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Michigan Revisited, July 2017

Part 1: Brazos Bend State Park (TX)

All photographs ©2017 by Mary Beth Stowe

            The great thing about gassing up, getting your supplies, and packing the car the morning you leave on a trip is that you can add a mess of local birds you won’t get elsewhere (at least if you’re going out of state, as I am this time)! J  Probably the best Valley bird was a pair of Green Parakeets at the Exxon station!  Other locals included the dove population, the yard Buff-bellied Hummingbird, and a Golden-fronted Woodpecker.  Got going about 8:00, picking up Caracaras and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers along the way, but the best bird was a quick look at a Mississippi Kite!  All the big hawks (except for a flyover Redtail) were on the wrong side of the freeway for viewing…  First rest stop was (conveniently) the Sarita Rest Area, and lunch was at Refugio with a horribly salty Whataburger, so at the next stop where we gassed up at a little Podunk place south of Wharton I got an ice cream (I think the guy parked his cars at the pump and in front of the store so it would look like people were stopping there… J)!  He looked Indian, but there was a Christian worship song playing on the radio (or whatever), so I told him I liked his station! J

            Ran into horrible construction along US 59, but lo and behold there was a sign for Brazos Bend State Park!  So I wheeled off post haste, only when it T’d at the off-ramp it didn’t tell you which way to go!  I initially went the wrong direction, probably made an illegal U-turn, and eventually found the brown signs pointing the way!  It was wonderful being in the big trees again, but by golly it was hot!!!  They had all sorts of warnings out.  The ranger suggested Creekfield Lake Trail for an exercise hike that would be good for birds (she called it a “microcosm” of the whole park), so I crawled through, picking up some nice trip birds like Acadian Flycatcher and Carolina Chickadee!  Had I been on the ball I should have asked her what the best trail would be for Prothonotary Warbler, because as I was getting the eBird list set up, I saw that was a possibility! But as it was it was a nice walk through the woods with tons of Eastern Pondhawks, plus a huge darner that went gliding through but never stopped.  The only butters to sit still were a Tawny Emperor and Carolina Satyr, plus something I thought was a Dun Skipper at first but that had a little crescent of pale dots on the ventral hindwing (and I didn’t bring the butter book up with me).  Carolina Wrens actually showed themselves, and picked up Crow and Red-bellied Woodpecker as a couple of more “northern” birds for the trip, but even in the shade that heat was pretty bad.  At the observation deck at Creekfield Lake itself were several Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Common Gallinules, and various herons.  The highlight of the trail was this young Armadillo that was rooting through the leaves and walked right up to me; pretty cute!

Obligatory entrance sign...

Creekfield Lake Trail

Creekfield Lake

Large feather that many of my friends felt belonged to a Barred Owl...

George Observatory

Creekfield Lake from the overlook

            The rangers suggested I go back to the freeway the way I came, but I decided to do it the old fashioned way and looked at the map, and sure enough, there was a more direct way to get to the Sam Houston Parkway, so I ended up going along some pretty back roads!  Unfortunately they were ripping up that highway as well, and thinking I was free and clear with my TxTag, I noticed (too late of course) that theirs was called “EZTag”, and I was hoping beyond hope that the two were interchangeable!  (I tried finding that out on line:  they said EZTaggers could use theirs on the TxTag roads, but it didn’t say anything about the other way around…)  I was sure hoping I wouldn't get fined, but thankfully my friend David Gold came to the rescue, and assured me that my TxTag will work on the Parkway!  That’s good, as there’s a stretch that won’t take cash at all, so I’m glad I got that thing!

            Saw a Hilton along the frontage, so got off and did a U-ie, and thankfully they had a room!  This is a lovely suite where I can watch the oncoming thunderstorm! J

Continue to Anahuac HQ & Tickfaw SP

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