|I didn't have to go far to "get out there" to Brazos Bend State Park, and it's a good thing, because my entire trip lasted for just 23 wonderful hours. I'm in the middle of doing my small business income taxes, plus regular work... couldn't spare any more time. But every little bit counts and I make the most of it.|
|Would you believe I didn't know how young this park is until just this minute?|
|This is one of the two things that Brazos Bend is best known for - the spectacular bottomland hardwoods, strewn with distinctive Spanish moss. Husband and dog wait for me with anticipation beneath one of the countless massive trees.|
|Herbertia. Apparently it has no common name. They were literally carpeting the forest floor.|
|Evening primrose, sometimes just called buttercup.|
|Southern iris. There's a good wildflower identification key at this URL.|
|The north shore of 40-acre lake. It looks so peaceful, but...|
|...that is where the park's other star attractions were congregating. This is the other life form for which Brazos Bend is so well-known.|
|The park has a wonderful balance of developed and wild areas.|
|See the rail?|
Watch him high-tail.
Gallinules fight their way through watery weeds to freedom. It's unfortunate that our interior waterways are polluted with this vegetation, which is invasive hyacinth. I hope someone comes up with a good way to control it (I'm thinking biomass).
|The park had flooded extensively in 2015, to the point where it had to be shut down for weeks. When abnormal environmental conditions manifest, insect populations can get all out of whack. |
Screengrabbed from the TPWD website.
|I have never seen this magnitude of caterpillar explosion. They were everywhere, raining down from the trees to the point where we couldn't even really take off our hats.|
|For the first time ever, I had to screen our rear door to keep out caterpillars instead of mosquitoes. I wasn't going to sleep with the door unscreened and have these guys inching across my face.|
|Did I mention that they were present in large numbers? That granular stuff you see there on the Interstate running board is mostly caterpillar droppings that accumulated overnight as I was parked at the campsite. Wow.|
|My favorite REI hat with the all-important back extension, which I had to spray down with Off to repel a stinging gnat that bore a profoundly disturbing resemblance to Canadian black flies.|
|Suffering and scourge in Canada - not in southeast Texas, please!|
|See, the biting black fly species are present in greater Houston, but normally we don't notice them because our environment is not optimized for those species, to the point where their numbers remain very low. They need flowing water to breed whereas mosquitoes do fabulously with still, stagnant water, of which we have an unlimited supply. The local floods of 2015 may have created lingering flow conditions that were just enough to support this very rare explosion of black flies in Brazos Bend. |
Florida-related quote screengrabbed from this site.
|The oxbows were mirror calm and beautiful in the morning light.|
|Art shot of the "touch table", where the staff maintains wild animal skulls, shells, skins, and other goodies for kids to handle and experience.|
|Canebrake rattlesnake. Exhibit snakes are always so fat! Lay off the mice, dude! You need to go jogging! Oh waitaminute, you don't have legs - make that slithering!|