Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Brazos Bend State Park

It's almost midday and very hot when we get to Brazos Bend and head for the picnic area near 40 Acre Lake. The trees look beautiful draped in Spanish moss, and several American Crows watch us while we eat.

I stroll down to the fishing jetty to look out over a lake largely covered with lily pads. The alligator that hangs out near the jetty is there again as usual.

We set out to walk clockwise round the lake and immediately come across a Purple Gallinule in the vegetation on the left of the path. 

We usually see several Gallinules on this edge of the lake in the summer but they normally disappear into the reeds as soon as they notice us. Luckily this particular bird is not at all shy. 

The wet area on the left has other birds, too. Just a few yards from the Gallinule, a White Ibis watches us as we pass by.

A Great Blue Heron with wonderfully colored shoulder patches freezes in place.

There are Common Moorhen everywhere on both sides of the path, the males' plumage looking splendid in the sunlight.


There are Moorhen chicks of all ages and sizes.

Further along we come across a couple of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and then a young White Ibis.

The trees are busy with Northern Cardinals, Red-winged Blackbirds and Great-tailed Grackles while both sides of the trail have Little Blue Herons.

A young Yellow-crowned Night Heron stands motionless.

A Great Egret creeps silently and elegantly as it watches for signs of movement in the water.

A single Anhinga perching on a tree on the other side of the lake suddenly flies off and across the path ahead of us.

We watch as an alligator swims several yards completely under water in an attempt to catch a juvenile Moorhen off guard but slinks off - still under water - when a parent calls the youngster to safety. 

Another alligator is being much sneakier and is virtually invisible under the pond scum and a mud headdress.


When we reach the observation tower, we watch another Great Blue Heron fishing as we try to decide whether to continue round the lake or to retrace our footsteps. 

In the end, we decide to head back the way we came, partly because I'd like to see if there are any more Gallinules on this side of the lake.

We don't see any new Gallinules but, surprisingly, the one we saw earlier is still prowling around in exactly the same place as before. Like all members of the rail family, it has enormous feet, allowing it to move easily on muddy ground and even to walk on lily pads.

It is still sharing the area with a White Ibis.

So, as on all of our many previous trips, Brazos Bend has once again produced plenty for us to look at and watch. And the show isn't over yet because I want to take a quick look at Creekfield Lake before we head out of the park. Although Creekfield never has as much bird action as 40 Acre Lake, there is almost always something interesting happening there.

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