CRITTERS AT BRAZOS BEND STATE PARK  Page 7--MAMMALS
This page was born 02/19/2007.  Rickubis designed it.  (such as it is.) Last update: 4/28/2014
Images and contents on this page copyright 2002-2014 Richard M. Dashnau 

Here are my other Brazos Bend and/or critter pages:
 ----------------------------------------------------------------                  OR,  FOR OTHER ANIMALS:
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Introduction                Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
Snakes-nonvenomous 1-------------------------------------------    Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 3
Snakes-nonvenomous 2-------------------------------------------------Insects, non-toxic
Snakes-nonvenomous 3------------------------------------------------Spiders
Snakes-venomous------------------------------------------------------Mammals--Mammals--OTTERS!
Birds-Waders----Birds-Raptors---------------------------------   Lizards!--Turtles!

 

----------------------------------Rick on the trail. 12/31/2007
That's me on the 40-Acre Lake Trail at Brazos Bend State Park (12/31/2007). I was waiting for an otter to show up. It didn't.
As I get pictures of other mammals at the park (and elsewhere), I'll be putting them here. 

April 27, 2014  I had just driven past Park Headquarters when 2 cats appeared and leisurely walked onto the road. I stopped the car, and looked at them, and my first thought was "BOBCATS!" But I
couldn't believe that they'd just stand there about 15 yards in front of my car.  But they were large, and had bobbed tails, and long legs...and the color was right. So... BOBCATS!!
They started walking along the road, and I decided to get the camera out. I was afraid to look away from the cats because I thought they'd disappear. But, they continued walking. I continued
following in the car, driving very slowly. I took a picture through the windshield, then shot a few video clips. I continued driving forward to try to keep up with the Bobcats, but I didn't want to scare them. So,
there was a combination of driving and looking through the zoomed camera.  The Bobcats finally walked onto the Prairie Trail.  I drove until my open passenger-side window was next to the trail. Both Bobcats
turned and looked over their shoulder at me, then walked up the trail. I was able to get two last pictures as they moved up the trail.
     
  According to information online from TPWD, Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are usually 25 to 30 inches long, stand 20 inches tall at the shoulder, and weigh 15-25 pounds. The tail is about 6 inches long.
Sometimes Bobcats are referred to as "Felis rufus". But, in the book  Bobcat:Master of Survival by Kevin Hansen; there is reference to a difference in the number of teeth that most cats
(felids) have compared to what Lynx have.  Bobcats and Lynx have 2 fewer teeth than Felids do (they are missing an upper premolar). So, it is probably more accurate to group Bobcats with
the Lynx--therefore Lynx rufus. (page 35) They can have a range of 5 to 50 miles, butcan travel even less if there is abundant food. Like many predators, they will take whatever prey is available;
including mice, rabbits, birds, fawns, and carrion. Bobcats prefer hunting at night (their eyes with elliptical pupils are efficient at gathering light).  Breeding usually begins just after January, and
 2 to 7 young are born about 50 days later.
The TPWD sites are here:  http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/bobcat/
and here:  http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/nonpwdpubs/introducing_mammals/bobcats/

The edited video is here:  wmv format 9mb    mp4 format 18mb
  I have more pictures and video clips of another Bobcat in 2006 on lower on this page.

September 15, 2013  
I was at the South end of 40 Acre lake. Low water levels had uncovered that end of the lake, leaving the lake bed exposed. I noticed two large depressions
in the mud, and decided to go examine them. They were obviously traces left by some animal.



I focused my attention on the larger depression. As shown by comparison by my walking stick (which is 71 1/2 inches long), the hole is about 4 feet long.



A number of marks showed in the mud. These appeared to be footprints, most likely from a feral hog.



My walking stick is about 1 inch thick.  The footprints, if that is what they are, are pretty big. There are some other
marks that I couldn't identify. By comparison alligators have 5 toes on their front feet (manus) and 4 toes on their back feet (pes).
Here's an example of my hand with the pes impression of a large alligator.



But what I thought was the most interesting thing about these traces was the numerous "scrapes" in the impression. I believe
these are impressions of the hog's fur!!  
The study of animal life traces is called "ichnology".  That is, the changes in the environment left by living animals. The
three "pillars of ichnology" (according to Anthony Martin in his book Life Traces of the Georgia Coast) are:
1) Substrate -the material which has captured the life traces
2) Anatomy - the parts of the animal which have altered the substrate
3) Behavior - the actions done with the anatomy to leave marks on the subtrate
Ichnology can be studied in living organisms (neoichnology); or ancient organisms (paleoichnology).

July 01, 2012-- Today was overcast with sporadic bouts of wind and rain. With weather like that, I didn't expect to have any takers for my Creekfield hike, but one never knows.
It turned out that I had a few takers, so we toured the Creekfield trail.  
As we were coming around the last length--the portion nearest the Nature Center--I noticed a fawn walking on the trail about 50 yards ahead of us. We stopped, and I shot a few
pictures. Then, we slowly moved forward. I wanted to see if we could get closer to the fawn. We really could not, but it didn't run away from us either. We'd move a few
steps, and the fawn would move a few steps. As we crossed the wooden bridge, I lost sight of the fawn, and it was out of my mind when we got to the "sapsucker tree".
We got back to the trail intersection,  I turned right to go back towards the Nature Center...and there was the fawn.
It was near the road, to the left of the trail. We tried again to move slowly towards the road, but I took us off the trail and into the grass on the right to give the fawn room.
A few seconds later, I noticed a rabbit next to the fawn. For many of us, the image of a fawn conjures up the name Bambi--and the character. Well, I was not only looking
at Bambi, but apparently Thumper was visiting as well. As we slowly moved towards the road, some other visitors on the opposite side of the road also had noticed
the fawn and rabbit, and were moving towards them. This spooked the fawn a bit, and it moved deeper into the trees. We crossed the road.

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About 2 hours later, I was leaving the park because of the overcast weather. I decided to drive around the park a bit first. I turned the car towards the campsites,
and there-in the field by the Creekfield Trail-was the fawn. It was resting comfortably.  And off some yards to the left was a doe--most likely the fawn's mother. I drove by a few times
and shot some video and some photos. The doe wasn't close to the fawn, but I tried to get them both in at least one shot.
And then another patch of rain came, so it was time to go.
I enjoyed our visit with the fawn. I wondered at  the lack of  panic on such a young deer. But, its mom was nearby.

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April 24, 2011:  It was another busy Easter at Brazos Bend State park. However, before the big rush started, I got to hear a chorus of alligator bellows at about 8:30 am. I spent most of the day riding around the lakes, and educating park visitors. I got word that a fawn was visible from one of the trails. A doe will sometimes leave a new fawn in a protected spot for a while. This fawn was in a good spot, across the water from the trail. Today's RICKUBISCAM is cropped from one of the pictures I shot. While I was watching the fawn, the clouds moved away and the sun came out. When it did, it shined through the trees onto the fawn, making this wonderful image. The fawn slept peacefully through the day, at least it seemed to be fine whenever I passed it (and I passed it many times today).  Below is a larger version of the image.

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March 12, 2006,  The image below is from one of the photos I took with my digital still camera at Brazos Bend State Park.

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Some of you may have heard about the bobcat that we got to see by the Spillway Bridge at Brazos Bend State Park on March 12.
This is my story:
I met a couple walking on the North part of the 40-Acre Lake trail at about 9:00 AM. We talked for a while, and they mentioned
that they'd seen two bobcats fighting over by the Spillway Bridge, and that one was still over there. I hastened to the bridge, and
spent about 10 minutes walking back and forth on the bridge--scanning both sides of the bridge--and looking through the
undergrowth for a cat skulking in hiding. When I didn't see one, I was a bit disappointed. As I was resigning myself to this, two regular park
visitors came up on bicycles. As we were talking about various animals, etc.; I looked back towards the bridge, and UP.
I noticed a dark mass at the top of one of the trees. Scanning through my binoculars I identified the bobcat. My jaw dropped, and I
spoke aloud the term for the male offspring of a canid female; and then said,
"THERE'S the BOBCAT!"
We hustled over there.
...And I remained there for about 2 and one-half hours. Word of the bobcat spread like wildfire amongst the visitors and park staff.
I'd set up my video camera, and it has a pretty nice screen that people passing by can look into. The camera has a 25x optical zoom, so
that was ok. Other Park Volunteers brought out a spotting scope, and at that range (I doubt the cat was more than 50 feet away) you could
have counted its whiskers through the spotting scope. During those hours, the bobcat would lie still, apparently trying to doze; but occasionally favoring
us with baleful looks as if wishing we would all leave.
Bit by bit, it moved from one branch fork to another, lower one. It would try that spot for a while, then move to the next lower one. Finally, it made the
last leap, and was gone in the rice.

The series of images below were shot with my still camera. It's an Olympus C-770 which had a 1.7 tele-adapter on it.  The light was constantly changing, which is more obvious in the video clips further below, and this made taking pictures and video a bit difficult. In a situation like this (one not likely to be repeated), I just shoot as many pictures and video clips as I can. Hopefully some of them will come out. Even at the the relatively short distance involved (somewhere around 50 feet), my camera just doesn't have the reach to give large, clear images. However, I could have done far worse than the pictures I did get.  I can really clear them up if I present them at the small resolutions I use on these pages.  I could look at these pictures--and watch the video--over and over again (and I have!). What a beautiful animal!  Click on the images to see the 320 x 240 version of them.

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The series of images below are single frames from the video clips linked below them. Clicking the images will show a slightly larger one (320 x 240)
and clicking the links should show you the video clips.  The clips show how windy it was that morning. In fact, during one of the Bobcat's moves, a huge gust of wind blew my camera and tripod over, and blew the sunshade covering it inside-out.
The Bobcat dozing up there, propped in that unlikely position, seemed strange to many observers. I was impressed by the balance showed by the Bobcat both while sleeping (amazing!) and while it moved. I've left the audio track intact in most of these clips. The sound of the wind is evident, but it's also fun hearing some of the wonder in the voices of the other people watching the cat. This Bobcat was estimated to weigh about 25-30 pounds.

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                                  FIRST VIEW wmv 3760kb                                       FIRST VIEW, CLOSER 3766kbFROM ANOTHER ANGLE 1154kb                                  BIT OF A STRETCH 3404kb

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                             BIT OF A STRETCH 3404kb                                                                        THIS IS COMFY? 560kb                                                                 TIME TO MOVE 2504kb 

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                                A BIT LOWER 2604kb                                                                         A BIT LOWER, CLOSER 2673kb                                                               TIME TO GO 3448kb

Although many people (including me) find the sight of a carnivore hunting interesting, these moments of watching a predator in repose are also very special to me.  The Bobcat ( Felis (Lynx) rufus ) is one of three (according to the book North American Wildlife, by David Jones) native wild cats remaining in North America. The other two are the Mountain Lion (Felis (Puma) concolor), and the Canadian Lynx (Felis (Lynx) canadensis). The Bobcat's size allows it to maintain its range more successfully than the larger Mountain Lion because this allows for a greater variety of possible prey and habitat to hide in. I believe that the large number of Nutria in the area where we saw the Bobcat (with lots of young Nutria around) may allow the cats to feed well right there.  As I watched, I realized how lucky I was to spend a few hours near this wild cat; a species which has been able to continue to thrive in our changing environment.
As an environment changes, this can put pressure on animals and plants living there. Fortunately, when organisms reproduce, the offspring are not exact replicas of the parents.  Sometimes a "newer" model offspring may have characteristics that allow it to survive more efficiently in the changed environment than the "older" model (which would include some of its siblings and others in its generation, as well as the parent generation). Surviving more efficiently means that less energy is expended on the basic survival needs--like finding enough to eat and not being eaten. This can leave more energy available for other tasks, like reproduction. More efficient organisms (the "newer models") would tend to reproduce more than the "older models" and eventually the "older models" could be phased out entirely. Or, small populations of the older models could exist in areas that were still favorable to them (if any such areas can be found in time), while the "newer models" could exist at the same time, elsewhere, in the changed environment.  Organisms that can evolve new behaviors or physiological changes at a pace with their environment as it may change will survive. Those that can't change quickly enough--perhaps because of slow or reduced reproductive rates--will die off.  The Bobcats seem to be doing well so far.
This was one of those really rare events at the park, and I was happy to see it. It was LOTS of fun seeing and hearing the excited visitors ,
park volunteers and staff.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Steven Orzack, of the Fresh Pond Research Institute (www.freshpond.org), for his editorial comments regarding this article and for our correspondence in general.  He happened to be visiting BBSP for the first time on the 12th and also got to see the Bobcat "in person".  Talk about LUCK! Thank you for the support, Dr. Orzack!
One more thing. Any mistakes in spelling or grammar are mine. ALL mine.

August 24, 2003  This morning, I was at the park, and heading up towards the VC/NC (Visitor Center/Nature Center) from Elm Lake when I saw a small group of raccoons off to the side of the road. I stopped to take a few pictures, and when I did, they advanced towards the car. There were about six of them, and one stayed back off the road; but the others came right up to the car.  One larger one (I assumed an adult, while the others were juveniles, but I'm not sure) not only approached my car on the open window side, but it stood up, and seemed to be reaching for the door handle!  Danged masked thugs! (see the picture, NOT A HAPPY TREE FRIEND, below. BTW, the caption refers to a series of animated short "films" that can be found on the internet. If you seek them out, don't tell anyone *I* sent you.)
Folks, this is TERRIBLE behavior for animals that are supposed to be wild. It's dangerous for all life forms involved, and is caused by park visitors (or other irresponsible people) giving food to the raccoons. The raccoons could have easily been run over if a car came from the other direction. I had to beep my horn repeatedly to get them to move from under my car so I could drive on. These raccoons aren't tame, either.  Hand feeding them is only inviting a situation where a human can be bitten or attacked. If the raccoons become a nuisance they will be removed from the park (and NOT RELOCATED ANYWHERE!  GET IT? ). Here is how the term "nuisance" applies to raccoons:  Raccoons are dexterous and smart enough to get into ice chests, drop down on food hung up in trees, open tent flaps, or even work open screens or chew through wood frames of shelters. They run quickly, and also have a set of nice, sharp teeth. When cornered, a raccoon is a fierce adversary.  One could "corner" a raccoon by waking up and finding a live raccoon in one's tent or shelter (which, if they've lost their fear of humans, they could get into by a number of methods--regardless of whether or not people are in there).  One could also "corner" a raccoon by opening an ice chest that might have closed upon a raccoon that got into it. It is a bad sign for raccoons to brazenly approach a large, mobile object like a car looking for food--in broad daylight.  They could likewise approach people at picnic tables (with food already out in the open); and then suddenly realize that the humans at the tables have the raccoon's food; and suddenly feel threatened--with bad results. These are examples of how much of a problem raccoons can be. They forage everywhere, most notably all the areas that people like to use; unlike almost every other animal in the park. Feeding raccoons; and any other animal, for that matter; doesn't do any of the animals any good at all.
DO NOT FEED ANY ANIMALS AT BRAZOS BEND STATE PARK OR AT ANY OTHER PARK!

On a different note, I have to relate an incident that happened at the VC/NC today. We've been gifted with the nocturnal appearance of a type of click beetle that has two spots that glow in the dark like eyes. Evidently, the appearance of this beetle was exciting news for some local entomologists. They (the beetles, not the entomologists) are quite striking, and the glow from the spots is easily visible in a lighted room with just a small amount of shading.  One of the park people had taken a beetle out to show everyone, and we were all being impressed. I turned my back for a second, and when I looked again, everyone was looking up.
"Where'd it go?"
"It went up towards the light!"
"There it is;  it---OOP! Spider got it!"
There were a few moments of silence....
Most beetles can fly. This species of click beetle can fly. It flew from the palm of the hand holding it to land on the upper edge of one of the fluorescent lights---where, we (and the click beetle) discovered, a spider lived. When it landed, a spider immediately ran out, grabbed it, and disappeared back above the light.  End of beetle.  Fortunately, there are many, many more.

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                                                NOT A HAPPY TREE FRIEND

If you'd like to know more about the park follow these links:

Brazos Bend State Park   The main page.

Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer's Page  The volunteer's main page.
 

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