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Exploring the Gulf Coast: Whooping Cranes, Marine Life, King Ranch

Program Number: 7353RJ
Start and End Dates:
1/14/2013 - 1/18/2013;
Duration: 4 nights
Location: Port Aransas, Texas
Price starting at: $969.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Birding Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 12; 4 Breakfasts, 1 Brunch, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners    

For over 70 years The University of Texas Marine Science Institute has been a leader in marine research, education and outreach. Sail aboard the university research vessel and observe abundant marine life and birds along the nutrient rich coastal bays and hear about ongoing marine research. Take a journey inland to the King Ranch, the largest ranch in the United States where birds and wildlife abound. Your trip would not be complete until you cruise along the intracoastal waterway to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge to see endangered whooping cranes in their winter habitat.




Highlights

• Participate in a hands-on research cruise aboard a University research and sample the rich diversity of marine life in the coastal bays and estuaries.
• View magnificent endangered Whooping Cranes, America’s tallest birds, in their natural winter habitat at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
• Take a short ride inland to legendary King Ranch with over 1,000,000 acres of land and view an abundance of birds and wildlife. Travel along backroads to look for green jays, vermilion flycatchers, javelinas, alligators and deer.



Activity Particulars

Walking up to a mile.



So you can get the most out of your experience, all of our Birding programs have a maximum participant-to-instructor ratio of 14:1.




Date Specific Information

1-14-2013

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Coordinated by University of Texas Marine Science Institute.




Port Aransas

Perched on the northern tip of Mustang Island, Port Aransas is a coastal community three hours south of San Antonio. Known for its spectacular birding — almost 500 species migrate here each spring — this part of the Coastal Bend offers deep sea fishing, nature boat outings and miles of beaches.



Accommodations
Comfortable hotel, pool. A few blocks to the Gulf beach.
Meals and Lodgings
   Best Western Ocean Villa
  Port Aransas, Texas 4 nights
 Best Western Ocean Villa
Type: Hotel
  Description: Located approximately 2 1/2 blocks from Gulf beach and close to shops and restaurants.
  Contact info: 400 E. Ave. G
Port Aransas, TX 78373 USA
phone: 361-749-3010
  Room amenities: Standard, well-appointed rooms with 2 queen beds, cable TV, microwave, refrigerator and hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: Internet access in lobby, swimming pool with tropical landscaping and game room with pool table.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call hotel directly for price Reservations for additional nights must be made directly with the hotel. We cannot make these reservations for you.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call hotel directly for price Reservations for additional nights must be made directly with the hotel. We cannot make these reservations for you.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
4:30 pm orientation in hotel meeting room. You will be staying at Best Western Ocean Villa that night.
  End of Program:
Ends at 10:00 am. Hotel check out is11am. You will be staying at Best Western Ocean Villa the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Liability release is required for all University of Texas programs
  Parking availability:
Free parking at hotel.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Port Aransas, Texas
  Nearest city or town:  Corpus Christi, Texas
  Nearest highway: Hwy 361
  Nearest airport:  Corpus Christi, Texas
  From End of Program
  Location: Port Aransas, Texas
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Corpus Christi

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
American Cab
phone: 361-563-2294
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$75 for up to 5 people
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

45 minutes to 1 hour 

 

Distance:

 

40 miles

   

Be sure you mention both Road Scholar/Elederhostel and The University of Texas Marine Science Institute when you make your reservation. A full list of cabs is available to you at: www.corpuschristiairport.com

 
Driving Directions
  Corpus Christi International Airport To Port Aransas 1. Head east on International Blvd toward Glasson Dr - 0.7 mi 2. Take the 2nd right onto Agnes St - 0.2 mi 3. Take the ramp on the left to TX-358/​I-37/​Padre Island/​Bayfront - 0.1 mi 4. Merge onto TX-44 E - 1.6 mi 5. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for TX-358 E/​NAS-CCAD/​Padre Island and merge onto TX-358 E - 14.1 mi 6. Continue onto John F Kennedy Memorial Causeway (signs for Park Rd 22/​Padre Island) - 5.0 mi 7. Slight right onto S Padre Island Dr/​Park Road 22 - 0.9 mi 8. Turn left onto TX-361 N - 17.5 mi 9. Turn right onto E Avenue G The Best Western Ocean Villa will be two blocks on the right.
  From the North (San Antonio) Take Hwy 37 South to Corpus Christi. Exit Hwy. 358 (South Padre Island Drive and travel south toward Padre Island, road designation changes to Park Road 22. Cross the causeway and take a left at the light on Hwy 361 leading to Mustang Island and Port Aransas, approximately 18 miles. At the light, take a right onto Ave. G. The Best Western Ocean Villa will be two blocks on the right.
Equipment Requirements: Binoculars, preferably 8x42 or 10x50
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival
(Monday, January 14)
   
 Arrive To: Check in hotel at 3 pm
 Afternoon: Meet at 4:30 pm in hotel dining room for a welcome reception and introductions to our new guests.
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant.
 Evening: Discuss schedule for the week, destinations, target birds and binocular use.
   
Accommodations: Best Western Ocean Villa
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Cruise along the shores of the Aransas Wildlife Refuge and learn how the populations of the endangered Whooping crane have slowly been increasing.
(Tuesday, January 15)

Note: Excellent opportunities await to capture photo ops of the endangered whooping crane and other birds aboard the vessel 'Skimmer'.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: Early departure for Fulton Harbor and a fully narrated tour of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge aboard 'The Skimmer'. A wide variety of birds species awaits you on this cruise where you will have an opportunity to view members of the only natural, wild, migrating flock of endangered Whooping Cranes left in the world.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch at Rockport Beach Park weather permitting.
 Afternoon: Visit the Bay Education Center in Rockport where the focus of the exhibits is on the local environment and estuaries. See the breath-taking "Science on the Sphere" exhibit. It's a must see! As we travel back to Port Aransas we will stop for that photo opportunity or special bird.
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant.
 Evening: Presentation TBA
   
Accommodations: Best Western Ocean Villa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Marine Science is todays theme at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute with behind the scenes tours.
(Wednesday, January 16)

Note: Morming hands-on cruise in local bays.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: Cruise along the Aransas Bays while experts will trawl for marine species. Look at plankton samples of many species, and see dolphins up close and personal.
 Lunch: Lunch at the university cafeteria, The Waterfront Café has views overlooking the wetlands and beyond to the Aransas ship channel where you can watch ships and tankers go by as they sail to and from the Gulf of Mexico.
 Afternoon: Guided tour of Fisheries and Mariculture lab for a behind the scenes tour and see how our scientists are raising marine fishes from the larval stage. Followed by a tour of the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) and hear about the care that goes into caring for injured turtles.
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant.
 Evening: DVD on the King Ranch in preparation of your visit the next day.
   
Accommodations: Best Western Ocean Villa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Visit one of the biggest ranches in the world, the King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas
(Thursday, January 17)

Note: See birds that are special to this area; olive sparrow, green jays, vermilion flycatcher and perhaps the Santa Gertrudis and Longhorn cattle.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: Early departure for Santa Gertrudis Division of the King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas for Birding and Wildlife field trip led by King Ranch ornithologist. The historic King Ranch is home to a wide variety of birds and wildlife such as. Green jays, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, Kiskadees, cattle, deer and javelinas are among the many critters seen on the ranch.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch at the visitor area on the King Ranch.
 Afternoon: Head back to Port Aransas and the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. See our winter birds as well as some year-round residents; Herons, ducks, osprey, pelicans, cormorants, rails, grebes and many other species that commonly occupy this scenic area. Wonderful photo opportunities!
 Dinner: Special Farewell Dinner at local restaurant.
 Evening: Attend the highly popular UT Marine Science Institutes Public Lecture Series where scientists give a presentation of their science research, but in a people-friendly manner, of course.
   
Accommodations: Best Western Ocean Villa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5:
(Friday, January 18)

Note: Last chance birding. Program ends at 10 am Boxed lunch provided. Checkout hotel at 11 am



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: Early morning birding trip to a favorite birding location, Paradise Pond, then on to the beach where hopefully we will find that bird that has perhaps eluded you.
 Brunch: Early box lunch around 10:00am which you may take with you, or stay and eat with us at the hotel depending on your own departure schedule. Hotel check out is 11:00pm
   
Meals Included: Breakfast, Brunch
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America


Author: Jon L. Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer


Texas Gulf Coast Stories


Author: C. Herndon Williams


Description: The middle Texas coast, known locally as the Coast Bend, is an area filled with fascinating stories. From as early as the days of de Vaca and La Salle, the Coastal Bend has been a site of early exploration, bloody conflicts, legendary shipwrecks and even a buried treasure or two. However, much of the true history has remained unknown, misunderstood and even hidden. For years, local historian C. Herndon Williams has shared his fascinating discoveries of the area's early stories through his weekly column, "Coastal Bend Chronicle." Now he has selected some of his favorites in Texas Gulf Coast Stories. Join Williams as he explores the days of early settlement and European contact, Karankawa and Tonkawa legends and the Coastal Bend's tallest of tall tales.



The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story


Author: Kathleen Kaska


Description: Millions of people know a little bit about efforts to save the whooping crane, thanks to the movie Fly Away Home and annual news stories about ultralight planes leading migratory flocks. But few realize that in the spring of 1941, the population of these magnificent birdspure white with black wingtips, standing five feet tall with a seven-foot wingspanhad reached an all-time low of fifteen. Written off as a species destined for extinction, the whooping crane has made a slow but unbelievable comeback over the last seven decades. This recovery would have been impossible if not for the efforts of Robert Porter Allen, an ornithologist with the National Audubon Society, whose courageous eight-year crusade to find the only remaining whooping crane nesting site in North America garnered nationwide media coverage. His search and his impassioned lectures about over development, habitat loss, and unregulated hunting triggered a media blitz that had thousands of citizens on the lookout for the birds during their migratory trips. Allens tireless efforts changed the course of U.S. environmental history and helped lead to the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Though few people remember him today, his life reads like an Indiana Jones story, full of danger and adventure, failure and success. His amazing story deserves to be told.



The Sibley Guide to Birds


Author: David Allen Sibley




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