Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Alligators at Brazos Bend, Texas

One of my favourite places to visit when I'm staying with family in Texas is Brazos Bend State Park. It's not that far from Houston and is like nowhere else - wild but (fairly) safe with lakes, trees, birds, butterflies, turtles, helpful park rangers.....and alligators. 

You go hoping to see them, but when you do you need to treat them with respect and give them a wide berth because they can move fast if they do decide to move. Mostly they seem to hang out on the banks, or bask in the shallows, enjoying the sun. There are warning signs up in the park telling you to keep well clear of the 'gators and not to let dogs run loose - apparently small dogs are easy prey. My most scary alligator experience was on my first ever visit. It must have been the mating season as two of the brutes were sat eyeballing each other, one on the bank, the other in the shallows. As I crept by, keeping a safe distance from them, one of them let out an enormous hiss, which had all of our party sprinting along the path away from them. Needless to say, they didn't take any notice of us at all and never moved. Since that first visit, I've heard them make a sort of booming roar and with a little experience under my belt I don't get so jumpy now. The park is very attractive, with wide vistas, shady walks and an observation tower for bird watchers. I've been there in spring when it's been hot, and at Easter when it's been very hot.

Brazos vista with observation tower and wading egret
I've also been there in January when it's been warm but not hot - quite a contrast to see the area with no leaves on the trees, but still with plenty of wild life visible - red-winged blackbirds and bright red cardinals showing up well amongst the bare branches.

The lakes attract a lot of wildfowl - coots, moorhens, egrets, herons, blue herons and ibis. There are murky green pools which probably house a multitude of other wildlife under the surface, and some of the trees are festooned with Spanish moss, making them look very attractive. It's a great place to visit and I'm always happy to make a trip there as I've not seen all of it yet. Here are some other views of Brazos Bend. 

Murky green pool and the ever-present Spanish moss

This tree in the swampy area is a favourite perch for birds
Majestic tree with Spanish moss

Basking Brazos turtle
Perched ibis 
Beautiful blue swallowtail butterfly

And here's the hissing 'gator I wrote about

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