2023 · Days of The Week · Texas · Throwback Thursday · USA

John Bunker Sands Wetland Center In April 2013

In late March/early April 2013, I browsed around on Facebook. And while I worked on my page, scrolled, and clicked, I saw a few photos of Bald Eagles nesting in the Dalles/Fort Worth area. I did some research about the birds and found out that their nest is at John Bunker Sands Wetland Center in Seagoville, Texas. Just southeast of Dallas. After a bit more reading, it said the center is open to the public every first Saturday of the month. “Perfect”, I said to Kevin. “The weather is supposed to be beautiful this weekend. I’m going to take Katelynn to see Bald Eagles in Seagoville this Saturday.” He replied he can take care of Sara. She’s still too little for walking around for a long time.

The following Saturday, Katelynn and I packed a couple of snacks and water before we hit the road. It was about an hour’s drive to get to the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center. Katelynn was really excited to get to see these beautiful birds. We both have never seen Bald Eagles in the wild.

The entrance area of the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center in Seagoville, Texas

When we arrived at the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, I paid our entry fee. The ladies at the desk had a few questions. One was how we heard about the center. I replied: “Facebook.” The ladies were surprised. I explained to them how I found their page … “and now we are here to see some wildlife.” Before we got on our self-guided hike, Ron wanted to show us a few animals inside the center. “Katelynn, are you ready to see a two-and-a-half-foot ‘gator? We’ve got a couple of snakes, too.” Katelynn cheered “YEEAAHH! I’m ready for that!” Ron got Ally, the alligator, out of a fountain. He had to be quick. Ally and her brother wanted to go after his hand. But at the end, he was holding Ally tight in his hand. Ron explained to us the anatomy of a ‘gator, how they swim, hunt, and even chill at the banks of a river. He also told us that Ally’s momma is a big alligator, which lives in the marshy swamps of the center. “So, don’t get too close to the waters”, Ron warned us.

Next, we moved on to see a Western Hognose and a Corn snake. As a child, I was always terrified of snakes, since I had no knowledge of snakes. Over the years, I’ve learned so much more about these animals. And now, I have no problem touching and holding them. The Western Hognose was the first snake I’ve ever put in my hands. It was very interesting, how these reptiles contract their muscles to slide forward. This little guy had a good grip on my hand and fingers. It was very fascinating. After the hognose, Ron pulled out the corn snake out of the terrarium. I almost jumped back. Looking at the snake, I said: “Yeah, this one is a bit too big for me. I’ll pass and watch Katelynn holding it. The corn snake really liked Katelynn. She immediately had to check out Katelynn’s soft hair. Katelynn enjoyed having the snake around her neck and learn the difference between venomous and non-venous snakes. And we found out, how to tell between a boy snake and a girl snake.

Once we were done looking and learning about these wonderful reptiles, Katelynn got equipped with binoculars. We were also advised to walk on the trail and stay away from the water’s edge. On the way to the transmission towers in the west of the center, we saw beautiful yellow Spring flowers and some waterfowl. The American Coots made quite some noise out on the water. And we’ve seen tons of ladybugs along the way.

At the end of that trail, we finally got a good glimpse of the adult eagles. The Bald Eagle couple arrives around October/November in Texas. The female lays eggs in January. Both parents take care of their offspring until early mid-May, before they all migrate back up north. In October/November it all repeats itself again. Due to the marshlands at the center, the Eagles have a lot of food resources. I guess, this is why they always choose to come back to the same place.

On the way back to the building of the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, we’ve seen some footprints (I believe from a raccoon), more flowers, and birds. Once we left, there was a mare with her foal. So adorable! I parked on the side of the road for a moment, so Katelynn could look at the horses from the car.

On the road back home, I noticed that Katelynn had a long morning. She took a short nap in the car. I guess, the fresh air, the walk to the eagle’s nest, and learning about alligators and snakes knocked her out. It was a lot to take in for a 9-year-old. No doubt! 🙂

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