Thursday, April 24, 2014

Brazos Bend State Park: Elm Lake Loop Trail

Finally!  Sunshine on the weekend!  The day started with a heavy fog, but it burned off early and gave way to beautiful blue sky.  I went to one of my favorite local birding spots.  Brazos Bend State Park is a photographer's dream.  I spent four hours taking 280 photographs while traveling 1.7 miles.  I may need to do a separate post for every trail of this site.

There were dozens of Black-bellied Whistling-ducks in the trees.  

I got my first good photographs of Least Sandpipers.  These are very similar in size and appearance to the Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers, but those both have black legs, not yellow.  

All that green stuff is duckweed.  It's supposed to be very nutritious for the birds with more protein than even soybeans.

The Little Blue Heron didn't care that I was photographing him.  Other places, birds fly away.  Here, they sometimes fly closer.

My first Green Heron of the year stood practically motionless as I took dozens of photos from several angles.

Sadly, the birds don't seem to recognize the alligators as dangerous, either.  I turned around to photograph some turtles, heard splashes, and turned around to see this one chomping.  I believe he got a Coot.  I enlarged the photo and think I can make out a foot and black feathers.  

This is the time of year the alligators bellow and try to attract mates, both frightening and delighting the kids.  It's a tough decision.  Do I look for migrants, nesting birds, or bellowing alligators?  Curses for whoever invented 40-hour work weeks!

Linking with:  Wild Bird Wednesday.

Date:  4/20/2014
Conditions:  Fog early, then sunny
Temp:  65 - 80 F
Species Identified (19):  White Ibis, Black-bellied Whistling-duck, Common Moorhen, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, American Coot, Red-shouldered Hawk, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Anhinga, Pied-billed Grebe, Least Sandpiper, Red-winged Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Blue-winged Teal, American Crow, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, Northern Cardinal, Neotropic Cormorant        


  1. 280 photos! Sound like a fun day.
    It's always hard to chose a favorite (they all are!), but I'll go with the green heron.

  2. Gotta ask... What does UTC stand for? Upper Texas Coast? Coordinated Universal Time? And what's the number? I hope it's not a dumb question. :)

  3. Wow, awesome sightings and great post. Poor Coot! I would keep my eyes on the gator.. Great photos! Have a happy weekend!

  4. Your least sandpipers and green heron shots are outstanding! What a great day for birding! Don't you love when they stop and pose like that?

  5. It sounds like you have a finger that can't stop clicking Jen, a bit like me sometimes. With all those lovely birds I don't blame you and I would love to have birds fly closer rather than further away. Lovely little LEast Sandpipers - they look like a tiny version of our Wood Sandpiper.

    Yes, it's a hard life having to choose betweeen taking pictures of birds or gators!

  6. Wonderful photos, I love those birds!

  7. They're all so photogenic (even the gator in his way!) - and as if they're posing for the camera!

    My favorite's the Green Heron, though!

  8. Love the 'gator - and even cold blooded animals need to eat sometimes!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  9. well done, jen! loved seeing your whistlers, too. :)

  10. Creative and beautiful nature photography ~ love the first one ~ all are great for OWT ~ xoxo

    artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

  11. Wonderful images of beautiful birds.

  12. WoW, you sure did see lot's of beautiful shore birds and ducks!!

    and a great shot of the alligator!!

  13. Wonderful series -- funny how we don't blanch a bit when we see (say) a blue heron eating a fish, but when we see an alligator eating a bird (or a turtle as I did one time) we shudder. They've gotta' eat too, but ....

    That picture of the green heron is one of the best I've seen.

  14. The Circle of Life!!
    I was born and raised in Florida!! We had a cabin on the ST. Johns river in Central Fla. and use to have scads of ducks - mascogies on both sides of the river!! One summer in the mid 70s, seemed that the gators came out of the canals and suddenly all the duck were gone by the end of summer. then people started loosing their dogs. I'm too fond of the gators!! Know they are a part of life - but. . . . .

  15. I´ve never seen ducks sitting in the tree like that before. Great set of birds. :)

  16. Whoa, serious chomp. Thanks for sharing the great shots though Jen.

  17. I love the pic of the whistling ducks. (And I love their name. I've never heard of that before). And those sandpipers are pretty.