Big Bend Birds & Wildflowers
Aug. 25-29, 2017
A naturalist led trip to Big Bend National Park in late August. Why Big Bend then? It is toward the end of the rainy season and it is very pleasant in the mountains as well as the most reliable time to see wildflowers. The summer residents are there and maybe some early fall migrants might be coming through. Granted it will get hot in the low desert. The average August temperature is 92 taken at the headquarters which is about mid- elevation. The lower elevations are 5-10 degrees or more hotter and the mountains are 5-10 degrees cooler. We will be headed back to the mountains by noon each day to have lunch and a siesta. The bus will always be close to us if you need to take a break from the heat.
Big Bend NP covers over 800,000 acres and is part of the Chihuahuan Desert Biosphere Reserve. Habitats range from river and floodplain through low, mid and high deserts, grasslands and mountain forest. There are over 1200 plant species, 11 species of amphibians, 56 species of reptiles, 40 species of fish, 75 species of mammals, over 400 species of birds, and about 3,600 species of insects making the park one of the most biologically diverse ‘deserts’ in the world.
Important: Bring your Passport and small bills to visit Boquillas, Mexico
Friday 8/25; 6:00AM Leave Botanic Gardens parking lot. Breakfast at the Smokestack restaurant in the ghost town of Thurber then on to Marathon where we will stay at the historic Gage Hotel. We should arrive early enough to enjoy the flowers and birds in their gardens.
Saturday 8/26: After breakfast we will stop at the city park south of town to see who is visiting the springs there that morning and then on to Big Bend. There will be several stops along the way at points of interest, including the visitors center before we wind our way up into the Chisos Mountains to check into the lodge there. After checking in and unpacking we can take a short stroll on the Windows Overlook trail to watch the sunset and have dinner at the lodge restaurant.
Sunday 8/27: We need an early start which means a quick breakfast at 7:00 so we can get to our destination right after sunrise. Our destination is Rio Grande Village and the floodplain where the fresh water pond and the rare (only place in the world) fish live, there is a black hawk nest site and many other species are found. If everyone brought their passports, then we will cross the river and go to the village of Boquillas. The roundtrip boat ride costs $5.00 as does a burro ride to/from town (a mile away) or a horse for $8.00. A local guide will accompany us (required by the Biosphere Reserve) for a gratuity. There are numerous crafts for sale and 2 restaurants there for lunch. There might be a horseback ride available to the mouth of the canyon by then. After our foreign adventure, we will return to the mountains for a siesta and some birding around the basin and dinner at the scenic restaurant.
Monday, 8/28: Another early start as we head for the other end of the park, Cottonwood campground and Santa Elena canyon. After birding there and a hike into the canyon, we will go to the trading post of Castolon for lunch, go through the small museum there and then back up the road to stop at several points of interest. This evening we will go to the former ghost town of Terlingua for dinner, sightseeing and shopping.
Tuesday 8/29: Return home after breakfast. Should arrive early evening.
Bus: We are taking a small bus that does not have an onboard restroom. But we will be stopping every about every 2 hours or less to stretch our legs and visit any facilities.
You should bring: Comfortable clothing for birding, hiking/walking shoes hat/cap sunglasses, sunscreen insect repellent binoculars. notebook and bird ID, toiletries medicine, Water bottle light jacket/rain gear scope (optional), Small day/fanny pack camera (optional) snacks
Deadline: In order to guarantee a room you need to register by June 20 which is our rooming contracts deadline. After this date, your registration will be accepted only if rooms are available.
Costs: $895 per person Friends of Nature Center member. $995. Per person non-Friends member, but includes a one year family membership. Price includes transportation, lodging, bottled water, and one Nature Center staff accompanying trip. You are responsible for your food, costs in Boquillas, and any shopping.
Deposits: You can make a $200.00 per person deposit to register. The final amount is due by July 20.
Refund policy: Should you need to cancel your trip by the deadline you will receive a full refund. After that date, your refund will be reduced by the amount of the nonrefundable costs we incur. If the Friends cancel the trip, you will receive a full refund. It is recommended that you pay for the trip with a credit card that has travel insurance or buy such separately.
Registration: Make your check and send to FONC 9601 Fossil Ridge Rd. Ft. Worth, TX 76135
Questions: Please contact Bill Richerson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 817-235-6524.