I left early this morning hoping that it wouldn’t be raining at Hornsby Bend, and despite a few quick showers on the toll road, it turned into a nice day with overcast skies and a steady cool breeze.
The egrets, herons and other waders I’d watched over the summer had all moved on, but the ponds were filled with ducks.
I saw hundreds of Northern Shovelers as well as a few Blue-winged Teal, Ruddy Ducks, and some Lesser Scaup. Along with the ducks, there were numerous American Coot and even a couple of Least Grebes.
I drove along the ponds, studying the ducks. The male Northern Shovelers are transitioning into their breeding plumage, which they do in November, so some of their breasts were a bit streaky.
Other than the ducks, I saw some flocks of some kind of sparrows (I think) that I couldn’t ID and a single Red-winged blackbird, which surprised me after the huge flocks of them I had seen over the summer.
Eventually, I decided to hike down the river trail to the lookout over the Colorado. I could hear Northern Cardinals and Carolina Chickadees, though I didn’t see either.
Walking along the trail, I spotted a few Carolina Wrens and a Northern Mockingbird as well as small brown birds that darted about, defying easy identification.
I watched the sky for hawks and eagles, but saw only vultures, both Turkey and Black. When I reached the river, a Double-crested Cormorant noisily flapped off away from the bank.
I didn’t see many more birds, but the trees looked especially good. There are three amazing trees that I always have to stop and look at and today, I had all my gear so I took a few pictures.
These are some of my favorite trees in Austin.
After taking this last picture, the wind picked up along with the kawing of a crow. I listened and a few more crows picked up the cry. I watched the sky and saw 3 American Crows hurrying towards a spot behind the tree I had been photographing.
Assuming they were mobbing, I looked around for a hawk and sure enough, I caught a fleeting glimpse of a hawk’s silhouette as he swooped out of the tree and towards the river.
By the time I got back to the car, the wind had picked up and it looked about to rain so I called it a morning and a good one at that.