Pelicans on the coast to Alligators in the Park

22 Apr

A rain storm on Friday morning provided us with a wet journey the 70 miles or so along the coast to Palacios, a fishing port with one of the largest fishing fleets in the area catching mainly shrimp. Bayside RV gave us a lovely site overlooking the water to the front and the harbour to the rear, almost immediately we had a fly past from my good friends the Brown Pelicans.
Looking up on the internet I discovered this area, or at least the off shore sand bank, are one ofP1120571 the areas these birds breed, we presume there must be a good supply of food for them there were just so many to see.They delighted us with their fishing dives and slow gliding fly pasts, usually followed by a gull or two who try to steal the pelicans catch, the pelicans in turn follow the fishing boats trying to steal an easy meal from the fishermen.

P1120570There was a constant hum from the boats behind us as one after another they were readied for a trip out to sea.  There is little tidal change in these waters enabling them to set out almost any time from the harbour across the inner water and through the sand bar out to the ocean beyond.

The sun went down and still the hum of the boats continued

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Sunday morning another rain storm this time accompanied by thunder
awoke us after a very humid night. By 11am the sky was brightening and we were ready to move on.

The stormy skies however seemed to follow us around all day and when we arrived at Brazos Bend State Park we had driven in and out of the rain for almost a hundred miles. This State Park is just over 40 miles south west of Houston, the fourth largest city in the US, and yet this huge area of water, wet land and park could be a million miles from civilization. Admittedly we arrived at a quiet time and with more rain forecast weekenders were not staying around late.


We delighted in watching deer graze close to our site while we ate tea, we spotted rabbits nibbling grass too and many birds called to one another from the huge old trees all around us. Shortly after dark the first pats of rain began to fall on our roof, the storm had once more caught up with us, within a short time the rain was so heavy and so loud we were shouting to hear each other although we were only a few feet away. Just as you thought it could not rain harder – it did – we were thankful to be in haRVey and not a tent!

Monday arrived grey, damp and cooler but still warm enough for us to only need thin shirts as we prepared for a hike around the lakes. The ranger who checked us in had recommended a loop of Elm Lake and 40 Acre Lake connected by the Spillway trail around 5 miles plus the bit too and from the campsite.
The recommendation came with an over rider that we should spot lots of wild life along the way. At the trail head warning notices are posted regarding thisP1120647 parks numerous Alligators, we joked it would be like our bear sightings,  lots of warnings but no bears. However, in the green murky waters not far to the side of the path a pair of eyes were watching us!

Coots, moorhens, white egrets and herons were everywhere, we could not believe how many birds were all around us and with little fear of us too, not P1120646tame just quite happy for us to get within 30 feet or so before they flew a short distance further from us. The trail paths are well made and walking is easy,  grassy banks at the side of the water allow a hinterland for the wading birds to stand and catch there prey, ducks were squabbling as they pair up for the breeding season and dragonfly’s darted around our feet.

All the while we were being observed…

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In the middle of the path I almost stepped on a green frog, snoozing, P1120680presumably after a night on the town in the rain

There was a lot of green algae on the water and bits of logs floating around too, good places for wildlife to hide as they hunt or are hunted…

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Alligators, well yes, we saw a few…. small ones and…. P1120728 
the odd larger one too!

To be truthful, they were many, we began by thinking we were luck we had spotted one, and then another and another. One in particular was huge, we think around 10 to 12 feet, which is about as big as they grow here we are told, males being the larger animal. We watched as he stalked a water bird who initially was oblivious to becoming a lunch meal, but, just before it was too late squawked and flew out of reach of the lucking ‘gator who sank into the mud in a sulk. He then turned around in the water sliding closer to us and poked his head out unnervingly staring right at  us as we stood chatting to a local lady and her two friends. We decided it was time we moved away.

(click on moving pictures at top right of blog to enter the web album for more )

It was quite disconcerting how close to the path the alligators were lying with just heads out on the bank, we had been told though that they run, rather than attack humans and there have been no reports of attacks in Texas. It is the beginning of mating season and the booms of the males competing for dominance in their territory echoed all around the lakesides as we walked, The noise reminded me of snoring, but  It seems the female alligators find it  attractive.


We walked just over eight miles in total calling in at the office en route to extP1120718end our stay to 3 nights it was obvious there was so much to see and enjoy around the park.



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