Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A walk in the park

Texas is blessed with a number of wonderful state and national parks and national wildlife refuges. It's one of the things that makes our area a paradise for birders. And birds.

Last Saturday, our family spent most of the day at one of my favorite parks and birding spots, Brazos Bend State Park. The occasion was a celebration of our older daughter's birthday. The park is near where she and her husband live and celebrating her birthday there has become an annual event. 

After our cook-out luncheon, we went for a walk around Elm Lake, one of the several lakes within the park. And, of course, I managed to get in a little birding along the way. Birds were not as plentiful as they will be in spring and summer, but there were still a good number of them about. 

One can always count on seeing American Coots at any time of the year at any wetland in the area.

And the Common Gallinule is truly common.

There were scores of noisy Black-bellied Whistling Ducks around the lake. It was mid-day and early afternoon when we were walking and we found most of them preening or napping.

This pair of White Ibises were having a late lunch.

The Northern Harrier hunts ducks and other water birds. This one was almost hidden among the branches and seemed to be assessing the possibilities for a meal.

This Great Egret probably thought she was hidden among the grasses. Note the heavy yellow beak.

Nearby was one of her smaller cousins, a Snowy Egret. Note the dark beak. The bird also has dark legs but its feet are golden, giving it the appearance of wearing golden slippers.

This Double-crested Comorant almost appears to be a part of the dead tree it is sitting on. Only the color of its eye and beak give it away.

It's a bit unusual to see a female Blue-winged Teal all on her own. Usually they travel in pairs. No doubt her colorful mate is somewhere nearby.

This White Ibis is keeping a watch on things from a high perch. Maybe he's watching that Northern Harrier.
   
Pied-bill Grebes spend about as much time under the water as on top of it. Typically, just about the time one gets ready to snap their picture, they dive.

What Brazos Bend is really known for is its alligators. They are the main attraction for many visitors to the park. On the day we were there, we met some aficianados who were counting the 'gators on Elm Lake. They had spotted thirty-one at the time that they passed by.
  
It was a warm day and there were many 'gators like this one lounging on the banks.

There were many small ones, but also many of larger size like this one that was longer than my 5'5".

And then there was this one that was on a bank across the lake from where we were walking. As best I could judge, I think it was the largest one we saw, but it is difficult to estimate its length.

When our walk ended, I had counted a total of eighteen bird species, which I dutifully reported to the Great Backyard Bird Count. It was not a great total, but then my primary purpose was not birding but celebrating the anniversary of the day when I first became a mother. 

8 comments:

  1. What a great day! You managed the fun of your daughter birthday with bird watching. What more can you ask for?! :-)

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  2. That looks like a pretty impressive bird selection to me. Love the ibises and egrets. What about the gators though, don't they attack humans?

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    1. I'm not aware of any instances of these alligators attacking humans. I suppose if a human were so stupid as to poke one, it might attack. Frankly, they all look pretty well-fed!

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  3. That park is where I went with my son and grandson when I was visiting them in Houston in January. I did see a great igret and several white ibises, but no alligators that day. Lots of ducks.

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    1. It was probably too cold on the day you were there for the 'gators to be out, but on warm days like we had last Saturday they are much in evidence.

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