Wasteland to Birding Wonderland

Yellow-legged Sandpiper observed at Hornsby Bend.

This is Passport to Texas

On the second Saturday of every month, Eric Carpenter surveys birds with Travis Audubon, at Hornsby Bend, east of downtown Austin.

Hornsby is one of the better spots to bird in Central Texas.

Carpenter and cohorts have recorded more than 360 species of birds at the site over the years. Dr. Kevin Andersen runs the Center for Environmental Research at Hornsby; an unlikely place for the genteel activity of bird watching.

Hornsby Bend is the facility that recycles all of Austin’s sewage solids, which is a euphemism for poop.

Austin’s sewage and yard waste is recycled at this unique, 1200 acre site along 3.5 miles of the Colorado River.

There’s a farm and a bottomland forest, treatment ponds that are famous for birding. Many different things that we can use for environmental research.

Pathogens in the sludge are killed off naturally. Some solids, when mixed with recycled yard waste, become compost; the cleaned water goes into ponds, creating an environment attractive to wildlife and those who watch it — like photographer Greg Lasley.

Even though we’re right near the city of Austin, there’s an amazing variety of wildlife: butterflies, dragonflies, birds, reptiles and amphibians. My philosophy is if you just get out in nature and spend time looking, things show themselves to you.

That’s our show …for Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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