Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Birds at Hornsby Bend

Every summer, I search for new places around Austin to hike and look at birds and other wildlife. This summer, I stumbled upon The Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory, located at the City of Austin’s Biosolids Management Plant/Center for Environmental Research.

It’s right on a bend in the Colorado, and the combination of river and the treatment ponds draws a huge variety of birdlife such as this Black-necked Stilt.

There are trails along the river, and a road that winds around the ponds so you can walk or drive, which can be nice for bird watching since your car can be used as a blind, which is useful for observing more skittish birds like this Snowy Egret.

I’ve visited three times over the past few weeks, and have seen the following birds (*’s by new ones):

  • Northern Cardinal
  • Black vulture
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Barn Swallow
  • Cliff Swallow
  • Great-tailed Grackle
  • Snowy Egret
  • American Coot
  • Spotted Sandpiper *
  • White-eyed Vireo *
  • Killdeer
  • Black-necked Stilt *
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Brown-headed Cowbird *
  • Mourning Dove
  • Green Heron

In addition to these, I saw a few “mystery ducks” that looked like Blue-winged Teal, but not quite, as well as a bunch of “peeps” (small sandpipers) that I was unable to distinguish, lacking as I do the birding chops to distinguish between the Semi-palmated, Least, and Western Sandpipers. Oh, well, I guess that gives me a reason to go back.

When my Dad and I went last week, we saw huge flocks of Red-wings and Swallows as well as large numbers of Egrets and Little Blues. I can’t wait to see the birds that show up once migration begins.

It’s not all pretty birds, of course. There are pretty spiders like this graden spider also.

The spiders are good as there are very large flocks of gnats, flies and other bugs around those ponds. When we got back in the car to leave, it was like sitting in a plague of insects. But closing the car up in the heat for an hour while we stopped for lunch cooked them pretty well.

2 Comments

  1. Ok, I confess. Birds bore me. Still, you write so well and take such good pictures, that I find myself reading your posts about egrets and sandpipers with interest. Thanks for broadening my world a little.

  2. First this blog was gone to the birds, then it was just gone.

    I hope all is well in Austin!

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