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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Texas: The Rio Grande Valley in Winter

Including Whooping Cranes

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING THE UNITED STATES:  Non-U.S. citizens will need a valid passport and may need a tourist visa or visa waiver.  Consult your nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate for details. Canadian citizens should carry proof of citizenship in the form of a passport or birth certificate. 

COUNTRY INFORMATION:There is no U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information for the USA.  You can access the UK Government Foreign Travel advice for the USA at , and the CIA World Factbook background notes on the United States at .

PACE OF THE TOUR: We usually begin our day between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. and return to the hotel usually between 5 and 6 p.m. On days when we’re looking for species such as parrots and rails, we’ll leave at dusk and may go directly to dinner without the usual break. Although we spend much time on foot, our walks are on flat terrain with numerous pauses.

The boat trip to see the Whooping Cranes is on protected inland waters and is rarely rough. Our craft for this trip also has bathrooms and an enclosed cabin with windows for those who do not want to sit on deck.

HEALTH: Texas presents no real hazards.

Smoking: We request that you do not smoke in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group.

As it may be difficult to replenish supplies of personal medications, please anticipate your needs and bring an adequate supply.

Miscellaneous:  The most common injuries result from spines penetrating the soles of tennis shoes. Virtually every desert plant is armed with thorns or spines and we recommend of at least ankle height as the best safeguard.

Sun: The sun can be intense—a broad-brimmed hat, proper clothing and strong sun screen lotion are essential.

Insects, Arachnids and Chiggers: South Texas has mosquitoes, ticks, and more troublesome still, chiggers. Although insects seldom present a problem in winter, we recommend using insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET. However, care must be taken to avoid getting the DEET repellent on optical equipment as DEET dissolves rubber and plastic and can damage coated lenses. Camping supply stores and outfitters carry some reasonably effective and natural alternatives, such as products containing permethrin 0.5%, that aren’t corrosive.

Fire ants are widely distributed and thoroughly noxious. The leaders will identify the ants at first encounter and remind you frequently to watch where you stand.

We actively look for rattlesnakes and feel lucky to see one. These fascinating reptiles are not a hazard but one always needs to use common sense when dealing with potentially dangerous wild creatures. Scorpions are mostly nocturnal and rarely seen, and the tarantulas occasionally seen on the highway are not dangerous.

CLIMATE: Mid-winter temperatures can vary from the low 40s F to the upper 80s or even low-90s. Temperatures will be a bit chillier on the water and there is always the possibility or rain and/or wind. We suggest bringing several layers of clothing, a rain jacket, and light gloves to be prepared for a variety of conditions.

ACCOMMODATIONS: We will be staying at standard, comfortable motels. WiFi is available throughout.

FOOD: Meals mostly taken in local restaurants are good U.S. standard with excellent Mexican fare and Gulf seafood. Breakfast will typically be at our lodging and lunches may be picnics depending on the day and the weather forecast.

WINGS tours are all-inclusive and no refunds can be issued for any missed tour meals.

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

TRANSPORTATION: We will be traveling by leader-driven 12 or 15 passenger window van or minivan, depending on the group size. Participants should be willing and able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles.

Updated: 10 March 2017