Only a short drive from Houston, Brazos Bend State Park seems like a far away land. Early spring is a time of transition and one of the best times to visit the park. Migratory birds will need a rest stop. Reptiles will begin to relish the warmth of the sun. Wildflowers will blanket the meadows and trail-sides. White-tail deer fawns are taking their very first steps. It all starts to happen at once!
The park normally offers at least 3 free programs every Saturday and Sunday but during this very busy spring break week staff and volunteers will offer at least 3 free programs or hikes every day. Visitors can take advantage of this “marsh madness” for nine straight days from March 10 – 18, 2012.
Park Naturalist Sharon Hanzik tells us that programs and hikes will cover various topics including snakes, owls, butterflies, story time, wetland birds and of course everyone’s favorite “marsh monster” the American alligator. “Alligators will be ready to fatten up after a long period of inactivity and loss of appetite during the winter months” says Hanzik. “Visitors are sure to see plenty of basking alligators around Elm and 40-Acre Lakes”. Hanzik says that the forest will also be a treat for hikers who visit the Red Buckeye Trail. They may witness the beginning of the blooming season of this native under-story tree. This trail offers the best views of the Brazos River. Brazos Bend is also home to one of the few remaining remnants of tall grass prairies in the state. “The prairie is one of the best areas to view and photograph wildflowers including the spectacular spider lily.”
“Of particular note this year, is an “odd duck”, says Hanzik . Photographer Chris Hirsch photographed a hybrid teal that is most likely a cross between both a green wing and blue wing teal. This is indeed a rarity. It was first photographed Saturday, March 3 in Elm Lake but has since taken up residence in nearby Old Horseshoe Lake. Hanzik says “come see it while you can as it is a migratory species due to leave sometime this spring.”
The park’s Nature Center will be open to the public each day from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. The center interprets the park’s varied ecosystems and includes live reptile displays that include six-month old baby alligators as well as both venomous and non-venomous snake species. Children and adults can also enjoy a touch table, plant identification catalog and push-button recordings. Don’t forget to stop by either of the park’s gift shops at the Nature Center or Park Headquarters to purchase a souvenir or wildlife identification guide. There is something for everyone. Purchase a Texas State Parks Annual Pass and get free entry to any state park in Texas for a full 12 months.
For detailed information about Marsh Madness programs, entry fees, day-use facilities, camping and other park information, visit www.brazosbend.org or call 979-553-5101.