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by rene on Tue Nov 23, 2021 1:50 pm
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I’m It’s been long time on my radar : a 1 1/2- 2 week trip to 2-3 ranches in Texas. I know there are various options but I was wondering if anyone could make some suggestions of 2-3 ranches which are not too far from each other with good photographic possibilities for mammals and of course birds and hotels in the vicinity . What would be a good time to go in 2022? Where would one fly to from London? Preferably direct flights. I could also be interested to go organised with a US based operator. 
Thanks for any information/websites/contact details. 
Rene 
 

by E.J. Peiker on Tue Nov 23, 2021 2:23 pm
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Others will chime in on the ranches that are best these days but no matter which ones you go to, you are not getting there non-stop. You can get non-stop to Houston or Dallas but will need to take a connecting flight, most likely to McAllen or maybe Brownsville.
 

by rene on Tue Nov 23, 2021 2:32 pm
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E.J. Peiker wrote:
Others will chime in on the ranches that are best these days but no matter which ones you go to, you are not getting there non-stop.  You can get non-stop to Houston or Dallas but will need to take a connecting flight, most likely to McAllen or maybe Brownsville.


Thanks EH..yes I just found that out! So be it .
Regards
Rene 
 

by david fletcher on Tue Nov 23, 2021 3:15 pm
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Hi Rene. Have a nose around the site in the birds gallery. No affiliation whatsoever, but if I were planning a trip, I'd look at a couple that routinely produce quality regularly here. Best that others chime in as EJ said, as they use them, but you should see well enough with quick look and click on their sites to satisfy what you are looking to achieve.
Make your life spectacular!
 

by rene on Tue Nov 23, 2021 3:37 pm
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david fletcher wrote:
Hi Rene.  Have a nose around the site in the birds gallery.  No affiliation whatsoever, but if I were planning a trip, I'd look at a couple that routinely produce quality regularly here.  Best that others chime in as EJ said, as they use them, but you should see well enough with quick look and click on their sites to satisfy what you are looking to achieve.


Thanks David for the input. I’m pretty sure most of those ranches will produce good images but I think I’m more interested in which ranches would give  best opportunities etc in terms of set up and other stuff like birds! 
Rene 
 

by SantaFeJoe on Tue Nov 23, 2021 4:31 pm
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Santa Clara Ranch has accommodations on site:

https://www.santaclararanch.com/

Contact Beto Gutierrez or Hector Astorga.

Tell them Joe Roybal referred you.

Also Laguna Seca:

https://www.lagunasecaranch.com/

This link has some info on ranches. The South Texas area is probably what you are looking for. There’s a handy map at the bottom.

https://www.birdwatchingdaily.com/locations-travel/featured-destinations/four-star-ranches-in-the-lone-star-state/

Map

Joe
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.  -Pablo Picasso
 

by geneshome on Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:48 pm
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I second the above input.  You can fly into Houston or Dallas (and maybe San Antonio) internationally, and then catch a flight down to McAllen and pick up a rental car.  If you google the McAllen area you find multiple parks, reserves and other sites specifically available for wildlife and bird photography.  Probably the two best birding areas for close-in photography are Laguna Seca and Santa Clara.  For the later you may be able to stay on site.  For Laguna Seca you will most likely stay in Edinburg - it's about a 30 minute drive to the ranch and only normal passenger vehicles are needed.  I shoot at LS several times a year and always have fun.  There are 5 main blinds that are at ground level plus a large raptor field with multiple blinds (in ground, ground, and elevated). Santa Clara also has multiple blinds and photo sites.  You should visit both websites for more detailed info.   Both sites and their owners and guides continually produce prizewinning wildlife images.

You can also visit Alan Murphy, Greg Downing, Larry Ditto, Ruth Hoyt, Hoot Hollow, and the Shetzer's website for info on workshops.  Note that both ranches are happy to arrange for you to shoot anytime as a single party or with just one or two other people, but if a formal workshop is scheduled for a specific date then it has exclusive occupancy.  I mention this because many workshops at these places lock-in dates during spring and fall migrations, which means your availability may be somewhat limited as a single or small group shooter.

In general you will only have a couple months that I would recommend as "not good."  December and late June-August are probably the slowest months for both birds and other wildlife.  Late January - April and September - October and good for both resident and migratory birds.

Once you have visited the websites if you have specific questions, just ask.

later,

Gene
 

by Ed1946 on Wed Nov 24, 2021 6:06 pm
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I don't have recommendations for ranches but suggest you internet check out when photo tours schedule their workshop trips as they will likely setup (fill) ranches during the better times for photos considering weather, migration times. I live in Texas and the months of April-May are good for bird migration and Oct early Nov for fall migration. Most other times would be good for animals but weather conditions could be of concern.
 

by rene on Thu Nov 25, 2021 4:44 am
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Thanks very much for all the info! Much appreciated and helpful
Rene
 

by Phil Shaw on Fri Nov 26, 2021 4:04 pm
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Connecting flights from Houston and Dallas to McAllen or Brownsville are on small regional jets with limited space for carry-on - at aleast that was my experience but it was a few years ago. You should check the carry-on regs for these flights - you may prefer to drive.
 

by E.J. Peiker on Fri Nov 26, 2021 5:30 pm
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Phil Shaw wrote:
Connecting flights from Houston and Dallas to McAllen or Brownsville are on small regional jets with limited space for carry-on - at aleast that was my experience but it was a few years ago.  You should check the carry-on regs for these flights - you may prefer to drive.


Most of those planes these days have larger overhead bins than they used to that accommodate most people's packs although from what I remember when we went to Churchill, your bag was huge and insanely heavy ;)  that would not fit but I never have a problem with a pack sized to hold two Sony bodies, 200-600, 100-400 and 24-70.
 

by SantaFeJoe on Sat Nov 27, 2021 1:28 pm
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John Gerlach is one I would highly recommend if you are looking for a workshop type experience. He is one of the best at PP I have ever seen. I’m sure you don’t need any instruction, but I think the overall experience would be great.

John Gerlach Workshop

Article

Joe
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.  -Pablo Picasso
 

by calvin1calvin on Wed Dec 01, 2021 8:00 am
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I know you your trip is planned around the ranches but don't rule out going to South Padre Island and the birding center during that time of year.
 

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