The Guide to
Austin-area Birding Sites
Good places to see birds in and around Austin
Creek Metropolitan Park*
(Bob Havens Ballfields);
Farm; Northeast District
Park* - Walnut
Creek Metropolitan Park:
12138 North Lamar Blvd.
Farm: 11418 Sprinkle Cut-off
Rd., Austin TX 78754,
(512) 837-1215 Northeast
District Park: 5909 Coolbrook
Location: This complex (including the not-very-accessible Walnut Creek Greenbelt and Preserve) extends discontinuously along Walnut Creek for over 13 miles, from the MoPac Expressway in the north to the Colorado River in the south. To reach the Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park from IH-35, take Exit 244 (Yager Ln.) and go west on Yager Ln.. At the intersection with Lamar Blvd., turn left (south) and follow Lamar for 1/6 mile; the Park entrance will be on the right. To reach the Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farm from IH-35: Take Exit 245 (Parmer Ln./FM 974). Go east on Parmer Ln. for 2.3 miles to the intersection with Dessau Rd. Turn right (south) onto Dessau Rd. and follow it for 0.9 mile to the intersection with Sprinkle Cut-off Rd. Turn left (east) onto Sprinkle Cut-off and follow it for 0.5 mile to the parking lot for the Pioneer Farm, on the left. To reach the Northeast District Park from U.S. Highway 183, exit at Loyola Ln. heading east. After 0.4 mile, turn left (north) onto Crystalbrook Dr.; the Park will be on the right.
Habitats: Parkland. Riparian woodland. Often good for landbirds during migration. Typical resident species include Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren; White-eyed Vireos are common during nesting season. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are conspicuous summer residents in the fields of the Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farm, a recreated 19th-century homestead. See also Site 18.
Facilities: At Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park: trails, restrooms, water fountains, picnic tables. At Jourdan-Bachman: living museum, trails, restrooms, water stations, picnic tables; entrance fee; limited hours – call in advance. At Northeast District Park: restrooms, water fountains, picnic tables. A trail system is planned for much of the length of Walnut Creek.
500 Cedar Breaks Rd.,
Georgetown TX 78628 (512)
Location: Driving north on IH-35 to Georgetown, take Exit 261A (if you are driving south on IH-35, take Exit 261). Go west on RM 2338 for 3.3 miles to Cedar Breaks Rd. Turn left (south) onto Cedar Breaks Rd. and follow it to the lake. Both the north and south shores of the lake have parks (Jim Hogg, Russell, and the primitive Walnut Spring parks on the north shore; Cedar Breaks Park and the primitive Cedar Hollow and Sawyer parks on the south shore).
Habitats: Lake; oak-juniper Hill Country environment. The 16.6-mile Good Water Trail partly circles the lake; some stretches of the Trail run through Golden-cheeked Warbler habitat (the most accessible of these stretches are in Cedar Breaks and Russell parks). Lake Georgetown itself usually isn’t very birdy; but waterbirds occasionally stop by, especially during migration.
Facilities: Trails, restrooms, water fountains, picnic tables (all free). Fee activities: boating and camping. A map and descriptive literature are available by mail or during office hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday) from the Lake Georgetown Office on Cedar Breaks Rd.
Further exploration: Tejas Camp (actually one of the Lake Georgetown parks, though located to the west on the San Gabriel River) can be good for wintering sparrows, including Harris’s Sparrow. From the Cedar Breaks Rd./RM 2338 intersection, turn left (north) onto RM 2338 and follow it for 3.3 miles to FM 3405. Turn left (west) and follow FM 3405 for 5.8 miles to CR 258. Turn left (south) and follow CR 258 for 1.5 mile. The entrance to Tejas Camp will be on the left.
The Granger Lake area is worth a visit, especially during winter and migration. The Lake is surrounded by a number of parks and wildlife management areas, and it is worthwhile preparing for your visit by requesting the free map that is published by the Granger Project Office (512/859-2668; 3100 Granger Dam Rd., Granger TX 76530). From IH-35, take Exit 261 in Georgetown. Follow Texas Highway 29 east for 15.9 miles to the intersection with Texas Highway 95. Turn right (south) onto Texas 95 and follow it for 0.8 mile to FM 1331. Turn left (east) onto FM 1331 and follow it to the two parks on the south side of Granger Lake – Taylor Park (on the left at 4.7 miles) and Wilson H. Fox Park (at 6.3 miles). To avoid entrance fees, tell the park attendants you are just watching birds. Though Granger Lake itself isn’t often outstandingly birdy, it is worth a scan (especially during migration when large flocks of American White Pelicans and Franklin’s Gulls are sometimes present – late October is a good time for the latter). Birding by land in the parks, especially Taylor Park, is usually more rewarding. From Fox Park, continue north across Granger Dam. At the north end of the dam, the Project Office will be on the right; literature and a bird checklist are available during business hours. The Pecan Grove Wildlife Area below the dam’s spillway is worth visiting during migration and winter.
From the dam area, turn left (west) onto FM 971 and follow it 7 miles to the intersection with CR 348; turn left (south) onto CR 348 and follow it 2 miles to the intersection with CR 346. Turn right (west) onto CR 346 and follow it 0.8 mile to the intersection with CR 347. This intersection is the starting point for a loop through the habitat of wintering Mountain Plovers and longspurs. Turn left (south) onto CR 347 and follow it for 3.3 miles to the intersection with CR 345. Turn right (north) onto CR 345 and follow it to the intersection with CR 346. Turn right (east) onto CR 346 and follow it back to the intersection with CR 347. Carefully scan plowed fields on both sides of these roads (as well as similar fields in the general vicinity – for example, the area north of FM 971, especially around CR 352 and 353). Only distant views of Mountain Plovers and longspurs are usually granted, so a spotting scope is essential. From the CR 346/CR 347 intersection, continue straight ahead on CR 346 for 0.8 mile to the intersection with CR 348. Turn right onto CR 348 and follow it to Willis Creek Park, a good spot for landbirds during migration and winter. Elsewhere around the Lake, several parking areas allow walking access to the wildlife management areas (use caution during hunting season – consult with the Project Office on restricted areas). Large grasslands in the wildlife management areas host wintering Northern Harriers. In crop areas during spring and summer, watch fence and other lines for such nesters as Dickcissel and Lark Sparrow.
Austin-area Birding Sites
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
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