Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Park that Never Disappoints

Yesterday was another blazing hot Texas summer day. However, in spite of the heat, we spent a very enjoyable 4 hours  walking with friends in Brazos Bend State Park. I think all of us were half-expecting that the heat and the continuing drought might mean there would be little to see there. We needn't have worried. Although there was much less water in the lakes than normal, the park provided us with plenty to look at and watch. An added bonus was that there were very few other people visiting.

We started off by walking round 40 Acre Lake. The water level was exceptionally low and most of the surface was covered in either green algae or water lilies.

The algae provided excellent cover for the 25 alligators that we saw on our walk.

With the exception of one large adult, the gators were small juveniles, like this 4-footer.

The lily pads were acting as stepping stones for drab juvenile and more colorful adult Common Moorhens.

The Green Herons that are always plentiful in the park in summer were also foraging on and around the pads.

I'd never really noticed before how much Green Herons resemble Least Bitterns when they stretch up their necks.

The pale green patch in front of the Herons' eyes was also very visible.

Other birds including large waders were less common than on most visits to Brazos Bend. Apart from several Northern Cardinals, we saw only a handful: Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Little Blue Herons, Great and Cattle Egrets, White Ibis, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron and a juveniles Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

Great Blue Heron

I was surprised not to see a single turtle on our walk. Mosquitoes were absent, too. However, dragonflies were everywhere.

After completing our leisurely circuit of 40 Acre, we headed over to Elm Lake, where we hoped to see more wildlife. As you'll see later, we weren't disappointed.

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