Tuesday, November 1, 2016

George Bush Park - Part One

George Bush Park is, and has been for the last 10 years, my home patch.  7,800 acres of largely unvisited bayous, swamps and wetland forest.  The park is situated in the far West of Harris County in Texas.

The park has soccer and baseball fields and a shooting center situated on he Southwest boundary along Westheimer Parkway.  This short grassland is subject to frequent flooding, creating large swallow lakes for a week or two.  When this coincides with migration, these areas are greatly beloved by many migratory birds.  I photographed these two on a flooded baseball field this spring:

There are also miles of bicycle trails many of which are unpaved and one or two oil/gas pipeline easements bisect the park.  When these easements are mowed they allow for very convenient walking to more remote and rarely visited areas.  The good news is that most of these more urban activities take place around the perimeter of the park leaving the center as a frequently flooded and thickly forested wetland.

Birding in the park is generally very good, with winter and spring being exceptional for waders and sparrows.  It's also a good place to see many differing species of trees and shrubs.  As the park is located on the extreme edge of the East Texas forest area it contains several plant species normally found further East as well as the expected Gulf Coast plants.

As well as great birding, the park has plenty of mammals: White-tailed deer, Wild Hogs, Coyotes, Squirrels, Rabbits, Raccoons etc.  All of these are fairly easy to photograph.  I tend to favor using a mobile blind overlooking a suitable habitat.  It pays to keep an eye open for visitors that you don't want to get too close to.  There are plenty of Alligators within the park boundary as well as venomous snakes.  I've seen Cottonmouths, Copperheads and Coral Snakes, I haven't as yet seen a Timber Rattlesnake.  There is a possibility of them being in the park, the old cattle dip tanks might be a good place to look for them.  The few times I've seen one they were always close to old broken concrete in undergrowth.