The thunder of 40,000 snow geese taking flight, the salty breeze off the Texas Gulf, or the sight of a 12-foot alligator loafing on a muddy bank make a trip to Texas Mid-Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex a sensory banquet in any season. <P>Three national wildlife refuges -Brazoria, San Bernard and Big Boggy - form a vital complex of coastal wetlands harboring more than 300 bird species. They serve as an end point of the Central Flyway for waterfowl in winter, and an entry point for neotropical migratory songbirds tired from a 600-mile Gulf crossing from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. <P>Near greater Houston, the refuge complex offers haven for both wildlife and people. For wildlife, the expanse of salt and freshwater marshes, sloughs, ponds, coastal prairies, and bottomland forest represent feasting and lodging for all or part of the year. For people, these vestiges of wild Texas offer exceptional wildlife watching. <P>Freshwater sloughs wind through salt marshes. Rare, native bluestem prairie graces the uplands. The greater the number of habitats, the richer the ecology. Brazoria NWR is no exception. It has a key location on the Texas Gulf which helps Freeport draw one of the highest Audubon Christmas bird counts in the nation - more than 200 species. <P>
Nature of the Area
Look for alligators year-round on Big Slough and in refuge ponds. In dry seasons, their trails thorough the mud and excavated gator holes are easy to spot. Roseate spoonbills capture the pink glow of sunrise in their wings in flight. Those same rosy feathers proved a near death sentence when demand for feather hats decimated spoonbills, great egrets and other fine-feathered fowl until plume hunting ended before World War I.
The gravel Big Slough Auto Route runs 7.5 miles through the Big Slough Recreation Area, the heart of Brazoria NWR, wrapping around Olney and Teal ponds, and accessing Big Slough and Rogers Pond. The 3-mile entrance road from County Rd. 227 (which passes through private lands) also can provide wildlife viewing. County Road 227 cuts through some of the refuge?s best bluestem prairie terrain. The gravel auto-tour is also open to biking.
Brazoria provides several footpaths in different settings, leading to a wide variety of habitat experiences, All manner of pathways are available, from a boardwalk to an abandoned railroad right-of-way to woodland and bayou trails. None of the walks is especially long, and all are on relatively flat terrain. Wandering off-trail here is not advised, however, because alligators and poisonous snakes reside in the taller grasses.
Boats are permitted on Nicks, Salt, and Lost lakes by way of the Intracoastal Waterway or Bastrop Bayou. Boats are not allowed to be launched from the Salt Lake Fishing Area parking lot. There are two boat ramps: one on the west bank of Bastrop Bayou, just off County Rd. 227 and the other off County Rd. 257 on the refuge?s southwestern boundary.
From the intersection of Highway 288 and FM 523 in Angleton, take FM 523 to Highway 2004 intersection. Continue on 523 for 5.5 miles to County Road 227. Turn left on CR227 and proceed 1.7 miles to the refuge entrance. The refuge office is in Demi-john which is three miles east of the refuge entrance. <P>