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South Texas Wildlife and Bird
Photo Tour and Workshop

No future trip currently being planned

2 days at Laguna Seca, 2 at Santa Clara Photo Ranches

Includes most 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 2019 Trip Report

pGolden-fronted Woodpecker

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

Scaled Quail, Black-crested Titmouse, Ground Squirrel


Luguna Seca Ranch is comprised of 700 acres of pristine brush land and is one of the oldest, working family owned ranches in the area. It is operated by one of the owners, Gene Gwin. Gene is an accomplished photographer in his own right and is a staunch conservationist, turning parts of his ranch into one of the top photo ranches in the area.

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 and accomplished photographer who won the Coastal Bend Photo Competition in the past and who now runs photo tours throughout the world. So I can say that we will be in very good hands throughout our photo tour at both of these ranches.

Located in beautiful south Texas, both ranches have several below-ground blinds set up at different 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.

These two private ranches, along with the many nearby wildlife refuges, provide 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 both ranches also have many of the Mexican native species which have spilled over this way.

Why is this Tour so Special and Unique?

One of the greatest advantages of this tour is that we visit two different photo ranches, each with its own photo settings and opportunities. we also offer exclusivity; both ranches are privately owned properties and are fenced 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 if we have time, and weather permiting, we will instruct and demonstrate the use of this equipment in an actual shooting situation. And here is where you'll either love this idea or not:


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 or SD 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:

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.


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.

a p


Trip #1: April 22-27, 2022 (waitlisted)

Friday, April 22:

              Arrive by mid-afternoon (after 4:00pm) at the group's hotel in               Edinburg, TX
              Orientation and welcome dinner
              Overnight, Edinburg

Saturday-Sunday, April 23 & 24:

              Continental breakfast in your room (we may be able to catch
              breakfast at the hotel before we leave for the morning shoot)
              Morning and afternoon shoots at Laguna Seca Ranch, possibly an               evening shoot

              Lunch and dinner on your own (taken either together as a group or               individually, depending on our shooting schedule and subjects)
Overnight, Edinburg

Monday, April 25:

              Breakfast at the hotel
Check out late morning and drive to Santa Clara Ranch
Check in and lunch at the ranch
Afternoon shoot at one of the blinds
Dinner and overnight, Santa Clara Ranch

Tuesday, April 26:

              Morning, afternoon and possibly evening shoots
All meals included at this ranch
Overnight, Santa Clara Ranch

Wednesday, April 27:

              Early continental breakfast and check out of rooms
Morning shoot in the blinds
10:30am departure from Santa Clara Ranch and end of tour

Trip #2: April 27-May 2, 2022

Wednesday, April 27:

              Arrive by mid-afternoon (2:00pm)
              Orientation, afternoon shoot at one of the blinds
              Dinner and overnight, Santa Clara Ranch

Thursday, April 28:

            Morning, afternoon and possibly evening shoots
            All meals included at this ranch
            Overnight, Santa Clara Ranch

 Friday, April 29:

             Early continental breakfast and check out of rooms
             Morning shoot in the blinds
10:30am departure from Santa Clara Ranch, drive to Edinburg
             Lunch on your own, check in to hotel mid-afternoon (after 2:00pm)              Down time or group session with post processing
             Group dinner (included) and overnight, Edinburg

Saturday-Sunday, April 30 & May 1:

             Continental breakfast in your room (we may be able to catch              breakfast at the hotel before we leave for the morning shoot)
             Morning and afternoon shoots at Laguna Seca Ranch, possibly an              evening shoot

             Lunch and dinner on your own (taken either together as a group or              individually, depending on our shooting schedule and subjects)
             Overnight, Edinburg

Monday, May 2:

             The shoot is officially over - you can leave at your convenience


Included in the price:

Lodging, double occupancy, April 22-27 or April 27-May 1
- Single supplement available in Edinburg $220 in 2022
Double occupancy, ONLY, at Santa Clara Ranch
The following meals are included:
Welcome/group dinner, April 22 or April 29
Breakfast at the hotel in Edinburg, all meals at Santa Clara Ranch
Two full days of shooting on the Laguna Seca Ranch
Two full days of shooting on the Santa Clara Ranch
Tips for the ranch staff

Not Included in the price:

-Transportation is not included.The nearest airport for those flying in is McAllen with a limited number of commuter flights out of Dallas and Houston. The nearest airport of any size is in San Antonio and that is maybe 4 hours from the ranch. If you are interested in sharing a rental car please indicate this on your registration form and we will share that information between the participants.
- Lunches and dinners (except for the one group dinner) in Edinburg
- Trip/cancellation insurance
-Soda or alcoholic beverages at meals
-Optional: additional tips for the ranch staff

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

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Office Phone: 717 543-6423

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