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South Texas Wildlife and Bird
Photo Tour and Workshop

April 22-29, 2019
Limit: 6 photographers
Price: $TBA, double occupancy

2 days at Laguna Seca, 3 1/2 days at Santa Clara Photo Ranches

Includes all meals, lodging, and Instruction.

Please scroll down for more information on our trip, and the full itinerary at the bottom.

For more information, see our 2013 Scouting Report and our 2014 Trip Report, and our 2015 Trip Report

pGolden-fronted Woodpecker

Couch's Kingbird, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scaled Quail, Black-crested Titmouse, Ground Squirrel

 

The Santa Clara is owned by Beto Gutierrez, a physician in the McAllen area and a fine photographer. Santa Clara is managed by Hector Astorga, an incredibly talented young and upcoming photographer who won the Coastal Bend Photo Competition in 2013. So I guess you could say that we will be in very good hands throughout our photo tour.

Located in beautiful south Texas, the ranch has several below-ground blinds set up at the watering holes so photographers can get water level shots of the many and varied species of birds and wildlife that come in to quench their thirst.

This private ranch, along with the many nearby wildlife refuges, provides a well-liked winter refuge and stopping point for the hundreds of migratory birds - songbirds, shore birds and birds of prey. Located close to Mexico it also has many of the Mexican native species which have spilled over this way.

Laguna Seca Ranch is a family owned and operated bird photography ranch. It is comprised if 700 acres of pristine brush land. They are inspired to provide a high quality photography experieince for wildlife enthusiasts!

Why is this Tour so Special and Unique?

One of the greatest advantages that this South Texas Ranch offers is its exclusivity; it is a private, fenced property with controlled access. Consequently, equipment that is left out and unattended for camera trap techniques is safe, and with the normally dry weather in this area rain is (usually) not an issue.

Consequently, weather permitting, we'll be able to set out one or more camera traps to attempt to capture nocturnal wildlife, which may range from bats and bobcats to owls and raccoons.

Most photographers do not have the equipment or the expertise in using camera traps and part of our 'workshop' will be instructing and demonstrating the use of this equipment in an actual shooting situation. And here is where you'll either love this idea or not:

raccoonfox

Realistically, there is usually only one or two 'prime' vantage points on a game trail, watering hole, or flyway, where a camera can be positioned for the best angle and composition. It would be silly to have as many as five or six cameras all crowded into one spot, trying to get that angle, as this might be physically impossible and might also intimidate or repel our subjects.

Alternatively, one could place one camera and have everyone, one by one, put their CF card into that camera so that they'd have a chance to capture that best angle. Of course, photographer three, for example, might have great luck and get a great shot during her time, while everyone else captures nothing during their rotation.

What I'm proposing here is a seminar-like atmosphere where we'll discuss and brainstorm how we'll approach our camera trap set-up, how we'll place the camera trigger and flashes, and how we should compose the one or two cameras involved. Participants will not only learn about the various equipment that can be used for this type of photography but also how to set it up and actually use this equipment in a field situation. However, there's more.

Whatever we capture, everyone involved will get a copy of the RAW files for their personal use. The only restriction on the use of these RAW files is for sales or photo competitions, which would be unlikely I'd suspect. It would be a bit odd if the BBC or Nature's Best received six or seven exact images generated from this shoot! Personal use, for display on your website, for an ebook or Blurb, Shutterfly, or similar book, for prints, etc. there would be no restriction on use.

Although someone might object to this and want to use their CF card for their use only, for the reasons listed above I find that desire a little silly and very unfair. This shooting opportunity may provide you with some real knock-out shots, if luck is with us, that would be unattainable any other way and will also provide you with the information you would need to do this type of work on your own.

Don't worry about the 'seminar' aspect of this exercise. I'll be guiding you throughout, and I'll already have an idea of how we'll be approaching the task, so we won't be stumbling around like novices. Ultimately, if we have luck, you'll have great shots and learn a lot, too!

Our Subjects


We'll have the possibility of a huge variety of birds, as some species may still be migrating north. However, our resident species will keep us quite busy, and could include most of the following, and I'm sure I'm missing many:

bobwhitebunting
Some of the Birds:
Harris Hawk, Crested Caracara, White-tailed Hawk, Eastern Screech Owl, Great Horned Owl, Roadrunner, Bobwhite Quail, Scaled Quail,Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Common Poorwill, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Grove-billed Ani, Long-billed Thrasher, Curve-billed Thrasher, Mockingbird, Western and Couch's Kingbird, Vermillion Flycatcher, Kiskadee Flycatcher, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Chihuahuan Raven, Green Jay, Yellowthroat, Black-crested Titmouse, Verdin, Black-throated Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Pyrrhuloxia, Painted Bunting, Audubon’s Oriole, Bronzed Cowbird, Olive Sparrow, Lark Sparrow.

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Some of the Reptiles and Amphibians:
Indigo Snake, Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Desert Kingsnake, Racers, Whipsnakes, Coachwhip,
Fence Lizard, Banded Geckos, Reticulate Collared Lizards,
Desert Tortoise,
Leopard Frog, Mexican Burrowing Frog,
Couch's Spadefoot Toad.

 

sSome of the Mammals: Opossum, Armadillo, White-tailed Deer, Collared Peccary, Gray Fox, Coyote, Bobcat, Raccoon, Skunk sp., Badger, Desert Cottontail, Mexican Spotted Groundsquirrel

Of course, in four days of shooting we won't photograph all of these species, but this gives you a sampling of the variety of species available and that have been photographed in the past. Pretty darn exciting!
I'm especially excited about the possibilities we may have at night, with bobcats and other nocturnal mammals visiting a waterhole or wandering down a game trail.

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We look forward to seeing you on this photo tour to South Texas. Contact the office for registration forms or for any questions.

About Your Leaders

Contact us by e-mail at

info@hoothollow.com

Office Phone: 717 543-6423
Or FAX us at: (717) 543-5342

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