Monday, January 25, 2016

The Alligators of Brazos Bend State Park

While we were staying at Goose Island, Denisa struck up a conversation with a regional state park employee.  When she asked what his favorite state park was, he immediately answered, "Brazos Bend State Park!" He also added, ". . . and they even have alligators!"  Since we don't have any set itinerary, we naturally made plans to head north to go there next.  We love the flexibility to add new stops and adventures! We definitely agree that this is a great park, and we have one of the biggest, most beautiful camping sites we've ever seen.

This park is full of some huge live oak trees that are draped with Spanish moss.  We are falling in love with these giants!

Denisa is sitting on a bench under a tree, looking out over one of the many lakes that cover much of this state park.

All that water and wet lands is good habitat for the most famous wildlife at Brazos Bend--the American alligators.  This is the first one we spotted on our first day at the park.

A teacher who had brought her high school students for a field trip snapped this picture of the three of us--Mark, Denisa, and the alligator laying behind Mark.  There is something spooky about turning your back to a gator just a few feet behind us.

We've never been in a park where there were so many signs warning about the alligators.  We thought it was fun that one was lounging in the water right below the sign.

But the most interesting alligator we saw was this big boy on the spillway.

Then we saw why he had that big toothy grin.  Peeking out of his mouth was his next meal.

This would be a close-up of the red-eared slider turtle that was upside down in his jaws.  The turtle was obviously not having a good day.

We watched as the live turtle would use his legs to inch his way towards the front of the alligator's mouth.

Then the alligator would raise his huge head, and fling the turtle deeper down his gullet.  Mark caught this picture when the gator's mouth was wide open to show the situation.

We sat on the bridge for over an hour, watching the life and death drama unfold.  We must be easily entertained, because this was the slowest nature documentary we have ever watched.
We were cheering for the turtle, as he worked his way to the front of the gator's teeth each time.

One more picture of another attempt of the alligator to swallow this uncooperative lunch.

After an hour, we finally continued down the trail.  It looked like a stand-off (or an upside down lay-down) as the turtle and gator were still in the same positions when we returned another hour later.  It's at this point that we should write how this struggle ended--but we don't actually know.

What we do know is that finding alligators at Brazos Bend is more fun than hunting Easter eggs.  We would find 10 on our first day when the park was quite busy and the weather was beautiful.  It was fun spotting them in the murky waterways along the bike paths.

The easiest to spot were those soaking up the sunshine on the shores. 

 The second day there were fewer people in the park, and we counted 22 different alligators.  That would include this mother that some times has babies riding on her back.  We were really disappointed that she didn't have any hitch-hikers today.

Some times those sneaky alligators try to entice unsuspecting bicyclists to come read the signs that they are hiding under.  But Mark didn't fall for it.

That wasn't the only alligator on the trail.  We circled four in a row.

If seeing the big boys in the park gets boring, there is also a chance to see and touch some of the resident baby alligators.  This 5-month-old gator is at the nature center.  One of a group of 30 hatchlings that had to be moved within the park, most of the siblings were returned to the wild.  There is a one percent survival rate among hatched babies, as they make a tasty meal for the resident birds.  For the one percent that do survive, they will return the favor and make tasty meals of those same birds.

1 comment:

  1. love that park, when I worked for Texas Parks and Wildlife this was one of the parks I was involved in developing