Since coming to Texas, we have always visited Brazos Bend State Park at least a couple of times each year. So I was surprised to realize that our visit yesterday was our first and only one of 2015.
Our most recent previous visit, in December 2104, had turned up comparatively few birds and yesterday's visit was unfortunately rather similar.
A leisurely walk around 40 Acre Lake produced only a handful of large wading birds: a Great Blue Heron, two Great Egrets, a Snowy Egret and three Little Blue Herons (below).
The park is a reliable place for seeing Anhingas and, sure enough, we came across one at 40 Acre Lake.
The lake also had a couple of Double-crested Cormorants and Pied-billed Grebes (below).
A family of Common Gallinules were pottering around in the shallows.
A 15-minute walk along the edge of Elm Lake was even less successful, producing only brief looks at a Red-tailed Hawk, three American Crows and a couple of Eastern Phoebes.
The main entrance path to Creekfield Lake was blocked but the trees nearby had their usual complement of Black Vultures.
If the lakes we visited were quiet for birds, they certainly had plenty of alligators. An island in 40 Acre Lake had four good-sized ones.
We encountered several more adult gators as we walked around the lake.
Later in the day I had a lucky meeting with a park volunteer, who explained that the Creekfield Trail was blocked off because there was a nest of alligators next to it and the staff were worried that the mother might not take kindly to people walking next to her babies.
He then offered to show me the nest.
Standing well back from where the mother alligator was lurking protectively, we counted 25 babies on the bank and in the water.
My final sighting of the day was of a couple of American Coots, cruising around unconcernedly between the mother alligator and her babies.