Fall Wildflowers, Too Close Gators

“A flower doesn’t love or hate you. It just exists.” ~ Mike White

Wildflowers are getting harder and harder to find anymore. Thank goodness for set-aside green spaces like state parks; they (usually) actively work to keep prairies and forests wild to the best of their abilities. These habitats do more than provide food for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators; they are the very foundation for whole ecosystems; at the edges where they meet is where a lot of wildlife can be viewed (or photographed). We support these wild spaces by purchasing annual passes and visiting them often.

The more and more people that populate once-rural areas like where we live, the more and more natural habitat is being destroyed for human-supporting ones. It shocks me to read marquees for new businesses moving in to an awaiting, freshly constructed strip mall (never mind the houses and apartments also sprouting like winter weed seeds). Judging from these swiftly emerging, brightly lit landscapes, nail salons, pizza parlors, and donut shops are what we need — not wild spaces.

As for this group, wildflowers are what we crave, not pedicures or cheesy bread. Therefore, we must drive to go find them.

Brazos Bend State Park is a welcome recharge on Fridays for the Monday-through-Thursday school-filled wind down. Now that the weather is starting to cool off (finally), short nature hikes are made more bearable for energy-burning kids. In another month or so the cool cloudless days will be replaced by wetter darker ones. Then it will just be plain cold.

Our panorama was immediately filled with fields of Goldenrod in full bloom, dotted sporadically by oak tree canopy as we pulled into the entrance. Deep breath. Deep calming breath. Like pumpkins and squash and hay bales, this plant just feels like autumn and so very…wild.

Goldenrod, not the sneeze weed you might think

Field of Daisies

Golden-Eye: The Other Yellow Show-stopper
Viguiera dentata

The canals along the walkway were all dried up due to the lack of rain, and, with it, the usually abundant count of gators and water birds were conspicuously absent. We managed to find one Great Blue Heron in the distance, hear the calls of the elusive Wood Duck hiding deep within the cypress trees, and witness as one lone Yellow-crowned Night Heron threw back a crawdaddy for lunch. It seemed there was no way he could eat something that big, but to him, it was no problem to manage and (eventually) swallow. Amazing, those birds.

There were plenty of wildflowers to be seen, but — unlike wildflower bloggers like Steve in Austin — I am no good with scientific names and even have difficulty tracking down what variety when pressing park officials. (You’d think they would know this, right? Mostly not.) It reminds me that I need to discover reliable search pages for searching and finding wildflower species in Texas and peruse these.

Any ideas, people?

White Flower Thingy
Flos confusius

Conoclinium coelestinum

There’s a rare shot of me here shooting the flower below, care of my friend. I enjoyed having adult company on our hike for once, and since I’ve never been much of a selfie girl, the back of my head will have to suffice. This is how I must look most of the time to my kids, kneeling, face pressed to something small, a camera attached as an appendage.

White Mouth Dayflower
Commelina erecta
Such a cute little stamen heart!

By the way, I am positively loving my new eyes. I can shoot like a sniper, one eye in the camera view finder, the other out in the distance looking for movement, never missing a thing. Shooting birds is absolutely what I love to do; catching their personalities is my top priority in doing so. Now, if they would just show up for fall…

At this park, we love the alligators best. Normally, we would be counting as we walk, “…54, 55, 56,” but today, they were mostly absent. This one sunning a little too close to the path decided to cross it juuuust as we (cautiously) walked past him. He was kind enough to let us get all the kids past first before he acted upon his intention. Thanks for that, Little Buddy.

Taking Life in Stride

As for my favorite ‘wildflowers,’ these leggy ones really stand out in their field. They’re pretty awesome at attracting the most beautiful butterflies and birdies too.

I organize these and other images in a Brazos Bend Album
in SmugMug. You can flip it at your leisure, or simply click on a photo.

You can easily ID Texas wildflowers by color at
Gary Regner Photography.

Do you have a favorite wildflower search engine
that you use for ID’ing plants?

10 thoughts on “Fall Wildflowers, Too Close Gators

  1. Beautiful flowers :-). I’ll choose wildflowers over a pedicure every day. Cool alligator shot. Do you really count more than 50 of them sometimes? It is hard for me to imagine since I’ve never been to a place with alligators.


  2. So there I was tra-la-la-la-ing during the first few paragraphs, strolling happily through your gorgeous yellow pixies for flowers.

    And then, whooooooosh


    Can’t say much other than…Alligator!

    Amazing moment, Shannon. Thank you for bringing it to us. Also, did I mention?



  3. Really enjoyed your journey through Brazos Bend, Shannon — how wonderful of that very large alligator to wait until you passed. yikes. Great photos, and I am so happy for you to be enjoying your “new” eyes. 😀


    1. My eyes are like a new lease on life. It’s a good thing I have a stack of books to catch up on; the birding and gardening and nature-ing have been put on semi-hold these last few weeks. I have a nasty case of nature deficit disorder. Hence, the quickie nature walk.

      Thanks for stopping in, Jet. Always nice to have you here!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Plumdirt. I had a feeling you might come through on that. I will add it to my search page! I hope you are enjoying your autumn from where you are…and not getting pummeled by post-hurricane flash flooding. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

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