I took the morning off work yesterday to visit Brazos Bend State Park and I arrived to find the park blanketed in thick fog.
As I walked down to 40-Acre Lake through oaks shrouded in Spanish moss, I noticed movement in the picnic area. A family of wild pigs! The mother quickly led the piglets to safety at a gallop.
The lake itself looked beautiful in the fog.
As usual, the water's edge was busy with wading birds.
Further out, the water was crowded with other birds but it was often difficult to make out what they were.
Birds would appear silently and suddenly out of the fog and be lost to sight again a few seconds later.
As I started to walk the trail around the lake, I was surrounded by birdsong: Northern Cardinals, Great-tailed Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds sang out incessantly, while American Coots and Common Moorhen frequently added their less melodic contributions.
Then a very different and much more dramatic sound drowned out the singing. It was the bellowing of a large male alligator to my left.
A moment later, there came the reply from an even larger alligator on my right, and for several minutes I stood there in thick fog while the two males bellowed at each other. Their calls were so loud and so deep that I could literally feel them vibrating in the pit of my stomach. It was truly awe-inspiring.
More male alligators bellowed out their calls as I walked further along the path. However, even though they were fairly close, the thick fog stopped me from getting good photos. As consolation, I took pictures of some of the smaller alligators that were lying peacefully in the water.
When I turned my attention back to birds, I was surprised to see that most of them did not seem to be at all bothered by my presence. Northern Cardinals and Vesper Sparrows calmly explored the path only feet away from me.
Even American Pipits and Tufted Titmice - birds I always find difficult to photograph - stopped and posed for me.
A Snowy Egret strolled nonchalantly across the path ...
and a White Ibis walked a few yards ahead of me for several minutes.
Even many of the Coots, Moorhens and Blue-winged Teal at the water's edge waited until I was very close to them before sailing away across the lake.
I suppose they were all so mellow because the fog deadened the sound of my approach and made me less visible. Whatever the reason, it certainly made for a great birding experience.
Elm Lake and more male alligators