Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Story and Photography by
George Hosek

When I arrived, I was surprised to see the gate was already open , the sign says "Gate open at sunrise, close at sunset", so you never really know what time you will be able to get in, unlike Anahuac NWR where the gate is always open.

I drove east 2 miles on the packed shell road  so common  along the upper Texas Coast, ( in the winter you can usually see red-tail hawks sitting on the fence posts that line the road ) and signed in at the ranger station, after signing in I headed straight for the ponds.

The thunder of thousands of geese taking flight from the coastal marsh, bathed in the soft hues of a crisp, cold morning is something to behold. During the winter months ducks and geese of all kinds gather by the hundreds of thousands, to take advantage of the warm weather and abundance of food.


Brazoria NWR usually ranks number one or two in the nation in the number of species sighted.

According to the Audubon Society's annual Christmas bird count, birders often identify more than 200 different bird species including, rare sightings such as the trumpeter swan, yellow rails, roseate spoonbills, reddish egrets, white faced ibis, american bitterns and wood storks. Wading and shorebirds such as herons, ibis, gulls, terns, snipe, avocets, sandpipers, and stilts are more common.

In summer, birds that nest on the refuge include ten species of herons and egrets, white ibis, roseate spoonbill, mottled duck, white-tailed kite, clapper rail, horned lark, seaside sparrow, black skimmer, and scissor-tailed flycatcher.

Brazoria NWR was established in 1966 as a migratory bird project for wintering waterfowl, 43,388 acres of coastal estuarine and coastal prairie habitat, support over 425 wildlife species and is a haven for more than 300 bird species.

It also contains about 4,000 acres of native coastal bluestem prairie. It is located on the Texas gulf coast at the west end of the Galveston Bay Complex.

The refuge also supports numerous alligators, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, frogs, toads, salamanders, lizards, and turtles. The upland prairies support sandhill cranes, quail, doves, hawks, and owls. Visitors can see abundant signs of coyotes, raccoons, bobcats, otters, and armadillos.

By the time I reached the pond golden light was already starting to break through the now dissipating fog, I drove east a little further so I could get a shot of the sun rising through the picnic shelter and  the calm water of the saltwater lake beyond.


I was so engrossed by the sunrise I almost missed what was happening behind me to the west, a fogbow had formed, a very rare weather phenomenon similar to a rainbow, I just happened to turn around in time to capture a few images before it disappeared.

I also managed to photograph a red-tailed hawk, ring-neck duck, merganser, geese in flight, caracara, silhouette of an egret and some landscapes. Foggy mornings are definitely worth the effort when it comes to photography.

Brazoria is absolutely one of my favorite parks for wildlife watching and photography, plus it's just a quick 45 minute drive form my home. So, if you want to see some outstanding wildlife and beautiful scenery take a trip to Brazoria NWR one winter morning, you may just be surprised at what you find.

Location - From the intersection of State Highway 35 and FM 523 in Angleton, take FM 523 for 4 miles to Highway 2004 intersection. Continue on 523 for 5.5 miles to County Road 227. Turn left and proceed 1.7 miles to refuge entrance.

Recreation - Wildlife-oriented recreational opportunities available at the refuge include an auto tour, fishing, hunting, bird watching, photography, and general nature observation.

Also, school children can learn from hands-on experience during outdoor classrooms held at the Refuge by their teachers.

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 neo-tropical migratory songbirds tired from a 600-mile Gulf crossing from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Located just south of Houston, the refuge complex offers a haven for both wildlife and people.

Wildlife-oriented recreational opportunities available at the refuge include an auto tour, fishing, hunting, bird watching, photography, and general nature observation. Several opportunities are available for saltwater fishing.

The Bastrop Bayou Public Fishing Area offers a handicapped-accessible lighted fishing pier, bank fishing pull-offs, and a restroom. The Clay Banks Public Fishing Area offers 1 mile of all-weather access to bank fishing. Saltwater fishing by boat is permitted on the Refuge waters of Nicks, Salt, and Lost Lakes.

Bobcats stalk their prey in the tall grass of the coastal marsh. They have long legs and large paws and can weigh as much as 30 pounds.

It's ability to blend in to it's surroundings makes it a formidable advisory for animals such as birds and small mammals.


Volunteering at the Refuge

Volunteers are needed to do a variety of jobs at the refuge. There are 8 trailer pads available, reservations required. Please contact the refuge for more information.

1212 North Velasco, Suite 200
Angleton, Texas 77515





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Content copyright George L. Hosek. The articles and photographs on this site are for viewing on your computer only, absolutely, no commercial or personal reproduction without written consent from George Hosek.