Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The beauties of Brazos Bend State Park

Early yesterday morning we headed out on a day trip to Brazos Bend State Park. It was a birding trip I had wanted to make for a while, specifically to look for the Purple Gallinules that are spending their summer there. But as I knew from previous experience, Brazos Bend holds many treasures besides birds.

As it happened, the day that we had chosen to make our trek there turned out to be one on which rain was threatening, plus it was in the middle of the week, and so we had very little company at the park on this morning. That's just the way I like it - quiet.

The few other visitors that were there were obviously not there for the birds. Everyone that we met had the same question, "Have you seen any alligators?"

"Why is everyone asking me if I've seen alligators?" I asked my daughter.

"Well, it is what the park is known for," she said, wisely.

Well, all I can say is people who go there looking for nothing but alligators don't know what they are missing! It could be said that people who go there looking for nothing but birds miss a lot, too, for there is much to see and enjoy in this wonderful place.

The park is dotted with lakes and wetlands which makes it the perfect habitat for dragonflies. They were out in abundance yesterday, in all color patterns including this variety with the black splotches on its wings.

The oak trees here are all hung with Spanish moss, giving them a romantic and mysterious appearance.

We encountered several of these "fairy rings" and partial rings along the trail. Obviously, the fairies have been dancing a lot there lately.

There were also lots of these shelf mushrooms on dead trees throughout the park. The 'shrooms appeared in various colors.

The most abundant butterfly in the park this day was the Queen. Unfortunately, none of them wanted to hold still long enough for me to get a good image.

This Viceroy was a little more cooperative. He was too intent on extracting minerals from the earth to pay much attention to me. I saw several butterflies doing this, including the White-striped Longtail Skipper that I showed you yesterday.

There were butterflies everywhere in the park, including a beautiful Tiger Swallowtail that I chased without success. This Question Mark sat for me, but I tried and failed to get an open-wing shot of the critter to show its markings.

The trumpet vines didn't mind holding still for their portrait. They were all over the park, and where you have trumpet vines, you usually have hummingbirds, but I didn't see a single one during our explorations.

There were many wildflowers in bloom including this delicate little beauty. It was too shy to tell me its name.

This very common little flower in the park is apparently a member of the ruellia family.

This water lily bloomed all around the edges of Elm Lake, springing up from huge lily pads.

Sometimes amid all the greenery, we would encounter a silent watcher in the form of the red-eared slider turtle.

And occasionally we would see the reptile for which the park is known, the American alligator, watching us from among the vegetation. On some days at the park, you will find these big guys sprawled alongside or even across the trail and one has to be careful to give them a wide berth. Yesterday, though, there was no sunshine to entice them out of the water and so they just lay there in the mud and duckweed and watched us, perhaps judging which parts might be tastiest!

Now if you want to know about the birds that I saw, you will just have to visit my Backyard Birder blog.


  1. Would you believe it's a place I've never been?!!! Off to see the birds you saw!

  2. There are so many wonderful places for day trips around Houston, many of which I've never visited, Snap. If you like birds, you'll love Brazos Bend!

  3. We haven't to Brazos Bend yet, but maybe some day....and it's always good to get a park recommendation from someone who's actually been there - thanks, Birdwoman!

    If the shy & delicate white flowers were in Central Texas I'd be pretty sure they were Cooper's rain lilies, which pop up all over this area but there are probably other species of white rainlilies in Houston/East Texas.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  4. Brazos is definitely one of my favorite places in our area to see birds, Annie, but there is so much else to see there, too. It really is a wonderful place and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves being outdoors. Just take your insect repellent!

    I thought that mystery plant might be something in the rain lily family, but I haven't found anything in my guide books that looks exactly like it. Whatever its name, it is a pretty little thing.

  5. You needed all 2 gigs of that storage card! You took some wonderful pictures this week :)

  6. Well, quite a few of them were crap but out of 225 taken, some of them were bound to be okay!

  7. What a great tour, thanks for sharing the photos! Great alligator shot, I loved seeing him through the purple stuff.

  8. He was camouflaged by the thick duckweed and definitely looked as if he were perusing the menu, Kathleen!