Spring Birding in Texas

An RV Road Trip can be the Ideal Way to Experience Spring Birding in Texas!

2025001/1600AUTO3/28/09In my mind, there are three types of birders.

Type 1: Hey, look at that… pretty bird. Hmmm. Wish I had binoculars.

Type 2: Hey, look at that Roseate Spoonbill (calls bird by name). Here, look through my super-sharp high-powered binoculars. This one’s a juvenile. You can tell because it’s still got a pale pinkish-white feathered head.(Pays attention to details.)

Type 3: Hey, drop what you’re doing THIS INSTANT and head to (insert name of someplace obscure). There’s been a (fill in the blank with a rare bird) sighting there and we have to check it off our life list NOW!

DSCN1820On most of my RV trips, I’m a Type 1, with occasional aspirations of achieving Type 2. My friends and fellow RV enthusiasts Sharon and Jeff Richardson are firmly in the Type 2 camp with occasional Type 3 tendencies.

Because spring birding is such a big deal in Texas,  I asked Sharon for a few tips.

Birding 1“We experienced the migration at the Upper Texas Coast last spring, and realized that we had witnessed the premier springtime birding event by catching glimpses of the Warblers and hundreds of other types of song birds arriving from across the Gulf,” she said. “We birded along the coast and saw the tons of shorebirds and were totally enamored with Roseate Spoonbills, Whooping Cranes and all the Herons and Egrets.”

6.720001/350AUTO11/10/09This year, Sharon and Jeff explored the Valley. “WOW,” said Sharon. “We spent 3-1/2 days there, and visited about a dozen sites – not counting pulling off the road when the expert birders who were with us spotted White -tailed Kites and Peregrine Falcons. There are numerous wetlands and nature preserves in the Valley and we didn’t even scratch the surface.”

If you’re hooking up the travel trailer and planning a do-it-yourself birding excursion, you can browse online and learn more about the spring migrations and the species you can find in your own neck of the woods. Check out your local Audubon Society page for starters. The Audubon societies often offer classes and free, guided bird walks on weekends.

Are you a Type 3? Then check out Ebird.org. Sharon says it’s the go-to website when you want to find a particular species, get info on all the birds being seen at specific locations, and post and keep track of your own personal checklists.

I also hear that Sharon’s friend Laurie Foss leads exotic birding trips for JB Journeys, so if you’re inclined to wander internationally, be sure to give Laurie a call.

Last but not least, if you want to connect with other Texas birders, visit the Texbirds Facebook page or become part of their Facebook group for camaraderie, fun photos and lots of information about birds in every corner of the state.

You know, spring break is coming up… Maybe it’s time for us Type 1 people to head out in the RV to check out the “pretty birds” and learn a trick or two from those Type 2 and 3 birders among us! Thanks Sharon!

~G. Elaine Acker

Groundhog Day!

PhilSince 1887, the legendary Punxsutawney Phil pops outside to have a peek at the weather on February 2nd.

After a long winter sleep, he’s taking a look around for his shadow. If he sees it, it’s a sign that six more weeks of bad weather are on the way, and returns to his hole. If there’s no shadow, he says, “Ah! Spring is here!” and stays above ground.

I’ve been reading all about groundhogs (cute little critters!), but especially Phil and the events planned on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It looks like a fun, quirky slice of Americana, and if I lived closer, I’d hook up the Airstream and head that way. There are several RV parks nearby, and if you’re within driving distance, you can find one on GoErie.com!

Cargo RackSo if Phil were the RV-loving type, what would that shadow say about the next few weeks? If he sees his shadow, we should probably spend the next few weeks making plans for all the fun things we’ll do when spring does arrive. Maybe you can get out that maintenance checklist and get your rig ready to roll. Or, maybe you can stock up on a few new gadgets and accessories. I know there are lots of goodies like this cargo rack to hold all the extra toys online in the Camper Clinic II online store.

And if he doesn’t see his shadow, it’s time to roll! I say break out the maps and plan a sweetheart’s road trip for Valentine’s Day, or look ahead to spring break. It’s just a few weeks away!

Have a great Groundhog Day weekend!

~ G. Elaine Acker




“Like” Camper Clinic II and Help Texas State Parks

Vermillion Flycatcher

I’ll share a few photos over the next month from my husband, Bill Reaves, who photographed the great State of Texas for nearly 30 years, and is the former photo editor for Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

Last February’s issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine made it clear: the state parks need our help. “We’ve had a season of record drought and devastating wildfires, and all of that has caused declines in state park visitation and revenue,” said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. “For most of us, this is the drought of a lifetime, and we’ve seen very, very substantial effects on our parks.”

Because we at Camper Clinic II love our parks – and watching the incredible wildlife that live there – we’re excited to launch a new campaign. We’re spreading the word about how people can get involved, and from now through the end of October, we’re donating $1 for every new “Like” on our Facebook page.*

Fox Squirrel

Can you help a squirrel out?

Here are four ways you can help right now:

  1. Go to the Camper Clinic II Facebook page and click “Like.”
  2. Share this post with friends. Anyone, anywhere, who loves the outdoors can make a difference right now with a “Like!”
  3. Send us your photos from your visits to state parks, and of the wildlife you’ve seen, whether in your backyard or along your favorite hiking trail. Be sure to tell us more about the locations you’ve visited and the critters you’ve seen. We’ll share these in a future photo gallery so we can all take a mini vacation!
  4. Plan a visit to a state park. Fall is prime camping season, and there are lots of activities on the park calendars as well!  We’ll share links and suggestions throughout the month of October, and if you hear of any fun events, be sure and send us a note about those as well!

By the way, when you email us YOUR wildlife and park photos, we’ll enter your name in two drawings for FREE Texas State Parks Pass!

We’re looking forward to spending the month with you, going camping, birding, hiking, stargazing… you name it! We’ll cook outdoors, build campfires, and finally, spend Halloween in the parks. Thanks for tagging along!

~ G. Elaine Acker

* Camper Clinic II is donating $1 for every “like” up to $1,500! Thanks for sharing and helping us reach our goal!

Dove Hunting with the Girls

“My dad would never let his little girl go hunting with the boys,” said San Antonio’s Helena Hauk, president of 5th Gear Consulting, which specializes in SBA loans and commercial real estate. But this month, she finally got her chance. She teamed up with a friend at Alamo Title to organize and host the “Annie Get your Gun” ladies dove hunt for their friends and colleagues on a ranch just outside San Antonio.

Girls huntingIn south Texas much of the dove hunting happens on open pastures and agriculture fields, sometimes edged by stands of trees. The birds can be found flying near the water tanks or feeding in sunflower stands planted to dissuade them from dining on the crops. The scenery can be as gorgeous as a Van Gogh painting, but the realities of a hunting trip also include dog-day summer heat, ticks, chiggers and fire ants. Oh my.

The perfect remedy for those realities is a travel trailer, and Helena knew just whom to call: Dad, who’s otherwise known as Don Goodson, General Manager of Camper Clinic II in Buda. “I grew up in the RV industry and camping,” said Helena. “And I know RVs are the best way to set up a home base at an outdoor event like football games or hunting. We wanted restrooms, A/C, a place to sit out the ‘elements,’ and a place to keep the food safe from the dirt, flies, and… horses. We had some very nosy horses literally nudging us for food!”

Like many Texas gals, Helena grew up handling guns and shooting at ranges, so planning her first dove hunt with friends and colleagues wasn’t a stretch. And everything she needed to know about hunter safety, licenses, and the latest regulations was readily available on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The boys have been enjoying hunts in the great outdoors for centuries. Now, it’s the girls’ turn!

~G. Elaine Acker