Thanks for the ideas. I've been to Mercer and the Houston Arboretum. So there no professional photography allowed in Hermann Park? I knew the Japanese Gardens had that posted, but I didnt know it applied to the whole park. However, I've been there several times in the past 2 years with a tripod and no one ever said anything to me....Oh yes, Brazos Bend. Now I remember I was there a few years ago. You can get pretty close to the alligators-maybe close enough to get a good shot with 6x7. I don't consider med format a "wildlife" format 'cause you'd need a 1000mm lens most of the time. That's what APS-C is for-a 300mm lens actually has some good reach.
About the arboretum, sometimes when I would go on a Saturday it was closed to the public because there was an event going on. And it's always crowded on a weekend. I need to take a Monday off and go there.