Strollin’ on the WILDside

Where’s the Big Tent:  Brazos Bend State Park, Texas
What’s the Main Attraction:  Waterfowl and wildlife (American Alligator) photo sessions
When’s the Big Event:  February 21-23, 2012
What’s for Supper:  Bagels with peanut butter and jelly, canned soups, trail mix, canned fruit, and bottled water
Why the Hiking Boots: 40 Acre Lake Loop Trail (1 mile), Elm Lake and Horseshoe Lake Trails (6.5 miles)
Extended Weather Forecast:  Mostly sunny with occasional overcast, humid, and extremely windy—80’s
So what’s the Big Deal: elusive waterfowl, hundreds of American Alligators, windy conditions, and two wannabe bird photographers. 

Brazos Bend State Park is a 4,897-acre state park along the Brazos River in Needville, Texas, run by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The park is a haven for a diverse mix of native wildlife and plants covering an equally diverse range of ecosystems. Brazos Bend contains areas of coastal prairie, bottomland forest, and a wide range of wetlands including open and semi-open lakes and transitional marshlands. Highlights of the Park’s numerous inhabitants include over 300 species of resident and visiting migratory birds and mammals like White-tailed deer, Nine-banded Armadillos, Raccoons, and North American River Otters.  The most noteworthy and popular residents of the park are the relatively large population of American Alligators.

This large population of Brazos Bend alligators has a lot to eat in this wild environment, including baby alligators.  It was interesting to learn the mother alligator does not teach her young survival skills, only protects them when possible.  Needless to say, there were many baby alligators in this Texas state park who became meals for other gators and predators such as vultures.   The majority of the time these American Alligators were hidden from sight, which created a clear and less dangerous pathway around Brazos Bend’s 40-Acre Lake.

However, we were intruding in their domain just prior to mating season.  Consequently, alligator lovelies were often lying along the water’s edge, waiting for Mr. Right to come along or vice versa.

Our evening strolls at Brazos Bend with cameras—delightful—and set the standard for our other birding and alligator exploits.  We had one of the best first-time birding and wildlife experiences at Brazos Bend State Park, and we anticipated similar waterfowl photography encounters down the road. (See Where are the Birds? June 9, 2012)  Brazos Bend State Park—a natural habitat one could  walk on the WILDside almost without human disturbance—where the reptiles roamed free and migratory birds by the multitudes lined the water’s edge or roosted overhead.  A special moment in time…in a unique location.

What’s wrong with this scene?  Absolutely NO digital manipulation here!

Here sat a man photographing a shorebird next to a huge American Alligator.  As we approached and stopped dead in our tracks about 20 feet from both, the man eyed us and the gator alternately.  It was as if the worried photographer was yelling, “please, do not walk by me.”

Terrified, I refused my husband’s nudging to ignore this man’s pleas and continue down the six-foot wide trail anyway, strolling past the man and beast. Reluctantly, we did an about face and meandered on the 40-Acre Lake Loop Trail in the opposite direction until dark.  It was our last night at Brazaos Bend State Park.  Neither the man nor the reptile was seen at water’s edge when we approached the same area later that evening.

What about this visual perspective of man (woman) and beast?

Now on a more pleasant note, night sounds at Brazos Bend included those of coyotes, owls, and some sort of barking animal off in the distance, not a dog.  As tent camping enthusiasts, these hints of distant wildlife are welcomed sounds of the darkness.  In like manner, the morning light brings those symphonies of bird songs and lullabies so sweet to the wakening tent dwellers.  All found at Brazos Bend State Park, Texas.

Would we wander on the WILDside again?  Absolutely.

For a few bird images, peak into the bird nest at (Under This N’ That)
Still learning to fly!
July 21:  ‘Round the Bend at Big Bend
July 28:  Bienvenidos Terlingua USA


About corinthrose

Born again Christian, helpmate of 42 years, domestic engineer of two children, GRANDmother of six darlings, professional volunteer, fanatic photographer, and a wanna be writer. Occasionally, infatuated with family history, flower photography, and traveling with my hiking buddy.
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3 Responses to Strollin’ on the WILDside

  1. So glad you didn’t end up being a meal. lol. Great photos, but for once, not any I personally would’ve taken. The thought of being that close to an alligator is terrifying to me. And that man was absolutely nuts. But…waking to the symphony of birds singing would probably be worth it all!

  2. Anna Dean says:

    Cool Post Grandmother Meints! I wonder did you see any Sea Otters There? Because for some reason know I am in love with sea otters! 🙂 Moriah and I can’t wait to see you on Monday!

  3. Nancy says:

    Loved the “What when and whys. This place did have a uniqueness to it. I find your style of writing unique, like this statement: “Still leaning to fly” Yep I want to do that too.

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