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“Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization.” By Aldo Leopold (pg.188)

  • Date: 11/09/13
  • Place: Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant
  • Time Start: 3:00
  • Time End: 5:30
  • Temperature: 67 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Weather: Sunny, cloudy, 10% of rain

Today, instead of going to my usual spot at Blunn Creek, I decided to change things up and went to Hornsby Bend with a pair of binoculars ready to take a bird watching tour. Unfortunately, I guess the tour was cancelled because no tour guide came although there were other people who came for the tour. I decided since I was already there, I took my own tour of the place observing nature and the different types of birds. Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory is a program of the Austin Water Utility’s Center for Environmental Research at the Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant. The area is filled with ponds with the goal of recycling Austin’s biosolids and yard trimming. Hornsby Bend receives the sewage solids reclaimed from the millions of gallons of wastewater that Austin’s wastewater plants treat every day. All of Austin’s sewage solids are pumped to Hornsby Bend where they are treated to kill pathogens and the resulting biosolids are recycled. Hornsby Bend is nationally known for its biodiversity and ecotourism. The biodiversity is present both because of the nutrient rich biosolids treatment processes used by the facility and because of the diversity of habitats at the site stretching along 3 miles of the Colorado River. One measure of this biodiversity is that Hornsby Bend is nationally known as one of the best birding sites in Texas – harboring over 370 species of birds and an abundance of other wildlife. Because I didn’t know very much about the place and where the best spots were to observe birds, I ended up walk around to the large ponds that treated the water. I walked for about an hour and a half, and then I paused to better concentrate on what was happening around me. Around the ponds, there were a variety of plant life, some most likely providing food for the animal life and also treating the pond water. The ponds were a cloudy blue color, most likely because chemicals were added to kill of pathogens in the water. One thing that was apparent was that there was a lot of noise pollution because the place was right next to an airport. Although I was expecting to see more animal life, I didn’t see as many birds as I expected or maybe they were different species and I couldn’t tell, this was the first time I had ever gone bird watching before. It was quite hard to figure out what the birds looked liked because they moved so fast. But From the pictures (i could not take many because they wouldn’t stand still !!) I took and from what I remember, I researched about the birds common in area to what I saw. I know I saw a Ring-Necked Ducks, Black Bellied Whistling Ducks, House Sparrows, Least Sandpipers, Mottled ducks, an abundance of Northern Shoveler’s, Turtles, and a fuzzy caterpillar. There were other species I saw that I could not find the names of.

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I thought That this would be an interesting place to talk about on my blog because it is a place where Wildlife and Anthropogenic systems are coexisting. Austin sewage waters are brought here to recycle water and at the same time this creates an ecological niche for wildlife.

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