Hail to the Trail!

The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail
By Mary-Love Bigony
  |  Gorp.com
Texas Gulf Coast
Pine and hardwood forests echo with the trill of warblers and the tattoo of woodpeckers at the easternmost end of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. Swamps and creeks lace the forest, the result of an average annual rainfall in excess of 40 inches. On the opposite end of the trail, in the South Texas Brush Country, the raspy calls of cactus wrens and the chinks of pyrrhuloxias ring out across brushlands of cenizo and huisache. Annual rainfall here is less than 15 inches. Between these two extremes are 500 linear miles and countless hundreds more miles in a series of loops that make up the longest, most extensive nature trail in the world.

Last fall, three people with a past, present, and future interest in the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail (GTCBT) made a weeklong trek along the entire trail, beginning in the Pineywoods and ending—exhausted, sleep-deprived but happy—on the banks of the Rio Grande near Laredo. While the group didn't drive each of the loops or stop at each of the 308 sites (that would have taken months) they visited representative sites on the trail and gained a sense of its scope and impressive diversity.

Meet the Travelers
Ted Lee Eubanks is president of Fermata, Inc., an Austin-based nature tourism consulting firm. He conceived, designed and executed the plan for the GTCBT under contract with Texas Parks and Wildlife. He traveled thousands of miles visiting every single one of the trail's 308 sites during the planning process, but this was his first time to drive its entire length.

Bob Behrstock of Houston is a biological consultant working for Fermata who did many of the site evaluations for the trail. For the last 19 years, he has led birding tours to various locations around the world.

Linda Campbell is a biologist with TPW's Wildlife Diversity Program, which manages the GTCBT. As the agency's nature tourism coordinator and project leader for the GTCBT, Linda wanted to drive the trail as tourists would, making sure the signs were easy to follow and acquainting herself with the trail's offerings.

GORP thanks Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine for permission to use this article.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 8 Nov 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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