John Harvey Photo

AustinGo to Slide Show

Work Trip with some Photos on the Side


My work has a few offices spread around the world.  I'm currently working with a team based out of Austin and we decided it would be good if some of the Vancouver office went to Austin to have meetings and understand their situation a bit better.  It was a working week - fly down Monday (arrive after midnight), work Tuesday to Friday and then fly back on Saturday morning (we left the hotel at 5:30am Saturday morning.  On the plus side, there are a lot of hours outside of office hours and we tried to make the most of it!

Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory

Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory is a really fancy way of say "the sewage treatment plant".   Vancouver has a similar birding destination - Ioco beach has a sewage treatment plant that attracts migratory birds.  I set my alarm early and Uber took me out to near the airport I arrived at a few hours earlier.

Pond At Hornsby Bird Observatory

Spotted Sandpiper
The first pond was empty save a single spotted sandpiper eating bugs at the shore.  The second pond had a variety of ducks - mostly Northern Shovelers and American Coots.  I was happy to see Ruddy ducks - a species that would be a rare visitor to Vancouver.



American Coot On Fallen TreeFemale Ruddy DuckNorthern Shoveler Preening

The ducks were quite skittish - even 20 feet was too close to most of the.  I'm too used to Reifel Bird Sanctuary where the birds are fed and practically run over your shoes to see if you have any seeds for them.

Northern Cardinal In Tree Top
At the edge of the ponds are trees and some fast growing weeds.  I was really happy to spot an Northern Cardinal.  This is a very common feeder bird in the eastern side of North America, but I have never seen one before.  It sings quite nicely. 

Song Sparrow


As the morning warmed up, butterflies started to fly around.  I spotted a few and they were patient enough to let me take photos.  While a know a few birds by sight, I know very few butterflies by sight and I was hoping that both of these would be new to me southern species.  Turns out either could be seen in Vancouver.

Grey HairstreakPainted Lady

Salt Lick BBQ

Pre Dinner At Salt Lick
Our hosts in Austin kindly organized a few dinners out for us.  Clearly not trip to Texas would be complete without a BBQ experience so we decided to go to Salt Lick in Driftwood, outside of the Austin core.  The traffic is quite bad between 4 and 6 so we decided to leave the office early to beat the rush.  We had an Engineering meeting in the picnic tables in possibly the nicest afternoon weather ever.


 
Meat On The Warmer
The restaurant has a few surprises.  First, it clearly focuses on barbecue meat - when you walk in the door, a campfire warming "pit" is the focus of attention.  This isn't actually where the meat is smoked and it's not all of the meat available.  It serves as a staging area for meat to be plated. 


Sides As An Entree
The second surprise was that the restaurant doesn't sell alcohol, but is fine with you bringing in a cooler and serving yourself.  As someone from BC that has puritanical alcohol rules (you don't bring your own), this blew my mind.  Many restaurants in Vancouver sell food at a near loss hoping to make up the revenue on expensive alcohol sales.

The meals are either set plates or "all you can eat".  As a vegetarian, they kindly made me a plate of the three included sides - coleslaw, potato salad and beans.  The server said it was meat free and I seemed fine.  The set plates have a few options not available for "all you can eat" - Bison or Turkey.  The all you can eat was plate after plate (served family style) with beef brisket, sausage and pork ribs.  Four people at my table finished three plates but I think they felt it well into the next day.  I ordered dessert!


 
The Big Three BBQ MeatsPecan Pie
 

Pennybacker Bridge

Pennybacker bridge was pretty close to our Hotel - maybe a twelve dollar ride in Uber.  When I looked online to see how people took pictures of the bridge, I noticed a lot of people took light streak photos showing the vehicles drive over the bridge so I decided to try a timelapse of sunrise trying to get the light streaks.



Ridgewalk Trail
After sitting around for 45 minutes watching sunrise, I walked the near by ridge trail looking for the spring flowers.  We were really fortunate with out timing - spring flowers were blooming everywhere.   The margins of the highway were quite colourful and the trails up here had a wide variety of spring flowers.

Small Ballmoss With FlowersBlue Curls

I was lucky to get an overcast morning which makes flower photography easier.

Rain LilyCedar SageFeatherleaf DesertpeonyFive Pedal Bush

Rufous-crowned Sparrow
There were birds present, but they were tricky to find and kept moving.  I found one sparrow singing away on a branch suspended way over the cliff - no cat would ever be able to reach it.   The sparrow as very patient with photos.

Austin Downtown 

Boats Gathering For Bats
On our last night, we went downtown for some entertainment and to see the bats emerge from the Congress Street Bridge.  We got burgers on 6th street at Casino El Camino and then walked down to the Congress street bridge to see the bats come out.
 


Bats From Under Bridge
There were a few problems with our plan.  I called and found the bats were expected between 7:45 and 8:45 pm.  Being Friday night, the bridge was packed two people deep and getting a spot of the railing wasn't easy.  Second problem - turns out the bats mostly fly off the south side of the bridge and we stopped at the North side of the bridge.  By time time someone pointed out the clouds of bats on the horizon, they were tiny specs in the air.  Looking over the bridge you could see tiny bodies traveling very quickly along the bridge to the eastern side, but we didn't get a close experience.  I guess next time I come to Austin, I'll know better!


Thanks to all the Austin folks who kindly showed us around and put up with out of town questions!


Five Pedal Bush
Altitude: 181m (593 feet)
Location: Go To...
Blue Curls
Species: Phacelia congesta (blue curls)
Altitude: 199m (652 feet)
Location: Go To...
Grey Hairstreak
Species: Strymon melinus (gray hairstreak)
Altitude: 127m (416 feet)
Location: Go To...
Song Sparrow
Altitude: 131m (429 feet)
Location: Go To...
Ridgewalk Trail
Altitude: 182m (597 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: trail
Pond At Hornsby Bird Observatory
Altitude: 139m (456 feet)
Location: Go To...
Meat On The Warmer
Tags: barbeque
The Big Three BBQ Meats
Altitude: 328m (1076 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: barbeque, food porn
Northern Cardinal In Tree Top
Species: Cardinalis cardinalis (Northern Cardinal)
Altitude: 129m (423 feet)
Location: Go To...
Featherleaf Desertpeony
Species: Acourtia runcinata (featherleaf desertpeony)
Altitude: 188m (616 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: flower
Rain Lily
Species: Zephyranthes drummondii (prairie lily, Rain Lily)
Altitude: 180m (590 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: flower
Painted Lady
Species: Vanessa cardui (painted lady)
Altitude: 127m (416 feet)
Location: Go To...
Sides As An Entree
Tags: food porn
Bats From Under Bridge
Altitude: 142m (465 feet)
Location: Go To...
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Species: Aimophila ruficeps (Rufous-crowned Sparrow)
Altitude: 195m (639 feet)
Location: Go To...
Female Ruddy Duck
Species: Oxyura jamaicensis (Ruddy Duck)
Altitude: 138m (452 feet)
Location: Go To...
American Coot On Fallen Tree
Species: Fulica americana (American Coot)
Altitude: 138m (452 feet)
Location: Go To...
Boats Gathering For Bats
Altitude: 143m (469 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: boat, city, night
Northern Shoveler Preening
Species: Anas clypeata (Northern Shoveler)
Altitude: 138m (452 feet)
Location: Go To...
Pecan Pie
Tags: dessert, food porn
Small Ballmoss With Flowers
Species: Tillandsia recurvata (small ballmoss)
Altitude: 193m (633 feet)
Location: Go To...
Cedar Sage
Species: Salvia roemeriana (cedar sage)
Altitude: 194m (636 feet)
Location: Go To...
Pre Dinner At Salt Lick
Altitude: 286m (938 feet)
Location: Go To...
Spotted Sandpiper
Species: Actitis macularius (Spotted Sandpiper)
Altitude: 136m (446 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: food porn(3), barbeque(2), flower(2), boat(1), city(1), night(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > Austin

Leave a Comment

Some HTML allowed: <b>, <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>, but most isn't.  Text length is limited.  comments from first time authors will be reviewed before being posted. comments with swearing or painfully poor spelling will probably be rejected.


Last Modified Sunday, April 14th, 2019 at 23:30:46 Edit
Copyright and Contact Information.