Our first class was held last Wednesday at Brazos Bend State Park in Needville, Texas. We spent the morning in classes and spent the afternoon taking a nature walk through part of the park. The head naturalist at the park, David Heinicke, taught the classes and led the nature walk.
In the morning, we learn about frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, and...wait...what is that in Dave's hand?
Yep. It's a baby alligator.
It is estimated that there are more than 250 alligators over 6' long at Brazos Bend.
In the afternoon, we set off for our hike.
Dave stops often to take a close look at things.
He gives us time to ask questions and write field notes.
If you look carefully, you can see Dave has a golden silk spider crawling on his hand.
Dave tells us this spider, which is commonly called a banana spider, spins a yellow web.
Birds can see yellow well, and thus avoid flying through its web, but insects can't.
A golden silk waiting for prey.
One of our clever naturalist interns spots this baby alligator, probably one of the babies that was hatched at the nature center this summer and released last week. Only 2 or 3 out of every 100 alligators that hatch survives into adulthood, Dave tells us.
Dave shares a spiny orb weaver, commonly called a crab spider, that has adapted to have a very hard shell.
Dave tells us about bald cypress trees, the viceroy butterfly, bark lice, yellow-billed cuckoos, resurrection fern, Spanish moss, red buckeyes, mustang grapes...I think he knows everything about our part of the world.
I end up with twelve pages of notes. I am learning so much.