Monday, June 27, 2011

Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

We haven't been back to Brazoria much since it took a devastating hit from Hurricane Ike three years ago. However, after seeing recently how well Anahuac NWR has bounced back from Ike, we thought we'd drive down to check Brazoria out on Sunday.

We were shocked by the state of the refuge. The current drought has basically dried up all the major ponds, including the one by the visitors center.

During droughts in Africa crocodiles often dig a hole in the dampest area they can find and then huddle down in the hole and wait for rain. It looks as if at least one of Brazoria's alligators is trying the same approach.

If conditions are bad for alligators, they are presumably almost as bad for the refuge's mammals. Two brown "things" on the roof of the observation deck looked suspiciously like the corpses of mammals, perhaps nutrias. I wonder if that's what they are - and how they ended up on the roof.

We started driving the auto-loop and were very depressed by what we saw. The landscape now looks more like prairie than wetlands. Large wading birds were absent, except for a Great Egret and a couple of Tricolored Herons. We didn't see a single raptor either. The most common birds were Eastern Meadowlarks and Red-winged Blackbirds.

The remaining puddles of water alongside Olney Pond had a pair of Willets, a Barn Swallow and a half-a-dozen Black-necked Stilts.


Insects were few and far between, certainly an ominous sign. This dragonfly was one of only a handful of bugs that we spotted.

Halfway around the auto-loop, we were so depressed that we left the refuge. As it was still only mid-morning, we decided to head over to Brazos Bend State Park and to have our picnic lunch there. Surely we could count on Brazos Bend to be full of life and to cheer us up! 

Brazos Bend State Park

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