When first entering the center, there is a big pond. At first glance, it appears to be just another pretty pond. Wouldn't it be nice to have a backyard pond big enough for a rustic boat beached on the edge?
But a sidewalk slopes down on the far end and what seems to be a retaining wall is really an aquarium wall with plexiglass panels that allow us to see inside the pond.
There were the usual bass and catfish along with these big guys.
There was another building with aquariums and then we followed a sidwalk which wound between a series of fishing ponds. We only saw one little boy catch a fish and Hubby surmised that since it was catch and release fishing that the fish were expert at nipping off the bait without getting caught. There were plenty of turtles, ducks, and geese in the water too.
Near this pond was a bog planted with pitcher plant (Sarracenia alata) which also goes by the common names pale pitcher plant, pale trumpet, and yellow trumpet. They are native plants, not only to Texas but also to Henderson County where the center is located. I must admit to some plant envy here and would like to add this beauty to my bog.
But what we really came to see was the wetland area.
Just inside the entrance to the wetlands is a picnic pavilion. The sign says it was constructed in about a week, and nearly all of it has pegs instead of metal nails or screws. That bright hexagon is just my camera.
The trail is a wide walkway of smooth concrete sidewalks and wooden ramps and bridges.
Even though there is a concrete or wood walkway all along the trail, you do have to watch your step. This little guy was right beside the sidewalk.
Alongside the trail, the wetlands have both deep sections of water, shallow marshes, and rocky areas which work together as a natural filter to clean the moving water.
I loved how the plants grew right up to the edge of the trail, as if it had never been disturbed, allowing us to be right in the middle of it. As you can see, we had very little company on the trail.
Many plants had signs but this pretty little rose didn't. I love how it gracefully wrapped around the fence.
There were also a couple of dirt trails off the main trail, more narrow and with lower hanging limbs. Of course, we to take that trail. Turns out it was used for hunter education.
Lizard's tail (Saururus cernuus) looks great growing on the edge of the water.
On the last pond, a duck blind overhung the water. Inside, a room with large windows for the hunters and an information center with duck calls. Outside that room was an open air area with a "window" near the floor so the dog could jump into the water to retrieve a duck. And on the outside was a ramp so the dog could climb back in. Hubby pronounced this a luxury duck blind, and while it didn't look luxurious to me, it sure beats hunching down in the reeds before dawn. That's really all I remember from the one and only time I went duck hunting with Hubby.
It's a 1.6 mile trip from one end of the wetlands to the other so good exercise as well as an interesting walk.
A few hours walking, listening to interactive displays, photographing, watching for wildlife, and enjoying nature, and then we were back at the entrance to the center.
I must admit I was disappointed to see so many non-natives planted at the center, including several invasive species listed on their own Texas Parks and Wildlife website. I can understand the Asian jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum), crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), and knock out rose (Rosa radrazz) in the established beds near the doors; they were probably planted years ago. But a newly planted bed near the entrance included daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), oxblood lily (Rhodophiala bifida), Byzantine gladiolus (Gladiolus byzantinus), marigold (Tagetes patula), and wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens). None of these are native to the United States, much less Texas. Their landscapers had also committed crepe murder and the bare trees showed years of arthritic deformity.