At the present time EcoQuest Travel does not have a bat-viewing trip to Texas scheduled. The following itinerary is an example of trips we have conducted in the past and is similar to trips we intend to offer in the future. Please keep in mind that EcoQuest Travel offers many different itineraries to Texas – the trip listed below is just one example. If you are interested in Texas as a destination please contact us for further information.

The Wildlife of Texas

Bats and Birds of the Edwards Plateau

Natural History Field Trip, June 3 – June 9

7 – Day Itinerary

Day 1 – Wednesday, June 3: Raleigh to Austin, Texas

We will depart from Raleigh/Durham International Airport this morning on our flight to Dallas, Texas. Once in Dallas we will transfer to our short flight to Austin. Please arrive at the airport no later than two hours prior to our scheduled departure time. Upon arrival in Austin, we will transfer to our accommodations at the Hampton Inn Austin Airport. One of the main purposes of this trip is to witness the staggering numbers of Mexican free-tailed bats that emerge to feed each evening. These spectacular flights only occur in the twilight of late spring and summer throughout the Southwestern US. Texas, in particular, has many of the country’s largest breeding and roosting sites. Our wildlife adventure begins tonight as we travel to the historic Congress Avenue Bridge to await the evening departure of over a million Mexican free-tailed bats. This particular bat colony roosts rather unconventionally beneath the bridge and it will be awe-inspiring to see clouds of bats wheel over Lake Austin and spiral upwards in search of insects. After the bat flight we will have dinner at Sago Modern Mexican Restaurant before returning to our hotel for a good night’s sleep. (D)

Day 2 – Thursday, June 4: Austin to San Antonio, the Alamo and on to Garner State Park

We will be up early this morning to visit Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge was created to protect the principal nesting habitats of two endangered birds – the black-capped vireo and the golden-cheeked warbler. These two birds have a very restricted range in the US and the golden-cheeked warbler breeds exclusively in the oak-juniper forests of the Edwards Plateau region in Texas. We will spend considerable effort during this trip to see both of these rare and unique birds. Our first stop will be the Shin Oak Observation Deck to look for black-capped vireos. After that we will hike a portion of the Cactus Rocks Trail which winds through prime golden-cheeked warbler habitat. We could also see black-tailed jackrabbit, greater roadrunner, black-chinned hummingbirds, painted buntings, canyon towhee, western scrub jay and rufous-crowned sparrows. After a morning of birding we will depart south for San Antonio stopping for lunch along the way. Once we arrive in San Antonio we will stop briefly to visit the historic Alamo. The Alamo is the old mission where Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, William Travis and a small band of Texans held out for thirteen days in the face of the Mexican army commanded by General Santa Anna. Although the Alamo fell in the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, the death of the Alamo defenders has come to symbolize courage and sacrifice for the cause of Liberty. After our visit to the Alamo we will head west into the Texas hill country and should arrive in the small town of Concan, and our accommodations at Neal’s Lodges, by early evening. If we arrive early enough we could take a refreshing swim in the Frio River before having dinner at the Lodge. (B,L,D)

Day 3 – Friday, June 5: Garner State Park and Rio Frio Bat Cave

Today we will have a full day to explore Garner State Park. Situated along the Frio River, Garner State Park protects a wide variety of habitats including riparian forests, juniper-hackberry woodlands, oak savannahs and mesquite grasslands. This mosaic of habitats supports abundant wildlife including white-tailed deer, black rock and fox squirrels, Rio Grande wild turkey and, unfortunately, herds of feral axis deer. There is also an abundance of birds including: green kingfisher, black phoebe and golden-fronted woodpecker along the river; white-winged and Inca doves, ladder-backed woodpecker, vermilion and scissor-tailed flycatchers and bronzed cowbirds in the adjacent fields and woodlands; and common ground-dove, verdin, cactus wren and pyrrhuloxia in the drier open mesquite grasslands. We will have a picnic lunch in the park and after a full day we will return to Neal’s Lodges to prepare for our evening excursion to the Rio Frio Bat Cave. This cave is located on private property and is home to ten million Mexican free-tailed bats making this the largest population we will observe on our trip. This many bats emerging to feed also draws predators and we could witness zone-tailed, red-tailed, red-shouldered, Swainson’s and Harris hawks all attempting to catch bats. Kestrels, merlin and peregrine falcons could also join in the hunt. After a spectacular evening we will return to Neal’s Lodges for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Day 4 – Saturday, June 6: Lost Maples State Park and on to Del Rio

This morning, after an early breakfast, we will travel north to Lost Maples State Park. This beautiful park was named for the abundance of bigtooth maples found throughout its over 2,000 acres. We will concentrate our efforts on a one mile section of trail along the Can Creek. This section of the park has abundant wildlife and we hope to see white-tailed deer, raccoon, armadillo and rock squirrels. With luck we could also see collared peccary and bobcat. Green kingfishers are found near the creek and a variety of other birds can be seen including black-capped vireo, golden-cheeked warbler, ash-throated flycatcher, cliff swallow, bushtit, canyon wren and lesser goldfinch. After spending the morning exploring we will have a picnic lunch before departing south and west for Del Rio. Del Rio is a small city located along the Rio Grande River and the border with Mexico. It will take most of the afternoon to drive to Del Rio and upon arrival we will check into the Hampton Inn. If enough time permits we could explore part of the Amistad National Recreation Area before dinner at Del Rio’s famous Hot Pit Bar BQ. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Sunday, June 7: The Petroglyphes of Seminole Canyon and on to Kickapoo Caverns State Park

This morning we will visit Seminole Canyon State Park in order to hike to the fabulous rock paintings of the Fate Bell Shelter. Fate Bell is a rock shelter situated above the Pecos River. Beneath the rock overhang the walls are decorated with some of the most remarkable pictographes in North America. Dating back as far as 7,000 years, these rock paintings are also the oldest known petroglyphes in the United States. The one and a half to two hour hike to and from the Fate Bell Shelter can be fairly strenuous, but we will take our time looking for wildlife along the way. White-throated swift, cave swallow, Say’s phoebe, rock wren and curve-billed thrasher are among the new birds we could see in the canyon. After our hike we will have lunch before heading east to the town of Brackettville and our overnight accommodations at the historic Fort Clark Springs Motel. The area around present-day Brackettville is an oasis nourished by underground springs and in 1852 Fort Clark was established around these springs as cavalry post. This fort was home to the cavalry until 1944 when it was one of the last horse-cavalry posts to close. Fort Clark has a rich history which included housing the famed Buffalo Soldiers and it acted as a POW camp for German soldiers during World War I. We will stay at the Fort Clark Motel which is actually the old cavalry barricks. As guests we will also have access to the huge spring-fed swimming pool at Fort Clark which should bring some welcome relief from our travels and the heat. In the late afternoon we will travel to Kickapoo Caverns State Park to witness the Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from Stuart Bat Cave. Like all the free-tailed bats we will see on our trip these bats winter in Mexico and migrate to Texas, and the southwestern US, to mate and give birth. They take advantage of abundant insect prey throughout the late spring and summer months before returning south to Mexico for the winter. After another enchanted evening among the bats we will return to Bracketville for dinner at a local restaurant and the Fort Clark Motel for overnight. (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Monday, June 8: Kickapoo Caverns State Park and on to Austin

Kickapoo Caverns State Park is not only great for bats it is also home to an abundance of other wildlife – some not easily found elsewhere. We will spend the morning searching for some of the more unique species including porcupine, ringtail cacomistle and gray fox. Varied bunting, gray vireo and Montezuma’s quail are among the bird rarities we hope to see. The park is also home to one of the largest populations of black-capped vireo, so if we haven’t seen it already we have a good chance here. Reptiles and amphibians are abundant in the park and some of the more unusual species include barking frog, Texas alligator lizard and mottled rock rattlesnake. After a full morning we will begin the long drive back to Austin. Once in Austin we will settle into the Hampton Inn Austin Airport and prepare for our farewell dinner at the exclusive Restaurant Jezebel. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Tuesday, June 9: Austin to Raleigh/Durham

We will have an early breakfast at our hotel before departing for the airport and our flight from Austin to Dallas. Once we arrive in Dallas we will transfer to our flight to Raleigh/Durham and should arrive home by mid afternoon. (B)

* Please note that EcoQuest Travel, Inc. will make every effort to adhere to this itinerary, but dates, times, activities and prices are subject to change depending on scheduling and availability.