Brazos Bend Again

Brazos Bend Again

The road trip was fun, but I didn't see near enough birds. As soon as I got home and sprung the cat from kitteh jail, I made plans for a trip to Brazos Bend State Park. I love that place.

It was a bit overcast when I left. I figured that would clear off soon enough, but instead it got more and more ... foggy.

Dense Fog was back! I was a bit surprised at my attitude. I know the road to Brazos Bend really well now, so I was careful but not freaked out. Fog is now a photo opportunity!

Foggy 40-Acre Lake, Brazos Bend State Park

Foggy 40-Acre Lake, Brazos Bend State Park

Now, that is exactly the same view toward the East where I got those fantastic sunrise photos with the little grebe. Those were in the Reflections adventure. I think I see a duck or a grebe above, but it isn't that interesting. But look what I found on the other side of the pier.... 

Awesome Alligator's younger brother

Awesome Alligator's younger brother

Is that not the coolest photo I have ever taken? Original Awesome Alligator was in the same area as this new guy. That made me a bit nervous. Two adults alligators in close proximity might be tense. Or maybe they were courting. I have no idea. But this one finally glided away in the mists.

Eventually the fog burned off. I drove down to Creekfield to see what was going on. The lake was a bit ... scummy.  

Yellow Crowned Night Heron with yucky background

Yellow Crowned Night Heron with yucky background

These guys are everywhere. This one is intently focused on something between the two of us, but it shows off his nice yellow crown quite well.  

I was standing out on the pier watching the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks circle around and I saw a whole troop of people coming down the trail. It was too early for the Nature Walk group, but it turned out to be a meetup.com group of hikers and photographers. Must have been 30 people in the group. I even knew one of them! Finally I left Creekfield and went back to 40-acre Lake because I kept running into this large, noisy group.  

This time I started with the Wildflower Trail. That is a short trail from the parking lot through some meadows. Great place for Lovely Dead Crap. And I shot some dried things until I noticed these... flying things. 

Unknown type of  Blue Dragonfly

Unknown type of  Blue Dragonfly

Seems like when I have tried to photograph dragonflies before, they have flown off before I could get any shots. This guy was so patient. And I was pretty surprised how nice it turned out.  ISO 100 1/160 f/4.0 108 mm in case anyone is interested. That is a fully extended zoom and I don't remember if I had my Macro setting on or not.

Update: This dragonfly won 2nd place in a macro contest on Instagram, so it is officially a macro shot.  

Unknown type of Green Dragonfly

Unknown type of Green Dragonfly

This one is prettier, but he was on the ground instead of perched on a nice twig. I will have to experiment more with these. I should be able to find some again. ISO 100 1/400 f/4.0 108mm on this one.

Down the levee toward the Observation Tower,  the frogs were ... LOUD. Later I saw two guys with recording equipment capturing all that sound. Probably some yearly event of mating calls. I just Googled "Frog Calls" and got over 19 million results. Try it! There are a LOT of YouTube videos as well. Frogs go to all that trouble to hide and blend in with the surroundings, and then they make so much noise anyone could find them!

This is what all the fuss was about:

Frog taking a break from making so much noise

Frog taking a break from making so much noise

I met up with a nice couple who said Purple Gallinules had been spotted on the lake. They are similar to the Common Gallinules or what I call Moorhens but much prettier. We didn't find any but I did see an interesting Ibis.  

White-faced Ibis - grey bill and red eyes.

White-faced Ibis - grey bill and red eyes.

We generally have 3 kinds of Ibis around here. There is a White Ibis; the thumbnail photo for this adventure is a White Ibis with a crawfish. They are kind of homely birds. The white is not pure white like the Egrets and they have pink bills (most of the year) and pink legs. For some reason, I almost always see three together. The juvenile White Ibis are easy to identify as they are about half-brown, half-white.

Then, there is the Glossy Ibis. It has brownish plumage and does have great colors if the light is just right. All of them poke around in the shallow water looking for bugs and small fish.

And to make it really interesting, there is the White-faced Ibis, which never has a white face.  Here is what Wikipedia says in that link: 

It is very similar to the Glossy Ibis in its non-breeding plumages, but the plumage color is somewhat warmer and breeding adults have a pink face bordered with white, a grey bill, and redder legs. Adults have red eyes year-round, whereas Glossy Ibises have dark eyes. Juveniles of the two species are nearly identical

So based on the red eyes and gray bill as distinguishing marks, I am going to say the one above is the White-faced Ibis. At a distance you probably couldn't tell as easily, but he is up close and ... rather handsome I would say.

American Bittern thinking he is all camouflaged

American Bittern thinking he is all camouflaged

Now, you long-time loyal readers should recognize our friend the American Bittern. This one is along the levee at the end of 40-acre Lake. Remember, it was the same kind of bird I showed you that was all poofed up? That was last fall and I have only seen a Bittern at that location one other time.

Northern Cardinal all bright and sassy

Northern Cardinal all bright and sassy

Have you noticed the Cardinals are extra red and abundant this Spring? Maybe it is just me, but they seem to be just everywhere. This photo has been cropped and subject to a bit of processing, but the bird is really that bright of a red. For my UK readers, sorry you don't have these guys. The males are great singers, territorial and not shy at all. The female is a dull, tawny brown, but very pretty in her own right. Pairs mate for life!

Red-eared turtle

Red-eared turtle

Usually, these turtles are sunning on logs in the lake. This one was crossing the levee road in front of me. By the time I got close, he had turned around to face the sun.

The full name is the Red-eared Slider. And it is true. When they are sunning and you startle them, they immediately slide off into the water. These at Brazos Bend seem a bit more acclimated to people than others I have seen. At Anahuac, I remember driving along the lake and the turtles would plop, plop, plop as the car got closer. I felt bad; it takes a lot of energy to climb out of the water up on that log.

Trail up from 40-acre Lake to the parking lot

Trail up from 40-acre Lake to the parking lot

So, this concludes another adventure at Brazos Bend. Who wants to go with me next time? Bug spray isn't needed yet, but it will be later on. You better go with me now before it gets hot.  

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From Lufkin to the Lake

From Lufkin to the Lake

Road Trip Report One

Road Trip Report One