FT 20 - CANCELLED  Hornsby Bend – Ecology of an Urban Wasteland

Wednesday, August 10, 2011: 7:30 AM-12:30 PM
Trinity Street Lobby Field Trip Pick Up, Austin Convention Center
Organizer: Kevin M. Anderson
Vacant lots, old dumps, sewage ponds, fencerows, and leftover bits of urban land are usually characterized as problem sites for urban ecology where pests and pestilence threaten the city. Join us for a fieldtrip to an urban wasteland in Austin that is celebrated as a site for nature viewing, ecological research, and more. Hornsby Bend is Austin’s sewage farm. This Austin Water Utility facility was built to recycle the sewage and yard waste of the city, but it is also managed as urban wildlife habitat open to the public seven days a week. For over 50 years, birders have visited the 1200-acre site on the Colorado River compiling sightings of over 370 bird species. Hornsby Bend is nationally known as one of the best birding sites in Texas, and Texas Parks and Wildlife has designated Hornsby Bend as a stop in its ecotourism trail for Central Texas. Birds are only the start of the biodiversity at the site, for instance, 82 species of dragonflies and damselflies have been found there. Ecological research at Hornsby Bend is coordinated by Austin Water Utility’s Center for Environmental Research [CER] located on the site which works with Texas universities and government agencies to study the ecology of this urban wasteland [website - http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/water/cer2.htm ]. Research projects include urban waste recycling, soil ecology and environmental trace contaminants, hydrology and riparian ecology, biodiversity studies, and avian ecology. This fieldtrip will allow you to spend the morning exploring Hornsby Bend with the Director of the Center for Environmental Research, Dr. Kevin M. Anderson. The trip will focus on biodiversity and ecological research at this urban wasteland. Dr. Anderson will give a presentation about urban wasteland ecology and research at Hornsby Bend, and then he will lead a tour of the site to explore ecological research at the site and learn about the ecology of typical urban wasteland habitats [old dumps, sewage ponds, fencerows, gravel pits, and more] at Hornsby Bend. A prominent part of this field trip will be birding and bird habitat of the sewage treatment ponds and sewage farm. At the treatment ponds, blackbellied whistling ducks, black-necked stilts, and other aquatic species are common in August, and, belted, ringed, and green kingfishers are common along the river. More information about the birds of Hornsby Bend can be found at the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory program website www.hornsbybend.org .

Registration Fee: $30

Equipment and Attire: Sturdy shoes, binoculars, hat for August sun.

Itinerary: 730am Depart Convention Center 8am arrive at Hornsby Bend Presentation followed by field tour until noon

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Banner photo by Flickr user greg westfall.