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Birding in America's "Birdiest Small Coastal City"

Program Number: 19967RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/4/2013 - 2/8/2013;
Duration: 4 nights
Location: Port Aransas, Texas
Price starting at: $733.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Birding
Meals: 12; 4 Breakfasts, 1 Brunch, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners    

Roseate Spoonbills, Northern Harriers, Tricolor Herons, Cormorants, Brown Pelicans and Pied-billed Grebes – just a few of the usual inhabitants of the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center in Port Aransas on Mustang Island. On this active birding program, head out into open gulf beach, protected bays, salt flats, mud flats, prairies, freshwater ponds and brackish estuarine areas in search of many of the more than 400 species of birds spotted here throughout the year. See why Port Aransas was deemed the country's "birdiest small coastal city" of 2012.


• At the Leonabell Turnbull Birding Center, see shorebirds, ducks, warblers, raptors, rails and alligators.
• Watch for warbler fallouts at Paradise Pond, a freshwater staging ground for birds about to cross the Gulf.
• Accompanied by experts, learn about local bird populations, as well as the fascinating ecology of the area.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile on mostly smooth paths, occasional uneven terrain.

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


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.

Comfortable hotel 2½ blocks from Gulf beach.
Meals and Lodgings
   Best Western Ocean Villa
  Port Aransas, TX 4 nights
 Best Western Ocean Villa
Type: Motel
  Description: Located approximately 2 1/2 blocks from the Gulf beach and close to shops and restaurants. Trolley stops in front of hotel.
  Contact info: 400 E Avenue G
Port Aransas, TX 78373 USA
phone: 361-749-3010
  Room amenities: Guest Room Amenities: •Cable satellite television •In-room movies HBO •Free local calls under 30 minutes •Free long distance access •Dataports •Wake-up calls •AM/FM alarm clock •Hairdryer •Iron, ironing board •Coffee/tea maker •Refrigerator •Microwave •Desk/work area •Electronic key card locks •Cribs available •Rollaway beds available •Air-conditioning •Free wireless internet access available in public areas, and all guest rooms •Complimentary newspaper available at front desk
  Facility amenities: Continental breakfast • choice of breads • cereal • fruit • eggs • yogurt • juice • and hot items. Hotel Amenities: •Outdoor pool •Game room •Safe deposit box •Ice/vending machines •Public areas accessible by physically challenged •Braille coded exit ways •Access ramps •Free parking •Meeting facilities •Fax services •Photocopy services •High-speed Internet access •Exterior corridor •Higher rates may apply for holidays/special events •Free wireless internet available in public areas; Free in-room wireless internet access; Free wireless internet access available in public areas and all guest rooms; All guest rooms are hardwired and offer free wireless internet access; All guest rooms are hardwired for internet access
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: Call hotel for price Reservations for additional nights must be made directly with the hotel. We cannot make those reservations for you.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call hotel for price Reservations for additional nights must be made directly with the hotel. We cannot make those reservations for you.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
4:30 pm You will be staying at Best Western Ocean Villa that night.
  End of Program:
10 am You will be staying at Best Western Ocean Villa the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Release form required by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. Sign/witness and mail to: University of Texas Marine Science Institute 750 Channel View Drive Port Aransas, TX 78373
  Parking availability:
Free parking is available at the Best Western.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Port Aransas, TX
  Nearest highway: Hwy. 361
  Nearest airport:  Corpus Christi
  From End of Program
  Location: Port Aransas, TX
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Corpus Christi


From Airport




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:


Up to 1 hour 




40 miles


There is limited public transportation available in the area. All major car rental companies are available at the airport. We recommend making a reservation 24 hours in advance. Make sure you have you flight arrival time and flight number handy when you call, and confirm the price. Check out the Corpus Christi International Airport website for details.

Driving Directions
  Corpus Christi There are two main approaches to Mustang Island and Port Aransas: 1. Take I 37 to Corpus Christi and turn south on Hwy.358 (Padre Island Drive) Continue through CC on Hwy.358 (358 becomes Park Road 22) to Hwy.361(at the light on Padre Island). Turn left on 361 to Port Aransas. Go to the light at 361 and Ave.G, turn right on Ave. G and proceed to the Best Western Ocean Villa on the right. 2. Take Hwy. 35 through Aransas Pass to Hwy. 361. Follow the signs to Port Aransas across the causeway and to the free 24 hour passenger car ferry for the short ride across the ship channel.When you get off the ferry, turn right at the first light. Continue on that road through the second light and the Best Western will be on your right.
  Corpus Christi Airport Head east on Int'l Dr for 0.7 mi. Turn right at Agnes St/TX-44 E (signs for I-44 E) 0.2 mi Merge onto TX-44 E via the ramp on the left to Bayfront/Padre Island/I-37/TX-358 1.7 mi Take the exit onto N Padre Island Dr/TX-358 W toward Bayfront/I-37 1.4 m. Take the exit onto I-37 S toward Bayfront/Shoreline Blvd 4.4 mi Take the exit onto US-181 N toward Portland/TX-35 10.2 miContinue on TX-35 N 20.6 mi Turn right at FM-3036/TX-35 Turn left at TX-35. continue on to Best Western on the left.
  From the North (San Antonio) Take Highway 37 South to Corpus Christi. Exit Hwy. 358 (South Padre Island Drive) and travel south to Padre Island. On Padre Island, turn left at the light on Hwy. 361 leading to Mustand Island and Port Aransas. Go to Ave. G in Port Aransas at the light and turn right. The Best Western Ocean Villa will be two blocks down on the right.
Elevation Note: We don't get much higher than 25 feet above sea level!

Equipment Requirements: Binoculars are required and an updated field guide. Birds of North America or, Eastern Bird Guide usually work well.
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: Welcome, Dinner at Jay's Seafood and Spaghetti Works, Birding 101 with Nan
(Monday, February 4)
 Afternoon: Welcome to Port Aransas, orientation and introductions.
 Dinner: We'll enjoy a delicious dinner at one of Port Aransas' favorite dining spots,
 Evening: Nan Dietert will begin our birding 101 class with a lecture and presentation about shore birds.
Accommodations: Best Western Ocean Villa
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Beach Birding, Salt Marsh, Local Birding Hot Spots
(Tuesday, February 5)
 Breakfast: After an early breakfast, we'll head out to the beach to look for shore birds. Our birding guides will set up scopes and point out the identifying marks on the birds we'll see. Our next stop will be the University of Texas Marine Science Institute for a tour of the salt marsh and a brief introduction to the local ecology.
 Lunch: Lunch with Chef Robert in the UT cafeteria will be followed by an afternoon of birding hot spots. We may visit the bay, some fresh water ponds, or one of the local birding sites. We'll go where the birds are the best!
 Dinner: Light dinner (and a yummy dessert) at Miss K's Bistro will be followed by another birding lecture from Nan our wonderful bird guide.
Accommodations: Best Western Ocean Villa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, Paradise Pond and Picnic in the Park
(Wednesday, February 6)
 Breakfast: Breakfast will be followed by a field trip to the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. The Birding Center is home to herons, egrets, grebes, rails, cormorants, pelicans, and many other birds. It is also an attractive stopover for our many migrants. Warblers are found in the trees and reeds, raptors fly over and sometimes swoop in for lunch, early ducks spend the day dabbling in the water, and spoonbills add a splash of bright pink as they fly over or feed in the back ponds. After we've had our fill of delicious birds at the Birding Center, we'll head for Paradise Pond. Many small birds stop here for a rest before they start the long flight over the Gulf of Mexico.
 Lunch: We'll enjoy a relaxing, catered picnic lunch at Robert's Point Park where we can watch ships, dolphins and birds as we rest up before our afternoon on the beach. We'll walk from the South Jetty back to our hotel on Avenue G. As we walk the beach, we'll keep our eyes open for terns, gulls, and sandpipers at the same time keeping our eyes peeled for other beach treasures, like seastars, sharks teeth etc.
 Dinner: Dinner on the bay front at Virginia's is wonderful way to end the day. We'll return to the hotel for more Birding 101.
Accommodations: Best Western Ocean Villa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie's Pasture, More Birding Hot Spots and a South Texas Shrimp Boil
(Thursday, February 7)
 Breakfast: Breakfast will be followed by a trip to the Nature Preserve. We'll walk the board walk, led by Nan Dietert. We'll be on the look out for plovers, sparrows, sandpipers, ducks, raptors and wandering warblers. The tower at the end of the boardwalk looks over marshes, sand-flats and coastal prairie. The view is great and the birding is excellent.
 Lunch: After lunch we'll follow the birds. Our guides are always in touch with other local birders and we'll go to the best spots to increase our list of species!
 Dinner: Our final evening will begin with a Texas shrimp boil, a local tradition. After dinner we'll go over the bird list and talk about our target birds for the final morning.
Accommodations: Best Western Ocean Villa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Birding hot spots, brunch and good-byes.
(Friday, February 8)
 Breakfast: After breakfast we'll head out for our final birding field trip. We may go back to the Birding Center, Paradise Pond, the beach or hit a new spot. We'll go to the best spot to end with a bang.
 Brunch: We will have a boxed lunch to-go back at the hotel around 10 am and tally our bird lists. Nan will answer any questions you may have and we'll say good-bye till your next trip to Mustang Island. Check out hotel 11 am.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Brunch

Free Time Opportunities
  Port Aransas, TX Port Aransas History Museum
Our new history museum is a delightful way to spend an hour or two. History from the Karankawa to modern time is covered in the museum.
  Texas Maritime Museum
TheTX Maritime Museum, Fulton Mansion and Goose Island State Park are all located in Rockport.
  Texas State Aquarium
The Texas State Aquarium, Museum of Science and History, Columbus Ships and USS Lexington are all located in downtown Corpus Christi.
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

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.

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