Saturday, March 13, 2010

Brazos Bend: Elm and Creekfield Lakes

After a wonderful hour at 40 Acre, it was time to see what Elm Lake had to offer. Perhaps because it was getting lighter now, the birds there were less obliging. I tried to creep up on a group of Cattle Egrets but they quickly flew up into a tree.

Some Black Vultures were cl
ustered on the trail ahead but they, too, flew up as I approached.

Blue-winged Teal and American Coots were equally skittish and I felt quite guilty for disturbing their peaceful morning.

I felt less guilty when a White Ibis let me watch as it prowled around by the trail, its bill and legs a spectacular shade of red.

And a Snowy Egret was too busy preening to pay me any attention. As I watched it cleaning its beautiful plumage I could almost (I say, almost!) understand how demand for its plumes to decorate ladies' hats had brought this species to the edge of extinction in the early Twentieth Century.

Then it started again: The deep bellowing of male alligators. First one. Then a second joined in. Then a third and a fourth. They kept calling as I walked along the edge of the lake. They were too far away for good photos but I finally got a shot that shows how the water bubbles and dances off their backs when they bellow.

As it was almost time to head for home, I was only able to make a quick stop at Creekfield Lake on my way out of the park.

I disturbed an American Crow that was hunting by the water's edge.

Nearby a Pied-billed Grebe was diving for food.

Four alligators were lazily cruising the lake and it seemed only fitting to end my trip by taking a photo of one of them.

From a birding point-of-view, my visit had not been particularly productive: 32 species, of which two were new for the year (Glossy Ibis and Northern-Rough-winged Swallow). However, I will never forget the sound of those male alligators - and the sight of those water droplets bouncing up from their backs.

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