Safaris

Daily schedules: Thursday / Friday / Saturday / Sunday

Definitions:

Presentations typically last an hour and can accommodate about 40 participants.
Workshops are more hands-on, are limited to 10-12 participants, and typically last 90-120 minutes.
Safaris are at ranches, parks, or private properties and typically last a morning or afternoon.


All events are subject to change (e.g. by adding more activities). We will contact existing registrants via email if there are new programs or other major changes. Check the website from time to time for new offerings.


FT01t – Departs Thursday (3/15/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:30am, approximately 4.5 hours
FT01f – Departs Friday (3/16/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:30am, approximately 4.5 hours
FT01s – Departs Saturday (3/17/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:30am, approximately 4.5 hours
FT02ss – Departs Sunday (3/18/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:30am, approximately 4.5 hours

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL AT PAURAQUE RIDGE
Guide: Robert Benson

This is a half-day adventure to Pauraque Ridge, home of Master Naturalist Karen Benson and award-winning wildlife photographer Robert Benson. Pauraque Ridge is a splendid example of good old south Texas brush country with stately live oaks sprinkled overhead. The Bensons feed wildlife all year long and have permanent photo blinds in place. In March, birds are swarming to well-stocked feeders and using natural-looking setups so human-made objects will not distract from your art. Expect to get hundreds of close-up shots of local specialties like Green Jays, Audubon’s Orioles, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, rose-colored House Finches, and other interesting seed eaters. Do not be surprised to get super shots of Great Kiskadees, White-eyed Vireos, and Long-billed Thrashers. Who knows what else might be around?

You will be free to walk the nature trails in search of early spring butterflies and wildflowers.  March is the best time for a chance to photograph the hard-to-get Falcate Orangetip. By April, they will be gone.

You will benefit from Robert’s extensive knowledge of the brush country and hands-on experience at capturing those perfect contest-winning images. He will be there to offer pointers and give advice. You will not soon forget this trip. Transportation to and from Pauraque Ridge will be provided, along with drinks and snacks.

$85 | Limit 7 |


FT02t – Departs Thursday (3/15/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:00am, approximately 5.5 hours
FT02f – Departs Friday (3/16/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:00am, approximately 5.5 hours
FT02s – Departs Saturday (3/17/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:00am, approximately 5.5 hours

FENNESSEY RANCH
Guide: Ruth Hoyt

The Fennessey Ranch is a south Texas treasure. The ranch is part of a legendary 750,000-acre Texas land empire that has remained in the same family for 171 years. The ranch consists of 4,000 acres of abundant wetlands, meadows, natural lakes, riparian woods and brush lands. The property is bordered on three sides by the beautiful Mission River. Want to take home some wildlife photos of which you will be proud? Ruth Hoyt knows the Fennessey well. She knows where to go on the vast ranch, which photo blinds to use, and how to capture spectacular images that any photographer will cherish. She will offer guidance and tips that will help you take your skills to the next level. You will thrill at the bounty of wildlife, flora, and beautiful vistas at every turn. The combination of one of the best locations in South Texas for wildlife photography and one of the best wildlife photographers in South Texas, makes this Safari a “can’t miss” adventure. Transportation to and from the ranch will be provided, along with drinks and snacks.

$125 | Limit 6 |


FT03f – Departs Friday (3/16/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:00am, approximately 5.5 hours
FT03s – Departs Saturday (3/17/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:00am, approximately 5.5 hours
FT01ss – Departs Sunday (3/18/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:00am, approximately 5.5 hours
CHOKE CANYON STATE PARK
Guide: Dave Allen

 

Here you will find a wide variety of wildlife living in dense thickets of mesquite and blackbush acacia. Rio Grande turkey, white-tailed deer, javelina, coyote, opossum, fox squirrel, raccoon and various skunks are among the most common animals. Choke Canyon is the westernmost place you can find alligators, common in the park. American Birding Asso­ci­a­tion has rec­og­nized Choke Canyon Res­er­voir as a place of special im­por­tance for birds and bird­watchers. Large numbers and varieties of birds come to the water and to the adjacent uplands. Many typically Mexican species of birds are near the northern limits of their range here. As a result, this is one of Texas’ finest places to photograph birds.

Expect the unexpected. The turkeys, the deer, and the javelina are unmolested and acclimated to humans being in their world. It is common to see these unconcerned animals blocking the road as you try to make your way around the park. Dave Allen is a master at hand-held long-lens photography and will help you get those eyeball-to-eyeball shots of some of these birds and mammals. Bring your longest lens and expect to take home some prizes. Transportation to and from the Choke Canyon will be provided, along with drinks and snacks.

$100 | Limit 8 |


Wildfred Korth and Claire Barnhart

FT03t – Departs Thursday (3/15/2018) from Yonder Inn at 7:00am, approximately 4 hours
FT04f – Departs Friday (3/16/2018) from Yonder Inn at 7:00am, approximately 4 hours
FT04s – Departs Saturday (3/17/2018) from Yonder Inn at 7:00am, approximately 4 hours

COLETO CREEK LAKE ROOKERY
Guide: Wilfred Korth

ALERT:  You cannot miss this one. Here is a chance to stretch your photography wings. Designed for the adventurous-set, this Safari is a guided tour to one of the most spectacular rookeries in Texas. There is a small island in the middle of Coleto Creek Lake that hosts huge concentrations of herons and egrets just waiting to be in front of your lens. Expect to see Anhingas, Roseate Spoonbills, and many other species among the estimated 5000 birds on this island. There is an active Bald Eagle nest in the area and you might get a chance at a flight shot of these majestic birds. Expect to see many ducks and coots and maybe even some shorebirds and gulls. Now here is the fun part. You will be traveling the short distance from the lake shore to the island by kayak. We have arranged for 8 kayaks to be available. These are easy-handling two person sit-on-top kayaks with only you and your equipment aboard, so expect lots of room.

Coleto Creek Park is located midway between Goliad and Victoria on highway 59. The 190-acre park is on a 3,100-acre reservoir with sandy beaches and 61-miles of shoreline. Your guide will be Wilfred Korth (retired Coleto Creek Park manager), a Texas Master Naturalist. You will be photographing from the water and at safe distance from the birds, but close enough for great photos. This means you will need to carefully organize your equipment and protect it from dripping kayak paddles. Dry bags are recommended. We will provide inexpensive dry bags if you don’t have one. Note: You will need to provide your own transportation from Beeville to Coleto Creek Park (about 40 miles).

Though he will not be providing photographic instruction, Wilfred knows Coleto Creek like no one else. He managed the park property for 37 years.

$85 | Limit 8 |


FT08t – Departs Thursday (3/15/2018) from Yonder Inn at 3:30pm, approximately 4 hours
FT09f – Departs Friday (3/16/2018) from Yonder Inn at 3:30pm, approximately 4 hours
FT09s – Departs Saturday (3/17/2018) from Yonder Inn at 3:30pm, approximately 4 hours

LAWSON WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Guide: Karen L. P. Benson

The Lawson Wildlife Sanctuary is a “postage stamp” sized private reserve in far western Bee County. The owner, Dr. Nancy Lawson, has cultivated her relatively small homestead (surrounded by large ranches), into one of the premiere wildlife watching and photography sites in the region. She has gently carved by hand, beautiful nature trails that wind throughout her sloping brush-covered land. It is one of the only accessible locations in Bee County where photographers encounter face-to-face experiences with wild bobcats, javelina, and many species of birds hard to get anywhere else. Birds commonly photographed at her well-stocked feeders are Green Jays, White-tipped Doves, and Pyrrhuloxia. This is a Safari that will not disappoint. Your guide will be Karen Benson, Texas Master Naturalist and nature columnist.

Though she will not be providing photographic instruction, Karen knows the Brush Country and its plants and animals and will help you find some great photo opportunities.

$85 | Limit 6 | (late afternoon)


Chris Deadman-WinstonFT04t – Departs Thursday (3/15/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:00am, approximately 5.5 hours
FT05f – Departs Friday (3/16/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:00am, approximately 5.5 hours
FT05s – Departs Saturday (3/17/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:00am, approximately 5.5 hours
FT03ss – Departs Sunday (3/18/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:00am, approximately 5.5 hours


LA RAMIREÑA RANCH
, Dinero, TX
Guide: Chris Deadman-Winston

Chris Deadman-Winston has known the owners of the La Ramireña Ranch (the Phillips family) her whole life. She guides photographers and nature lovers at the ranch and it was her base location for five months during the recent Wildlife in Focus photography competition. She knows this Brush Country ranch like no other photographer.

You will begin by visiting an artesian well that delivers fresh water into a cattail pond.  Chris will share the history of the pond and well.

The next destination will be a pond referred to as the “hog tank.”  The hog tank is frequented by Great Kiskadees, Green Jays, Pyrrhuloxia, Lark Sparrows, Olive Sparrows, Inca Doves, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, and Black-crested Titmice.  There should be good opportunities for photography here.

From the hog tank, you will move to the cliff along the back portion of the 1100-acre property.  You will be delighted with the photo ops here owing to your elevated position, overlooking the great brushy habitat on the ranch.  From the cliff, you will be moved along  “Turkey Road” to stocked feeders that bring in white-tailed deer and Rio Grande Turkeys.  It is common to encounter javelinas among the live oaks trees near the feeders.  Have your camera ready.

Next stop will be Ramireña Creek where you may encounter alligators taking advantage of some mid-March sunshine.  Birds often seen here are, Ruby Crowned Kinglets, and Blue-Grey Gnatcatchers.  Other ranch specialties are Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Groove-billed Anis, Greater Roadrunners, Green and Belted Kingfishers, Harris’ Hawks and Cooper’s Hawks.  The gorgeous Scissor-tailed Flycatchers arrive back in Texas in March, so there is a chance for good “birds in flight” shots of these specialties.  Do not forget to take a couple of landscapes while you are there, especially one with Lake Corpus Christi in the background.

Though Chris is an accomplished photographer, the emphasis of this workshop is more about providing unique photography opportunities than about photography instruction.

$100 | Limit 6 |


FT05t – Departs Thursday (3/15/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:30am, approximately 4.5 hours
FT06f – Departs Friday (3/16/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:30am, approximately 4.5 hours


POESTA CREEK PLACE (Jimmy Jackson)

Guide: Cissy Beasley

The Poesta Creek Place is a jewel of a spot just on the west side of Beeville. The property (home of well-known naturalist Jimmy Jackson) lies along the Poesta Creek that runs through the city and on to the Aransas River. There are many photo opportunities helped by well stocked feeding stations and dripping water. An old barn on the property is the home of nesting Barn Owls that will be one of the target species.

Award-winning nature photographer Cissy Beasley leads this trip. Cissy is a master of the “Making do with What You Have” philosophy. The idea is that you can capture rewarding wildlife photos just about anywhere you are if you know how to “see” what is there. Being on Safari with Cissy Beasley is always an experience you’ll remember.

$85 | Limit 7 |


FT06t – Departs Thursday (3/15/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:30am, approximately 4.5 hours
FT08f – Departs Friday (3/16/2018) from Yonder Inn at 4:30pm, approximately 4.5 hours
FT07s – Departs Saturday (3/17/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:30am, approximately 4.5 hours

BRUSH COUNTRY LANDSCAPES
Guide: Stephen Fisher

Landscape photography presents a special challenge in South Texas. The region lacks the wide-open vistas with majestic mountains on the horizon and piercingly clear air found in the western deserts. You will not find a sea of spectacular reds and yellows and oranges associated with eastern hardwood forests in the autumn. However, if one knows the country and develops the right eye for seeing the possibilities, it is a rich and productive place to find special opportunities to practice the art of landscape photography. Many of the common brush species are in full flower in March. After spring rains, the cenizo fills the more xeric spaces with purple blooms. Known for its wildflower shows, the region begins its March displays of reds and blues (depending on weather) and progresses to the whites and yellows as the season moves toward summer. Unlike the sometimes fast action of other wildlife photography, landscape photography is about careful deliberate planning and getting you ready for the special moment when the light is just perfect. Showing you how is what this Safari is all about. Oh, we need to mention the sunsets. Not as often as we wish, but the sunsets can be breathtaking.

$85 | Limit 7 |


The Green Jay Cottage

FT07t – Departs Thursday (3/15/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:30am, approximately 4.5 hours
FT07f – Departs Friday (3/16/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:30am, approximately 4.5 hours
FT08s – Departs Saturday (3/17/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:30am, approximately 4.5 hours

BARNHART Q5 RANCH AND NATURE RETREAT
Guide: Sylvia Garcia-Smith

The Barnhart Q5 Ranch and Nature Retreat is situated just north of the quaint community of Berclair, Texas (home of the regionally famous Berclair Mansion). It is a good example of Texas brush and is a haven for various plants and animals. The ranch has constructed permanent photo blinds at strategic locations, and the property is use regularly as part of the well-known Wildlife in Focus photo contest. Besides being managed to preserve its wildlife, the property is a working ranch, with a few cattle and a small herd of miniature Mediterranean donkeys. The ranch has very nice (but limited) lodging available year round. If you are interested in making reservations for the Photo Safari, check out the Green Jay Cottage or the Hummingbird House.

$85 | Limit 7 |


FT06s – Departs Saturday (3/17/2018) from Yonder Inn at 6:30am, approximately 3 hours

COASTAL BEND COLLEGE WALKING TRAIL
Guide: Cissy Beasley

This Safari might better be called “Taking Advantage of What You Have.” Coastal Bend College has invested in a winding mile-long walking and nature trail that coils around the backside of campus. Visitors will find open spaces, wooded areas, and even a small pond that often holds interesting butterflies, dragonflies, plants, and birds. Your trip leader, Cissy Beasley is a master at finding those perfect photos in places you would not expect to find perfect opportunities for photography. Designed for beginners and intermediate level photographers, Cissy will show you how she “sees” those mostly unseen subjects and gets those special images: how to take advantage of what you have in front of you.

$25 | Limit 12 | Beginner Level


FT04ss – Walking Trail at Coastal Bend College Campus at 8:00am, approximately 1.5 hours.

SUNDAY MORNING BIRDING WALK.
Guide: Karen Benson

This Safari is free and open to the public.  No need to register.  Just meet Karen Benson at the east parking lot of Coastal Bend College at 8:00am.  Karen is one of the top birders in south Texas and has a soft-spoken talent for working with birding beginners. Expect a slow and instructive walk around the paved trail behind the main campus.  Karen will point out birds and plants of south Texas and help you learn to identify them.

$00 | Unlimited | Beginner Level