Monday, July 27, 2009

Brazos Bend: 40 Acre Lake

.
We spent yesterday morning at Brazos Bend State Park and we had a wonderful time. The park was almost empty of visitors, a constant breeze made walking pleasant, and there was lots of wildlife action.




Much of the surface of 40 Acre Lake was covered with lily pads.

..

.

Common Moorhens were everywhere.
.

The youngest chicks stayed well away from the path.
.

But the older ones were much more adventurous.


Green Herons were so plentiful that I quickly lost count of how many we had seen.
.


The air was full with the calls of Red-winged Blackbirds and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. I'm still always impressed by how well the latter manage to perch on trees.
.

We passed several Tricolored Herons, one of which let us stand only feet away while it hunted.



Mosquitoes were conspicuous by their absence but there were plenty of other bugs around.


Red-eared Sliders were common, too.


My main target bird for the day was the Purple Gallinule, perhaps the most beautiful of all the water and wading birds. I saw several around the lake but it was an hour before one of them finally came out into the open long enough for me to take photographs.
.




My other target bird was the Least Grebe, a very rare species in our area and one which I had seen only once before, on a trip to the Rio Grande valley. A solitary Least Grebe has been hanging out at Brazos since the spring and, with the help of some birders we met along the way, we managed to find it.




Although the park calls itself "The Home of the American Alligator," there didn't seem to be any alligators around yesterday. That is, until you examined the lake's surface more carefully.
.



Like many of the trees in the park, those along the southern edge of the lake were draped in Spanish Moss.


Our final sighting at 40 Acre Lake was of a Yellow-crowned Night Heron that was fishing right next to the path.
.
.

4 comments:

Birdwoman said...

Really nice pictures. I'm surprised there were few people there. Usually when we are there on weekends, the place is overrun with people and hard to enjoy. But I think it is about time for another visit...

Jeff said...

I, too, was surprised by how few people there were even by the time (12:30) we were leaving. There were only three other cars in the 40 Acre parking lot and maybe another 10 near Elm Lake. I guess people thought it was going to be unbearably hot.

Pam said...

What fantastic photos Jeff, especially the Heron ones!

Jeff said...

Hi, Pam. Green Herons are great to photograph, even though they're very small. They often let you get really close and they stay in one place a long time.