the Chihuahuan Desert, and drive east to an area of high elevation pine forest.  We will make a pilgrimage to the “Highrise”, a nesting cliff for the Maroon-fronted Parrot, an endemic with a population of about 3000 individuals.  Although most birds will have finished nesting and moved elsewhere, we will hope for a few birds to be lingering near the colony.  We’ll bird the pine forest looking for Band-tailed Pigeon, White-eared Hummingbird, Pine Flycatcher, Gray Silky-Flycatcher, Mexican Chickadee, Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, Brown-backed Solitaire, Olive Warbler, Slate-throated Redstart, Russet Nightingale-Thrush and Yellow-eyed Junco.  We’ll look for the Hooded Yellowthroat, a yellowthroat of dry brushy areas that is very secretive in winter.   After driving through the spectacular San Isidro Canyon we will stop at Parque El Manzano for more chances at pine forest species.   If time allows, we’ll visit La Boca Dam in the late afternoon for some water birds for a change.  Night, Hotel Las Palomas in Santiago.

Meals: B, L, D.


Today we’ll head out early to Parque Natural La Estanzuela southeast of Monterrey.  La Estanzuela is close to the city but extensive enough to have intact forest and healthy bird populations.  This is an excellent place for the Crimson-collared Grosbeak, and we’ll try to find this shy and reclusive bird.  We’ll spend some time birding the entrance road before entering the park proper.  This area has a mix of high and lower elevation species, with Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and Red-billed Pigeon from lowlands, and Flame-colored Tanager and Blue-capped Motmot from the highlands.  After lunch we’ll go back into Cumbres National Park to visit Cola del Caballo (Horsetail Falls), a scenic waterfall and more of a tourist attraction than a birding site, but we won’t stop birding.  We’ll explore looking for birds like Broad-billed Hummingbird, Elegant Trogon, Blue-capped Motmot, Greater Pewee, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Rose-throated Becard, Brown Jay, Spot-breasted Wren, Rufous-capped Warbler, Rufous-capped Brush-Finch, Flame-colored Tanager, and more.  Night, Hotel Las Palomas in Santiago.

Meals: B, L, D.


We’ll load everything back onto the bus and depart Santiago.  Our last birding destination is La Juventud Dam, a large presa (reservoir) on the way back to the border.  In addition to the expected herons, egrets, shorebirds and waterfowl, and we’ll be looking for wild Muscovy Duck, Mallard (Mexican Duck), Brown Jay, kingfishers, and any other species we may have missed.  Many of the birds are similar to those in South Texas, and we’ll enjoy old friends like Green Jay, Altamira Oriole, White-tailed Hawk, Verdin, and Green and Ringed Kingfisher.  We’ll return to the border and cross back into the United States, returning about 5 PM to Harlingen.

Meals: B, L.

About our Border Logistics

We will depart Harlingen on a motor coach for the short ride to the border.  At the border, we will disembark and take all our luggage and belongings with us for a short taxi ride to Mexican customs and immigration where we will apply for a visa.  In Mexico we will board a different motor coach and continue on to Monterrey.  Go With Jo staff will be present throughout to help us through the border crossing and paperwork.  We will reverse the process on our return to the border.