Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Armand Bayou Nature Center Part 2

I ended my last post about The Armand Bayou Nature Center at the Interpretive Building. Entering this building you will find various reptiles and amphibians on display. On the outside you can choose from several  paths to other areas of the nature center, that branch out from this central location. Next to the Interpretive Building is a bird blind, with feeders, fountain and bath. The trail heads for the three main hiking trails is located here also.

Bird Blind 

Viewing wall of bird blind.

Bird blind interior viewing area.

Fountain and pond, viewed from bird blind.

Trail heads.

Armand Bayou Nature Center trail map.
Armand Bayou Nature Center trail map.
The three main trails are the 1.32 mile Martyn Trail, the 1.38 mile Karankawa Trail and the 1.5 mile Lady Bird Trail. On this visit I walked the Martyn and Lady Bird trails. Even though I am a novice hiker, I found both of these trails easy. On both the trail I walked were many downed and broken trees, that provide evidence of the damage done by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Martyn Trail
  • Martyn Trail is 1.32 miles in length
  • Loop Trail
  • Has a Scenic Bayou Overlook
  • Wildlife Viewing Platform
  • Access to the Boat House 

Uprooted tree at  Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Tree uprooted by Hurricane Ike

Fallen trees at  Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Fallen trees provide hiding places and homes for wildlife.

 Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Decomposers like worm, bacteria and fungi will gradually break down these tree, where they will add important nutrients the the soil.

Martyn Trail at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
View along Martyn Trail.

Martyn Trail at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Martyn Trail

Martyn Trail at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Martin Trail

Overlook sign at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Trail Sign

Overlook at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
View from the Bayou Overlook

Armand Bayou Nature Center
Cormorant seen from the Bayou Overlook

Trail sign, Armand Bayou Nature Center
There is a Wildlife Observation Platform along the Martyn Trail.

Armand Bayou Nature Center wildlife observation platform.
Wildlife Observation Platform, Martyn Trail.

Armand Bayou Nature Center
View from observation plantform.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Life Bird

I went out this morning to see what new wildflowers I could find blooming. But instead of finding wildflowers I spotted a Crested Caracara, which is a life bird for me. I rushed the shots trying to make sure I didn't miss, so there not that great, but at least I got it. Caracaras are do nest in the area, but are uncommon, so I was really excited to see it.

Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Armand Bayou Nature Center Part 1

The next series of posts will be about my recent visit to Armand Bayou Nature Center in Pasadena, Texas. This was my first visit to Armand Bayou Nature Center, but it will not be my last. There are three main trails each a little over a mile long, with the longest at 1.5 miles.
After paying, you begin by exiting the back of the admission building where you will see the Hawk display. From the hawk display follow the boardwalk as it twists it's way through the woods and over a pond. There is a covered deck at the pond, that allows viewing of wildlife, while protected from the sun. Following the boardwalk the it's end, you will come to the Education (Interpretive) Building that has live animal displays, such as turtles and snakes. The Education Building serves as a sort of cross-road to all the other activities found at Armand Bayou Nature Center. I will write more about my visit in the next posts.
Armand Bayou Nature Center
Sculpture at the entrance road. 

Armand Bayou Nature Center
Close-up of Sculpture

Armand Nature Center entrance
Entrance to Armand Bayou Nature Center

Armand Bayou Nature Center Map
Map posted near the entrance to the nature center.

Hawk House at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Hawk House, Admission Building in the background.

Hawks at Armand Bayou Nature Center

Boardwalk at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Boardwalk leading from the Admission Building to the Interpretive Building. 

Marsh Rabbit, Sylvilagus palustris
This Marsh Rabbit, (Sylvilagus palustris) ran from under the boardwalk as I was going by.

Pond ant Armand Bayou Nature Center
Pond along boardwalk.

Pond and boardwalk at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Pond and Boardwalk.

Covered observation deck at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Covered observation deck overlooking the pond. 

Irises at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Iris growing at the pond's edge.

Spanish Moss covered Oak Trees at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Spanish Moss clinging to oak trees.

Interpretive Building at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Interpretive Building at the end of the boardwalk trail.

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Parking Lot Birds

When I think about going out to photograph nature, I am usually thinking about going down to the coast, a local marsh, or perhaps a wooded nature trail. I sometimes forget that even though we are  surrounded by all the trappings of civilization, nature is all around us. One of the things I notice everyday is the birds. Many birds like the ones in this blog have adapted well to city life. The bird that probably comes to mind most often is the Rock Pigeon (Columba livia). Around here the pigeons seem to be a bit more shy that the ones you see hanging around park benches of larger cities.
Rock Pigeon, Columb livia
Rock Pigeon

Even though I live about 20 miles from the coast I still see quite a few seagulls. You can find them hanging around on just about any day, but they seem to be most plentiful on windy overcast days. Some days I arrive at work early with some stale bread to feed the grackles that are plentiful, and there will be no gulls in site. But as soon as I throw out some bread, I will be surrounded by dozens of gulls. Ring-billed Gulls are usually the most common, along with a few Laughing Gulls.

Laughing Gull, Seagull, birds
Laughing Gulls

seagulls, laughing gull, ring-billed gull, birds
Ring-billed Gulls and one Laughing Gull

Last but not least the ubiquitous Great-tailed Grackle. A year round resident of Texas, it is often seen around parking lots, lined-up on power lines, and filling trees.
Great-tailed Grackle
Two male Great-tailed Grackles in the foreground.

Great-tailed Grackle
A group of female Great-tailed Grackles

Great-tailed Grackle
Filling the trees.

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