- Brazosport Visitor and Convention Council, (888) 477 2505 and (979) 285-2501, www.visitbrazosport.com
Brazosport Nature Center & Planetarium
From the intersection of TX 332 and BUS 288 go north on BUS 288 to College Blvd., then west on College Blvd. to Brazosport College. Enter the first (east) entrance, and park at the Brazosport Arts and Sciences Center (where the NCAP is housed). The trail, which begins across from the NCAP, traverses a river bottom woodland community that is typical of the woodlands in this area. This particular woodland is now on the banks of Oyster Creek (formerly the bed of the Brazos River).
(979) 265-7661 www.bcfas.org
Sea Center Texas
Continue west on TX 332 to Plantation Dr. in Lake Jackson, then go south on Plantation Dr. to Sea Center Texas, a marine aquarium, fish hatchery and education center operated by TPWD in partnership with the Coastal Conservation Association and The Dow Chemical Company. Although the focus of the center is upon the marine ecosystem, a freshwater marsh and saltwater marsh have been created and can be accessed by an elevated boardwalk. A Wildscape demonstration area is located adjacent to the boardwalk.
(979) 292-0100 www.tpwd.texas.gov/seacenter
Dow Centennial Bottomsland Park
Continue west on TX 332 to Oak Dr., then go south on Oak Dr. to MacLean Park and the entrance to this 240-acre park. The nature sanctuary includes extensive bottomland forests along the Brazos River (known as the Columbia bottomlands), one of the most important migratory vectors for landbirds in the United States. Millions of migrants pass through these woodlands each spring as they complete their trans-Gulf migratory journeys.
Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
Take Lake Rd. north to TX 332 and then turn left/west on TX 332, following it to the GCBO entrance. This research and education facility is one of several such observatories operated throughout the Western Hemisphere. Regionally, GCBO coordinates research on migrating and resident avifauna, and sponsors numerous events such as Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza, a popular fall birding festival. This site hosts many native woodland birds, migrants in spring/fall, and is great in winter. Habitat found includes riparian woodlands lying adjacent to freshwater impoundment and Columbian bottomlands hardwood forest. Site includes boardwalk to photography blind overlooking wetland, native flora and flauna, and over 2 miles of trails. Hours are 8:30 _ 4:30 Monday _ Saturday.
(979) 480-0999 www.gcbo.org
Lake Jackson Wilderness Park
Continue west on TX 332 across the bayou to Lake Jackson Wilderness Park. An unpaved road penetrates the dense thickets and allows entry into this fascinating bottomland forest. Wood Ducks are often seen feeding on duckweed in the stagnant pools. These evergreen bottomlands remain lush throughout the winter (it rarely freezes here), and each winter a number of neotropical migrants, birds that otherwise would have continued to the tropical forests of Central and South America, stay on in these insect-rich woods.
Brazos River County Park
Go west on TX 332 to TX 521, then continue north on TX 521 to CR 30 (approximately 5 miles north of TX 35), and go west on CR 30 to Planter's Point Subdivision. Enter Planter's Point, and follow Colony Lane to Brazos River County Park. The ponds along Colony Lane attract numbers of Wood Ducks (these ponds are often in duckweed), and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons usually hunt for frogs and snakes along the shoreline. Enter the park, and walk the boardwalk along the river. Mississippi Kites nest around this park, so keep watching the treetops during the summer. Early mornings here are often punctuated with the staccato calls of Pileated Woodpeckers.
Brazos Bend State Park
Return to FM 521, and continue north to its merge with SH 288. Continue north on SH 288 to FM 1462. Go west on FM 1462 to TX 762, then north on TX 762 to PR 72 and Brazos Bend SP (28 miles south of Houston). The park covers 4,897 acres, with an eastern boundary of 3.2 miles fronting on the Brazos River. Although dominated by the Brazos River floodplain, Brazos Bend is a hodge-podge of coastal prairies, swales, oxbow lakes, freshwater marshes, and dense riparian woodlands. Big Creek cuts diagonally across the park, and Elm, Pilant, and 40-Acre lakes offer extensive open-water habitat. From the parking area at Elm Lake (look for Vermilion Flycatcher in winter in the rattlebean thickets along the shore), hike to the observation platform located between Pilant and 40-Acre lakes. Purple Gallinules and Least Bitterns nest in the marshes here, and Prothonotary Warblers breed in the willows along the levee. Acadian Flycatchers breed in the forest here. Few
dusks pass without a raucous chorus of Barred Owls shattering the evening's quiet.
Leaving Brazos Bend SP, continue north on TX 762 to Davis Estates Rd. (approximately 2.1 miles from PR 72). This road, much of it unpaved, is favored by local birders for its tendency to lure unusual species. Golden Eagles and Tundra Swans have occurred here in the past, and Wood Storks are often seen in the shallow ponds that border the road.
(979) 553-5101 www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/brazos-bend
Seabourne Creek Park
Return to FM 1462 and turn right, heading west toward TX 36. Turn north on TX 36 to Rosenberg. The park is located just east of TX 36 just south of the intersection with US 59. Designed for nature enthusiasts, this 164-acre city park includes a variety of trails, wetlands, coastal prairie and riparian forest, butterfly garden, and a 4-acre lake that attracts a diversity of birds.
Manor & Eagle Nest Lake
Head south 20 miles on TX 36, turning left/east on CR 18. Continue east on CR 18 to CR 25 and turn right/south to the lakes. This pleasant route carries you through miles of grazing lands that often contain Sandhill Cranes in the winter. Crested Caracaras are occasionally seen in the fields along CR 25. Of the two lakes, Manor Lake is the most interesting to birders. The extensive marshes here draw an impressive diversity of waterbirds including Least Bitterns, Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, and Purple and Common gallinules. Listen for the gurgling sounds of Marsh Wrens in late spring and summer. Bald Eagles nest in the area and often drift over these lakes in search of dead fish. Departing Manor Lake, check CR 27 to the east. Eastern Bluebirds are often seen in the pecan woodlands along this gravel road, and Pileated Woodpeckers are unusually common near the river.
Varner-Hogg Plantation SHP
Continue south on CR 25 to TX 35, then go west on TX 35 to FM 2852. Travel north on FM 2852 to the site. Chiefly managed as a historical site, this park offers limited birding opportunities. However, the park supports a healthy population of Eastern Bluebirds,
and the woodlands here should be inspected in spring for migrants.
(979) 345-4656 www.visitvarnerhoggplantation.com