Wednesday, January 9, 2013

UTC 117: Brazos Bend State Park

The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, Upper Texas Coast

We only saw one alligator on this trip, and zero snakes. 
I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 am, the time I was originally planning to leave.  It was so warm in bed, and so not warm outside.  I had to go, though.  I told everyone I knew that I was going on a 5 -7 mile hike, and I told all of you I was starting my new project.  

"No excuses," I told myself.  Get your a@@ out of bed.  "NOW!"    

I was the first one there.  I stopped at park headquarters to buy a new park pass for the year, then drove to the nature center where I was to meet up with other members of BCO.  They just happen to be visiting many of the sites along the wildlife trails that are my new project.  I don't have to do this all alone.  Hooray!

The first birds I noticed were Turkey Buzzards.  Hundreds of them.  Ten or more to a tree.  I took a few pictures of them from the parking lot, then started making sure I had everything I needed.  Water, hat, gloves, snacks, binoculars, camera...I decided not to bring the binoculars.  I should have taken them.  They're on the do not leave behind list for next time.  

As my fellow hikers began arriving, the turkey vultures (aka buzzards) took to the skies.  There seemed to be a hundred or more circling overhead.  "Everybody keep moving," someone said.  Good idea, I thought to myself.  Don't look dead.       

Anhinga drying its wings.
Even with our 20-plus, noisy group walking way too fast, we saw quite a few birds.  For the most part, they ignored us.  If we got too close, they'd fly far enough to stay out of reach, but didn't leave.  On the trail by the picnic area at Elm Lake, we saw White Ibis and Little Blue Herons.  Further along the same trail, we saw  American Coots.  We climbed the observation tower and could see White Pelicans, Great Egrets, and a group of sleeping Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks with their heads tucked under their wings.  

On the trail leaving the tower, I saw my first Anhinga.  They don't waterproof their feathers, so they can often be seen drying them in the sun.  My field guide says they swim with their bodies submerged and only their heads out of the water, resembling a snake.  I'm going to have to keep my eyes peeled for that.               

Eastern Bluebird
After the hike, I saw a bunch of tiny birds near the picnic tables at Elm Lake.  I got excited, thinking they were Painted Buntings.  Nope.  I downloaded the pics, pulled out my book to confirm, and realized they were Eastern Bluebirds.  They are beautiful little birds, though, so it's hard to be disappointed.    

Restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, and grills are available.  Overnight camping is allowed in designated areas for an additional fee.  The picnic area is wheelchair accessible.    

Species seen this visit:  Turkey Vulture, White Ibis, American Coot, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck,       Great Egret, Anhinga, Vermilion Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Little Blue Heron, American Crow,           Tri-Colored Heron, American White Pelican     

I'm linking up to Wild Bird Wednesday.  Please visit to see more birds from around the world and link up your own photos if you have them.


Brian Miller said...

wow that is pretty cool about the way they swim...that would be pretty interesting to see...sounds like a good day out and about

Slamdunk said...

Sounds like a neat place to visit. I have seen turkey buzzards before in the wild and they are impressive--much bigger than I would have thought.

Blossom Vydrina said...

sounds like a great hike, cool that you found folks to go with

Larry said...

Nice photos Jen! Lots of good ones on your Facebook page too ;-)

Tempo said...

We have a lot of sharks in our waters but at least sharks don't follow you out of the water and chase you across the ground....

Stewart M said...

Nice set of pictures - we have the Anhinga here as well - although we call it the Snake Bird.

Thanks for linking to WBW.

Stewart M - Melbourne

Mary Howell Cromer said...

It looks like and sounds like you had an enjoyable day after all...full of sweet memories too~

Anonymous said...

Great shots, Jen.. I especially enjoyed the Bluebird; one of these days i hope to see one in person ;>)

Phil said...

I'd definitely not be disappointed with that shot of a Bluebird Jen. The sign made me laugh, but I guess you US folks get used to living with wildlife which can eat you.

TexWisGirl said...

great anhinga shot!

thanks for stopping in. that meadowlark i posted was in my yard up here in NE Texas - an hour outside of dallas area.

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Wow, you saw a large variety of birds on your outing! I remember seeing my first anhinga; they are quite beautiful. Lovely captures!

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