Spring Happenings

Bladderpod Sida (I think!)

Spring usually comes very early to Texas. In fact, Central Texas really hasn’t had much of a winter this year. February brings rodeos to many Texas cities and the one that I grew up with was the Houston Fat Stock Show & Rodeo, as it was called way back when. The “when” was me as a young child. Each year my Daddy would take us to the rodeo and back then there were no fancy stages or country western rock stars performing. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were eagerly anticipated and each year after singing some songs they would ride Trigger and Buttermilk slowly around the arena shaking each child’s extended hand and allowing us to touch their horses. The Midway enticed us with bearded ladies, hawkers promising great prizes for winning a game or the fortune-teller who enthralled us with promises of exciting adventures in the future. The roller coaster made us wildly scream and a ride on the tilt-a-world always left me slightly nauseous. A trip to the rodeo was always an exciting adventure.

Keith Urban – Houston Rodeo 2016

I know it has been at least 40 years since I attended the Houston Rodeo but a couple of weekends ago, one of my BFFs invited me to go with her. I eagerly looked forward to it because one of my favorite entertainers was performing…Keith Urban! And he certainly delivered a rocking good time for all of us.  He did one thing that looped me back to my childhood. Toward the end of his concert, he exited the stage and proceeded to walk around the entire arena shaking hands, giving autographs and even taking selfies with eager fans. It was so refreshing to see and it made me happy that some small part of my childhood memory was being recreated.IMG_7588

Driving home, I was scanning the landscape and enjoying all of the beautiful wildflowers that grace our highways. Carpets of bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes, primroses, all brilliant examples of nature preening. I was drawn to an old cemetery where aging, faded tombstones were adorned with a multitude of colorful wildflowers.

Female and Male Northern Shoveler

Returning to Austin, my journey down Highway 71 passes close to Hornsby Bend, the water treatment facility for Austin. Settlement ponds are a beacon for migrating birds…a place to forage for food or just rest along the way. Just a quick stop landed me some great shots of some visiting Northern Shovelers. I am always fascinated by the huge shovel like beaks on these beautiful birds. And another shallow area brought me a sighting of some black-necked stilts. Birds abound if we but take the time to look and listen!

Male Northern Shoveler
Black-necked Stilt

Spring is a new beginning, so grab your binoculars, a sketch pad, or a camera and take the plunge into the spectacular world of nature that surrounds us all.

Happy Bird Searching!!!


Hornsby Bend – December 4, 2015

A clear crisp,blue skies day In Austin Texas, the perfect day for a short trip out to Hornsby Bend to check out which birds may have stopped by for a rest while on their migratory trip South.

Hornsby Bend is a 1200 acre site situated on the Colorado River and it did not have its beginnings as a bird sanctuary, but instead was built in the 1950’s as the main water treatment facility for Austin. It has become a national recognized biosolids recycling center and is expertly managed. Here the sewage from Austin is transformed back into potable water and returned to the Colorado River. Here sludge is transformed into Dillo Dirt which is sold to gardeners throughout the area.

Hornsby Bend has been a birding hotspot for over 50 years now. The story of how the first birders found the ponds goes something like this…A young birder named G. Frank ‘Pancho’ Oatman was visiting relatives in the area over the Thanksgiving holidays when he spotted some ducks flying across the Colorado River. He began exploring and found the sewage facilities at Hornsby Bend. He spotted several different species and began spreading the word to other birders who flocked (pun intended) to the area to enjoy looking at multiple species that had never before been seen in the Austin area. Over the years, thousands of birders have visited this facility to enjoy the many birds as they drop in for a visit and rest on their migratory travels.

Check out more about Hornsby Bend at http://www.hornsbybend.org

Today I visited Hornsby with my BFF Linda who is in Austin visiting for a few days. We spotted Killdeer, starlings, mockingbirds, Gadwalls and a large flock of Northern Shovelers. My friend on the right was nowhere to be seen today however. No matter, I am sure I’ll catch him on the back side.

Happy bird searching.