Saturday we headed over to Brazos Bend State Park. We've visited this park so often over the years that it feels like an old friend. We meant to go there several weeks ago but the park was closed because of flooding and it did not re-open until last Wednesday.
While there wasn't much sign of flood damage on the main trails we explored, many of the smaller trails were closed.
Forty Acre Lake was partly obscured by water lilies (below) and invasive water-hyacinth.
Perhaps because the recent floods had displaced them, birds were few and far between both on the lake and in the wetland areas immediately next to it. Yellow-crowned Night Herons were present, though, including several juveniles (below).
For the first time ever we noticed that the trees well back from the 40 Acre Lake trail were full of large nests. Many of scores of visible nests belonged to Cattle Egrets but many others were occupied by White Ibis (below).
The occasional young White Ibis wandered across the trail ahead of us.
Alligators were fairly scarce. We saw only five on or around the lake.
Red-eared Sliders were, of course, plentiful and I enjoyed getting down to photograph this one's face.
Creekfield Lake was as beautiful as ever. Unfortunately, though, I couldn't spot a single bird there. Even the scores of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and Black Vultures that normally hang out there had vanished, presumably displaced by the flooding to another part of the park or the surrounding countryside.
Elm Lake was a little busier, although there certainly weren't anything like as many birds there as usual. Of course, here like at 40 Acre much of the surface was covered with vegetation.
I explored one corner of the lake and scared up a couple of Cattle Egrets, which flew off before I could photograph them. A Black-bellied Whistling Duck was less skittish.
A Little Blue Heron also ignored my presence.
A Purple Gallinule beat a hasty retreat. I'm not sure if two chicks in the same area belonged to the Purple Gallinule or whether they were the offspring of a Common Galinule that was hiding in the vegetation.
A little further along the Elm Lake trail I came across a pair of Common Gallinules (formerly Common Moorhens) that seemed to be doing nothing much at all.
It took a couple of minutes before I realized that they were keeping their eyes on their two young chicks, who were exploring among the lily-pads nearby.
As birds were comparatively scarce and the weather was hot and sticky, we only spent two hours in the park on this trip. No doubt we'll be back there later in the year for a longer visit.