Wetlands, Alligators and Birds at Brazos Bend State Park
Landscape photography was on my mind when I decided to visit Brazos Bend State Park in early March. This 5,000 acre park offers scenic trails along wetland areas, seven lakes, and the Brazos River. It’s so large that you would need to return several times in order to see it all. Considering my five-steps-then-stop photographer’s pace, the purchase of a $70 State Park pass seemed reasonable if I hope to one day claim to have explored the whole park.
It was fortunate that my son decided to join me for the trip as these types of hold-your-breath nature experiences are so much more fun if you can share them with somebody. His presence also lent me the use of his naturalist ability to locate even the most camouflaged wildlife. If you tend to not notice the wildlife around you - and trust me, you often have to work at it if you want to locate the park’s alligators - the scenery alone is well worth a visit. If, however, you want to get everything you can out of the Brazos Bend experience, listen to the sounds and locate the source.
I’ve taken plenty of pictures of birds, but normally only because they were right in front of me and I couldn’t fail to see them. At Brazos Bend, the enormous amount of noise made by the resident bird population compels you to look for them. The variety of sounds they emit are sometimes so intriguing that you want to identify the trumpeter, musician or honker. If you’re not a photographer with a zoom lens, be sure to have a pair of binoculars on hand as you walk around. Birds are much more interesting when you can see the details! I’ve always thought of passionate birders as being quirky people. That’s what happens when you can’t identify with other people’s interests. After this Brazos Bend visit, I think I may soon find myself among the quirky.
During our walk, we encountered a couple coming from the opposite direction. They stopped us to offer a warning of alligator activity up ahead. Having just passed six alligators lying next to the path, we were ready to laugh and tell them “just wait until you see what’s down this way!”, but then they pulled out their camera. Hearing a sudden noise, they had turned around to see a large alligator walking across the road just three feet behind them. That would certainly give you pause if you were completely unaware of its presence. They did get a really cool, envy-inducing photo of a sizable alligator out for a stroll.
The only other time I’ve visited Brazos Bend was during the summer. At that time, some in our group experienced an unwelcome level of discomfort as we all looked up and realized that large webs connected one side of the path to the other. In these webs sat very large banana spiders. I was hoping to get a picture of it this time, but there were no spiders. I presume they make an appearance when the warmer months arrive.
What we were fortunate enough to see were swarms of green dragonflies along the sides of the path. They didn’t come close to us but did seem to follow along, lending a bit of iridescent magic to our day.