Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Visit to Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center Wetland

After seeing a brief documentary about the wetlands at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center near Athens, Texas, we wanted to visit. It is a short drive from Dallas, and we took the backroads to fully enjoy the drive.

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.

10 comments:

Grandma K said...

That was a lovely place! Yes - those little fellas (snakes) are awake and out now.

I am not sure, and you saw in person, but wasn't the white flowered vine a dewberry vine? You could tell more about it than a picture can show.

The weather seemed perfect for that outing too! Hope you had a great outing.

Tired Teacher said...

What a fun place to walk and explore. I'll admit the snake would have made me paranoid, as I've seen my share while out walking here in Wyoming.

Jan said...

I was looking out for crocodiles... this looks a little like the set for an early James Bond film. Jx

Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking said...

Looks like a nice place to stroll through. Isn't that pavilion great!

MartiDIY said...

I thought about that or blackberry. I have had dewberry vines here and the vines at the center seem to have less thorns, or maybe I should say they had thorns more like on a rose cane and less like a prickly hairy vine. I don't have any experience with blackberries and couldn't tell if these vines were more upright than my dewberries. Either way, I'm glad they were there for me to enjoy rather than in my yard to torment me.

Yes, the weather was perfect, and then changed the next day.

MartiDIY said...

Well, it was minding its own business so we did likewise - except to take this photo.

MartiDIY said...

There WERE crocodiles, or maybe they were alligators. But they were in an aquarium type room so I didn't bother with a photo. A mom was trying to get her little girl (looked about 2 or 3) to sit on the window ledge by the gator's mouth. She wouldn't do it, smart girl.

MartiDIY said...

Yes, it was wonderful. I would have loved to be there when it was built - to see the teamwork as much as how they built with the pegs.

Gill - That British Woman said...

oh my I was loving the tour, until I saw the snake.......I would not have loved the place after that!!!

Gill in Canada, your newest follower......

BluMoon said...

Love these photos, what a nice place to visit, the sort of thing we like to do, my cousin had a place at the foot of the hill country in San Antonio and we visited many places when we stayed with her, funny thing many of the spring wild flowers were the same as home here in England it was quite a revelation!
Jackie