Alligator Encounters at Brazos Bend

When I read that Brazos Bend State Park had alligators, I booked our stay here as soon as I could. Three hundred alligators make their home in this park! It wasn’t just about the alligators, though. It is on a migratory bird flyway, so many types of wading birds make this park a stopover, or their home. Plus many different animals. There are a lot of great walking and biking trails, too. When deciding which pictures to post, I was overwhelmed by all the beautiful shots I had taken just in the space of the 3 days we were here. Which ones to choose?

Our drive from Galveston wasn’t long. This park is just southeast of Houston. As soon as we had Frodo and Sam settled in, we took off for a bike ride. Elm Lake Trail went around the largest lake and through the marshes and promised our best chance of seeing wildlife. It didn’t take long for our first alligator sighting:

The alligator is sitting on the far bank, as if to emphasize the sign

And then, one alligator was snoozing not far from our feet:

This one looked like he wanted to make lunch out of the heron. Does it look like he already has something in his mouth? He was too far away to be sure.

Then they started coming in pairs, and one on the trail! They like to laze about in the sun on the trails, but this was the only one we saw doing that.

I was more than a little nervous despite my smile, and not too sure if this was a good idea despite the fact that the alligator was smiling as well.

There were lots of ducks and shore birds, and it was a great bike and walking trail in and of itself:

My brother Jared came out to see us again, this time for a bike ride and lunch afterward. There were plenty more trails to explore.

After lunch, Jared and I were ready for a walk. Then, after some more visiting, we decided to walk again. The bike ride was 4 miles, and then in total he and I walked 5.3 miles. Not bad for a man who is getting ready to celebrate his 80th birthday! On the bike ride, we happened to talk to a man who was fishing. “No luck this morning,” he said. We enjoyed the view for awhile longer, and as we turned to leave, he had caught a nice-sized bass. We all decided that we had brought him the good luck that he needed. While we were looking at the view, we saw a gazebo, and it was the gazebo that Jared wanted to hike to on our second walk.

Jared at the gazebo, with the overlook behind him.
I was admiring these trees, and then I looked straight up…
Like a scene from “The Birds”! And I got this picture after I had scared many more of them off.
They are anhingas, a bird I have also seen in Florida and Costa Rica.

We had birds at our campsite, as well. We watched this little wren and its partner busily build a nest inside our 5th wheel hitch. Below that picture is one of a cattle crane. There were a whole flock of them outside our living room window one morning, but they took off in a hurry. Cranes, egrets, and herons are hard to photograph; they fly away at the drop of a pin.

On our last afternoon, I walked to a nature trail around another small lake right next to the camping area and hit the jackpot: a mama alligator and 12 babies in a nest, just under a viewing platform! So, now there are 312 alligators in Brazos Bend.

Mama and her nest, with the babies on the middle left.
Little babies are so cute, even if they are alligators.

This is such a special place, not only in the sheer amount of wildlife that could easily be seen, but also in the safe haven that it provides for animals and birds. I’ll leave you with this last thought:

Next time: We arrive in Austin

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