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Birdwatching in the Alpine/Fort Davis Area

Blue Grosbeak, image from National Audubon Society

Blue Grosbeak, image from National Audubon Society

Please read the information below carefully. Do sign up with Scott Cutler at 915-494-2193. You can come for all or part of the trip. Just be sure to keep Scott’s phone number handy.

The Alpine/Fort Davis area of the Davis Mountains is one of the premier birding locations in Texas and just a short 3-hours trip from El Paso. It is also one of the most beautiful places in Texas and well worth a visit. On this trip, you will visit some of the best places for birding. These include the Davis Mountains State Park, the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, Oasis at Post Park and others. Each participant will be responsible for his or her food, lodging and transportation. Carpooling is encouraged. Our base will be in Alpine, Texas. We recommend your using and make reservations as soon as possible. Those wishing to attend the McDonald Observatory Star Party on Saturday night will need to make their own reservations and arrange transportation.

Contact Scott Cutler at 915-494-2193 with questions and to sign up.

When you sign up for the trip, let Scott know if you want to ride with someone or will drive yourself. If you are driving, let Scott know if you will have space for extra passengers who may need a ride. Scott will try to help match drivers with passengers if needed. You can come for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday excursion or catch up with us on Saturday if you wish. Just be sure to have Scott’s phone number handy so you can find out where we are.

Scott will be staying at the Quality Inn at 2401 E Highway 90 in Alpine (just east of the center of town). This will be the official starting point for trips during the outing. You can stay at the Quality Inn or stay at another hotel of your choice. The America’s Best hotel & a Holiday Inn Express are near the Quality Inn. There are a number of other hotels in town (Hampton Inn, Holland Hotel, Maverick Inn, Highland Inn to choose from.

We will be visiting the Pena Colorado Post Park and Gage Gardens in Marathon, the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, Davis Mountains State Park, and Madera Canyon (part of The Nature Conservancy’s lands in the Davis Mountains) in the Fort Davis area, and Balmorhea Lake and Sandia Wetlands in the Balmorhea area. A detailed itinerary will be given out to those that sign up.

Tentative Itinerary

On Friday morning, September 20th, 8:00am, we will meet in the Starbucks parking lot at the corner of Airway Blvd and Interstate Highway 10 next to the Best Western Plus hotel. (MAP) From there we will drive to Van Horn then take Hwy 90 to Alpine where we will have lunch. Then it is on to Marathon on Hwy 90 to visit the Pena Colorado Post Park and the Gage Gardens. We will bird until about 5 or 6 pm then have dinner in Marathon. We will head back to Alpine and check into our hotel(s).

Saturday morning we will get an early start (7:30am), meeting at the Quality Inn. We will spend an hour or so at the Kokernot Municipal Park in Alpine before heading to the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute and see what shows up at the feeders and the botanical garden (opens at 9am; $6.00 entrance fee; free to CDRI members). We can stop in Fort Davis for lunch around 11:30 or 12. From there, we will continue up Highway 118, passed the McDonald Observatory to the Madera Canyon trailhead at the Lawrence E Wood picnic area. We will spend some time walking the trail and seeing what shows up in the oaks of the picnic area. On our way back to Alpine, we will stop at the Davis Mountains State Park ($6.00 entry fee; if you have a State Park Pass be sure to bring it for reduced entry fee) and check out the afternoon birds at their viewing blinds. We will get back to Alpine around 5 pm and have dinner at a local restaurant.

Sunday morning we will leave our hotels at 7:00 am and head back to the Davis Mountains State Park (another $6.00 entry fee) for a look at the morning’s avian visitors to the bird blinds as well as walk around the tent camping area which often produces some good birds. Upon leaving the park, we will get on Hwy 17 to the Balmorhea area and stop at the Balmorhea Lake and Sandia Wetlands. Coming back on Interstate 10, if there is time and interest, we will stop at the McNary Reservoir before returning home to El Paso.

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