Coastal Plains Loop
- Alvin Convention and Visitors Center Bureau, (281) 585-3359, www.alvintexas.org
Village of Oyster Creek Municipal Park
From Surfside travel west on TX 332 to FM 523, then go north on FM 523 to Village of Oyster Creek Municipal Park. These woodlands, situated along Oyster Creek, are worth checking for migrants as you travel toward Brazoria NWR. Red-shouldered Hawks are often seen perched on the power poles around the parking area. Look for Belted Kingfishers along Oyster Creek.
Travel north on FM 523 to CR 227, then east on CR 227 to Brazoria NWR. The refuge consists of nearly 50,000 acres of coastal grassland, bluestem prairie, mud flats, fresh and salt water marshes, and a bewildering assortment of potholes, lakes, and streams. The observation platform overlooking Teal Pond allows close views of the waterfowl (geese, Sandhill Cranes) congregations there. Also, walk the nature trail across Big Slough, behind the visitor's pavilion. Wood Storks are common during the late summer and fall in the impoundments along the driving loop. In addition to the remarkable diversity of waterbirds and waterfowl that reside here, this refuge contains over 5,000 acres of native bluestem prairie. In this grassland look for Sedge Wrens and Le Conte's, Henslow's, and Grasshopper sparrows. White-tailed Kites and White-tailed Hawks frequent the prairies in winter. In wet years, Black Rails can be heard calling along the road to Salt Lake and Seaside Sparrows are common here. The tidal flats at low tide often overflow with shorebirds.
(979) 964-4011 www.fws.gov/southwest/
Amoco (Chocolate Bayou) Nature Trail
Continue northeast on CR 227 to FM 2004 (look for Crested Caracaras along this road). Go northeast on FM 2004 to this trail. The grasslands in this area (along CR 227 and FM 2004) support an impressive diversity of raptors. In addition, be sure to inspect the flooded rice fields in spring for American Golden-Plovers, Whimbrels, and Buff-breasted Sandpipers. White-tailed Hawks have nested in previous years in the prairie across FM 2004 from the Amoco plant. To access the nature trail, park on the west side of FM 2004 near the Mustang Bayou bridge. Amoco has developed this area for wildlife watching, and the woods here (along Mustang Bayou) attract landbirds during migration.
Amoco Wetlands Trail
Continue northeast on FM 2004 to FM 2917, then go northwest on FM 2917 to the Amoco Wetlands trail (1.1 miles from FM 2004). The ponds may be reached by walking the road (look for the GTCBT sign) to an observation platform. The road first passes through a sizable prairie (listen for Sedge Wrens in spring), eventually reaching the wetlands and pond. American Bitterns and Green Herons are often seen here, and migrant shorebirds often
drop into the shallow wetlands during migrations.
Before leaving Chocolate Bayou, continue northwest on FM 2917 to the Solutia Prairie (2 miles from FM 2004). Solutia has restored a significant tract of coastal prairie at this location, and Sedge Wrens and Le Conte's Sparrows may be seen (or at least heard) here.