Why birdwatching? Some people ask this question especially those who prefer going shopping on their days off at the mall and mainly enjoy the hustle and bustle of our concrete jungles. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with going out for a nature walk or silently waiting, watching and identifying birds either. Some think that the latter is a weird pastime, which in my opinion is a very narrow-minded view of thinking. I’m not surprised to learn that most of the birders I’ve met love hiking and were drawn to birding because they wanted to know what kind of birds they’ve encountered along the way.
Nancy Manning, Executive Director of the Travis Audubon Society pointed out that birdwatching, appreciating butterflies or dragonflies makes a person more environmentally aware and also have a desire to help in habitat conservation. I agree that any outdoor activity is a constant reminder to help preserve our natural environment before any native plants and animals become reduced or extinct. It’s about maintaining a balance between appreciation for modern advancement and having a healthy respect for the natural environment as well.
Today, we went birdwatching at Blair Woods Preserve in east Austin along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Blair Woods is a 10-acre Travis Audubon sanctuary of woods, prairie, and wetlands. They’ve made trails in the area while continuously clearing non-native plant species through the help of volunteers and grants. They also plan to make a butterfly and hummingbird garden in the near future.
“The project has been awarded grant money through the Together Green organization formed by the National Audubon Society and Toyota which donated $20 million for preserve projects across the country. The land was originally the site of the Ft. Colorado historical marker and was once a dairy farm. The wooded tract and the homestead of noted University of Texas biologist William Franklin Blair was donated to the Travis Audubon upon his death in 1985. Dr. Blair, a noted zoologist and UT professor, often used his acreage as a learning environment for his UT research students. After many years of collecting essays from his students, he used the essays to build the dam which created the still existing pond. He called the dam the “Dam of Words.”~ travisaudubon.org
Birds sighted: 1 painted bunting, 4 Carolina wrens (several heard), 1 Carolina chickadee, 2 ruby-throated hummingbirds, 1 blue jay, 2 cardinals, swallows, chimney swifts, 4 white-winged doves, 1 red-bellied woodpecker, grackles, mockingbird. This is by no means a complete list of what we’ve seen but as usual, I wasn’t taking notes. I’m sure someone else was taking notes while some of us were also identifying the lizards and dragonflies too.