Friday, October 30, 2015

Brazos Bend Nature Walk | The End of the Trail

The abundance of wildlife at Brazos Bend State Park attracts nature lovers and photographers...

Lens Envy-Brazos Bend State Park, Needville, Texas

with serious lenses! I can only imagine the detail that you can get with such a high power zoom...imagine and dream.

I stepped over when this photographer was finished to see what she was shooting. 

Heron in Dead Tree-Brazos Bend State Park, Needville, Texas

It was a heron perched in a dead tree. This was the best I could do--lens zoomed all the way out--no crop--more of a scenic shot, than a bird photo.

A very brief drizzle of rain convinced John and I that it was time to head back. We had gone as far as the observation tower, just on the edge of 40 Acre Lake.

Swamp Sunflower and Cattails-Brazos Bend State Park, Needville, Texas

Retracing our steps down the Spillway Trail, I once again admired the swamp sunflowers against a backdrop of cattails.

We rejoined Elm Lake Trail where we left off and finished the loop around the lake...

Whistling Ducks at Elm Lake-Brazos Bend State Park, Needville, Texas

stopping to watch a flock of whistling ducks...

Turtle at Elm Lake-Brazos Bend State Park, Needville, Texas

and to photograph the only turtle we saw all day.

A Grove of Mature Trees Draped in Spanish Moss-Brazos Bend State Park, Needville, Texas

The trail ends back at the recreation area in a grove of mature trees thickly draped in Spanish moss.

Spooky Halloween Tree (filter applied)-Brazos Bend State Park, Needville, Texas

A dead tree nearby in silhouette against a drab sky gave off a spooky vibe that is entirely appropriate for this Halloween weekend.

Brazos Bend State Park is a great place to get up close and personal with nature. We had a lot of fun and plan to go back soon.

I hope you are able to get out and enjoy a nature walk in your area. I'd love to see your pictures!

Bonus Snap:

Armadillo on the Run-Brazos Bend State Park, Needville, Texas

An armadillo we saw in the campground on our way out...a strange and weird looking creature...perfectly creepy for Halloween.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Brazos Bend Nature Walk | Spillway Trail

Continuing our nature walk, John and I left the Elm Lake Loop Trail and headed to 40 Acre Lake by way of the Spillway Trail.

Alligator-Spillway Trail-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

Do you see what we saw in the water?

Close Up of Alligator-Spillway Trail-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

Yes, it's another large gator! His head is exposed and you can see his body just below the surface. The trail is much higher than the water level here, so I felt safe to take all the pictures I wanted.

Tree Arch-Spillway Trail-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

The trees along the spillway create a perfect leafy arch over the trail. It was a pleasant walk through the woods.

High Water Mark-Spillway Trail-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

The Brazos River flooded earlier this year and the park was closed for a time until the water receded. See how the lower portion of these tree trunks are dark? I'm guessing that's from the high water.

Out of the Woods-Spilway Trail-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

And then the scenery changes--out of the swampy woods and onto the open plain. 

Field of Flowers-Spilway Trail-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

A golden blanket of swamp sunflowers covered the field nearly as far as my eye could see. It was impressive!

The closer we got to 40 Acre Lake, the more alligators we saw. In one small area there were at least 20. 

That was also impressive, but...

Swamp Sunflowers-Spilway Trail-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

I like flowers no more pictures of the alligators.

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Brazos Bend Nature Walk | Plants and Flowers

John and I continued our nature walk on Elm Lake Trail at Brazos Bend State Park, enjoying the sights and taking photos. While John photographed birds and alligators, I began to focus my camera on plants and flowers.

Elm Lake Covered in Duckweed-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

The "green scum" on the surface of the water is actually tiny free-floating aquatic plants called duckweed. Elm Lake is covered in it.

American Lotus Leaves on Elm Lake-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

I was fascinated by the large leaves of the American lotus, a plant that is often confused with water lilies. 

Fresh Seed Pod of an American Lotus Plant-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

It is not in bloom right now, but seed pods are everywhere. The photo above shows a fresh pod filled with seeds.

American Lotus Seed Pods on Elm Lake-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

But, most of the seed pods I saw had already gone by and were drooping downward, looking like little shower heads or decorative landscape lights. 

Water Hyacinth on Elm Lake-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

The water hyacinth was blooming and was so pretty! But don't be fooled by its good looks. Its prolific and aggressive nature can quickly clog waterways. To keep it under control, Texas has made it illegal to transport this plant. 

Swamp Sunflower-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

This bright yellow flower was striking. I thought it resembled coreopsis, but I wasn't sure what it was. When I got home, I identified it as swamp sunflower from this site. It looked like an excellent source of nectar for this busy bee.

Aster-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

Patches of asters were bright spots on a cloudy day...

Creeping Spot-flower-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

as were these happy flowers known as creeping spot-flower.

I hope you enjoyed this part of our nature walk. There are still a few more photos to share.

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Brazos Bend Nature Walk | Scenery on Elm Lake Trail

Despite the cloudy, overcast skies on Friday, John and I decided to go for a nature walk at Brazos Bend State Park. We haven't been here in a long time.

Brazos Bend State Park Sign-Needville, Texas

I noticed there's a new sign at the entrance featuring one of the park's main attractions. If you've never seen an American alligator in the wild, this is the place to come. They are abundant here.

Elm Lake Trail-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

We began our nature walk at Elm Lake. We didn't have very far to go before we came across our first gator sighting. John pointed him out to me.

American Alligator-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

The alligator was in the water at the edge of the trail, partially covered with plant debris. He was huge! He never moved the whole time we were there. We kept a safe distance while taking our pictures. I was glad to move along. Alligators fascinate me and scare me at the same time.

There were so many things to see and photograph. I tried to snap a few pictures of birds, but soon gave up on that. I may have said out loud more than once, that the shot was well beyond the range of my lens. I wasn't hinting around or anything like that. Truly.

Bald Cypress Trees Along Elm Lake-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

Instead I focused on scenery shots that evoked the feeling of Elm Lake Trail. The bald cypress trees were showing just a tinge of fall color.

Covered Fishing Deck on Elm Lake-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

This is a pretty spot where the trail bends along the lake. There are several of these decks along the trail. They extend over the water for better views and for fishing. The white tube mounted on the side is for discarding used fishing line. 

Spanish Moss Covered Trees on Elm Lake Loop Trail-Brazos Bend State Park-Needville, Texas

For the most part, we had the trail all to ourselves, but it wasn't quiet. The music of nature--constant calls of birds and bullfrogs--played in the background as we continued down the tree-lined path under a drape of Spanish moss.

To be continued...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Lessons Learned by a Shell Collector

I've collected a lot of shells from Matagorda Beach over the years.

Many Shells on Matagorda Beach-Matagorda, Texas

In the beginning, I picked up every pretty shell and shell fragment I saw. 

But over time, I've learned to be more discriminating. I mean, how many dish tubs of shells does one person really need? 

Another lesson I've learned over the years is...

Hermit Crab Inside a Shell on Matagorda Beach-Matagorda, Texas

the best shells are often already taken...if you know what I mean.

Just something to keep in mind the next time you're out beachcombing.

You're welcome.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Beach Morning Glory

Beach Morning Glory most often grows along the base of the dunes and sends long runners through the sand toward the shore. I've read that these runners can grow to a length of 75 feet! This one is pretty long, but I didn't measure it.

Some people call this plant Railroad Vine and I can see how that name is appropriate. The "tracks" it puts down grow quickly and help to stabilize the dune structure.  

The pretty pinkish-purple flowers open early and close about midday. They don't last long, but they sure do make me smile!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Beauty of the Dunes

Fall Dunes at Matgorda Beach-Matagorda, Texas

I am struck by just how beautiful the dunes at Matagorda Beach are this fall.

Fall Dunes at Matgorda Beach-Matagorda, Texas

Shades of green, yellow, brown, and red cover the sandy hills like a patchwork quilt.

Beach Morning Glory-Fall Dunes at Matgorda Beach-Matagorda, Texas

The beach morning glory thrives in dense clusters at the base of the dunes, stretching its tendrils toward the shore.

Birds Eating Sunflower Seeds-Fall Dunes at Matgorda Beach-Matagorda, Texas

Ripening sunflower seeds provide the birds with food.

Various Plant Textures-Fall Dunes at Matgorda Beach-Matagorda, Texas

The variety of colors and textures is a treat for the eyes.

This garden on the dunes, designed and cared for by God, is as beautiful as I've ever seen it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Rare Pay Phone Sighting

Pay phones aren't common like they used to be. Can you even remember the last time you saw one? 

I was inspired to keep my eyes open for pay phones a couple of years ago when Nancy at Wyoming Breezes posted about how rare they are getting to be. It's taken me a long time to find one, but I finally did.

I was at the Exxon station in Bay City, Texas filling up the truck with gasoline when I saw it. It looked to be in good condition. There was even a line from it to the telephone pole nearby. Was it in working order? I was hopeful. 

I picked up the receiver and dial tone. How disappointing. Perhaps working pay phones don't exist anymore. I pulled the coin return lever for old times' sake (it was broken, too) and continued on my way.

As I was leaving town, I looked over at Diamond Food Mart, a store I've driven by hundreds of times. And there it was...

another pay phone. This one looked to be in rough condition, but I picked up the receiver anyway and much to my surprise, I heard a dial tone. 

As I was taking a picture, the store owner stepped out with a cell phone in his hand and asked what I was taking a picture of. I explained in a happy, excited tone that I had just found a working pay phone and I wanted to photograph it because it's so know...since almost everyone has a cell phone now.

I asked if he minded. He said it was okay, though I don't think he understood my fascination. I took my picture quickly and left feeling happy about my rare sighting.

Keep your eyes open for a pay phone sighting of your own.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tunnel Vision

Long Grass Along the Path to the Matagorda Beach Near Jetty Pier-Matagorda, Texas

Last week as I walked along the path to the beach, something in the tall grass caught me eye. I wouldn't have seen it, if not for the heavy dew.

Spider Web in Heavy Dew

It was a spider web, finely woven and shimmering in the sunlight. The beauty of it drew me closer and I snapped a few pictures, developing tunnel vision for this one web. So, when I looked up, I was very surprised to see...

A Multitude of Spider Webs in the Beach Grass-Matagorda Beach-Matatagorda, Texas

that I was surrounded by spider webs. They were everywhere in the grass and woven so closely to each other that they were almost touching. I was baffled by how I missed seeing this right away. 

It was really very least to me...but then, I'm not afraid of spiders. Are you? 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Happiness Is

...taking a selfie with someone you love.
Birdie and Rose
Me and Granddaughter Rose in my very first selfie. It was the only way I could get her to sit still for a photo.

...succeeding at a new skill.
Rose Turning a Somersault
See what I mean? Never still. Rose demonstrates her somersault abilities.

...lending a helping hand.
Robyn, Elizabeth, and Rose
Aunt Wissus and Mama fold a handmade quilt with Rose's help.

...cheering for the band at marching contest.
Robyn and Rose
Robyn and Rose enjoying the show. it all you've got.
Lafayette High School Marching Band competing at the Lone Star Preview Marching Contest
Lafayette High School Marching Band (my nephew's band) competing at the Lone Star Preview. Second place winners!

...eating a blue sno-cone on a warm, sunny day.
Rose and Her Blue Sno-Cone
Yum, yum! Aunt Patty knows what little girls like.

...snapping pictures with your camera to capture the memories.
Rose and Her Camera
Rose and I take pictures of each other on the ride home.

Just a few of my smiles from Saturday. I hope you had fun this weekend, too.
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