Date: 10/31/18 12:39 pm From: Jonathan Schuler <jkschuler...> [ILbirds] <ILbirds-noreply...> Subject: IBET Re: Looking for Birding Tips for our trip to Austin TX from this group!
We lived in Austin for three years and while the 110 degree summers kept us either inside or in the pool, I do miss the place (and the tacos) dearly.
My favorite spot was Walnut Creek. But go early as it fills up with dog walkers (it's a no-leash area) and mountain bikers (all friendly encounters). That said, it's a gorgeous area, prime habitat for Golden Cheeked Warblers, and has what I think makes a great hike -- very shallow, bubbling brooks and streams that you have to walk or hop across. With that said, the flooding that Austin just had might make even those tiny, shallow areas not so tiny or shallow. Not sure of your timing for the trip, but please make sure flooding has ceased.
The other place is Balcones Canyonlands in Austin Hill County. Again, enjoy the drive and the view there -- the trip through Hill County might be worth it just for that.
My first week in Austin on my commute to work I saw a what I through to be an eagle because of a white head and size out in a field. But it clearly wasn't an eagle because I saw some red, too? Was it a TV? A bald eagle? Was I going crazy? I kinda freaked out because I had no clue what I was looking at... Turns out it was the first of many crested caracaras I saw while there. Then when I got to work, I got out of the car and on the telephone wire in the parking lot, there was a scissor tailed flycatcher. Again, a first of many for me. Austin is a neat place, an incredibly friendly place, yet feels like a world away from the suburbs of Chicago.
Finally, I second the Port Aransas trip and if you're actually looking at making that 4 hour drive, you might as well tack on another 4 hours to South Padre Island. There is a birding center there known for roseate spoonbills and gallinules. Some of the best birding I've done, and again, a gorgeous place to be.
Don't forget to eat your share of tacos and try every single queso you can find.