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Stillhouse Hollow Preserve in Austin

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Stillhouse Hollow Preserve in Austin

Photo: austinexplorer.com

I took a little birding class from Jane Tillman, a member of Austin’s Travis Audubon Society, and I really enjoyed being around that handful of folks who enjoyed the outdoors and God’s little tweety friends. Jane took about a dozen of us budding birdwatchers on field trips to the backyard of her Northwest Austin home and to Stillhouse Hollow Preserve, right in the heart of her hilly Austin neighborhood.

Stillhouse Hollow Preserve in Austin

Photo: austinparks.org

Jane’s backyard, which borders on yet another urban greenspace, Barrow Preserve, is a Best of Texas Certified Wildlife Habitat, lush with Texas native plants for birds and butterflies. Early on an overcast Saturday morning proved to be a good time to see and hear goldfinches, cardinals, Carolina chickadees and downy woodpeckers. But it was the trip to Stillhouse Hollow Preserve that wowed me. Tucked into the middle of one of my nearby neighborhoods is this wooded, creekside canyon of a secret spot-the kind of no-adults-allowed places that we all had when we were kids. You know the ones, where the trees lining the path grow over the path and hide you from everything so you think you’re in some magical, away-from-it-all spot. But there I was, in the heart of a part of Austin that I travel through every day.

Stillhouse Hollow Preserve in Austin

Photo: austinparks.org

We walked through a small, sunny meadow across the street from homes into the 19-acre preserve and got off to a birdy good start as the beginning birders saw swifts flying from house to house. We walked through stands of cedar and oak, part of what designates this preserve as endangered species habitat for golden cheeked warblers and black capped vireos. And we were visited on our walk through by neighbors pushing strollers and walking dogs, bicycle riders and kids fiddling around as they headed down to the lookout over one of the creeks. Really, though, bikes and dogs are on the list of no-no’s in the preserve. Still, it was good to see folks out and about on a Saturday morning.

Stillhouse Hollow Preserve in Austin
Photo: austinparks.org

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