Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Brazos Bend State Park

This park is located southwest of Houston, and is considered "a nature lover's paradise".  My brother Jared wanted to hike it with us, but the park was closed over the week-end because rain covered many of its trails.  Unfortunately Jared and his wife had plans for floors in their house to be laid on Monday and Tuesday so they did not accompany us.  They have been to the park before and love to hike its trails.  Until the 1980s this park was ranch land, and after the owners left it was being considered for development.  Fortuitously, a heavy rain proved the land not possible for such use and it was instead sold to the state.  How fortunate for us, we had a wonderful day in the park and saw lots of wildlife.
As we entered the park we saw signs warning us that venomous snakes were present in the park.  We did stop in the nature center of the park where we were able to see those snakes and identify them.  Two of them happened to cross our path during the course of the day.  Pictured above is a cottonmouth, or water moccasin.  We also saw a southern copperhead, it passed right under my feet.
There are woodlands in the park to hike in, and also wetlands.  We walked along several small lakes in the park and saw many alligators.  The park claims to have 300 of them and warns the public to stay at least 30 feet from them.  As you can see, John is closer than that to the alligator pictured above.  There were also places along our trail where they were on both sides of us and we just had to walk between them.  One time I was so engrossed in taking pictures of water birds that I almost stepped on the snout of an alligator, fortunately John stopped me in time.
And the park was so alive with the sounds of birds!  We heard the characteristic sound of many phoebes, as well as the loud deep hoot of an owl.  Egrets and herons would occasionally let out a loud and raucous call as they took flight when humans disturbed them.   We saw many little white egrets as as little blue herons and a variety of ducks.   One black-crowned night heron, pictured below, was so intent on his search for food that he totally ignored our presence.  The park has a variety of habitats which provides a home for over 300 species of birds, a great place for bird watching.
I think we hiked at least 4 miles over the course of our day in the park.  Having been sedentary for so long we could not get enough of walking!  In fact, when we thought we were done and the sun was starting to set, we got the crazy idea that we wanted to see the Brazos River which runs along one side of the park.  We found a trail which took us there and added another half mile to our day.  On our way out of the park we saw six deer feeding in a meadow.  A perfect ending to our day!

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