Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

Although I have a full plate of things to do around the home during the 2012 three-day Memorial Day weekend, I still tend to get a little stir crazy if I can’t go out and photograph something during my time off.

While I may bitch about living in southeast Texas (being a gal from the mountains, I’ll always be doing that), I readily admit that it’s rather nice to have two very interesting photographic ops right at my back door:  Brazos Bend State Park, and the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.

Right after visiting with my mother on Saturday morning, I grabbed my cameras, loaded them, tripod, and myself into the car, and drove the 20 miles south-southeast to check out the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.

Map

I’ve been there before, but that was back in 2007 (if I remember correctly).  At that time, the road to the refuge center was only paved for maybe 2 miles, and the remainder was all gravel.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find that now, in 2012, the entire road to the refuge center is paved.

For the photos you see here, I used my Canon 5D Mark II cameras and my 16-35mm and 70-200mm lenses.  I carried everything in my new Lowepro Fastpack 350, which, btw, is AWESOME!  I am going to Mesa Verde NP and Arches NP later this year, and wanted something that would carry a camera and long lens, as well as water, snacks, etc.  Ok, sorry, I went off on a tangent.  The 16-35 lens was attached to the tripod for landscape shots, and I hand held the 70-200 lens (with IS turned “on”) for the wildlife and more close-in images. I find I hand hold this lens more often as not, eschewing the tripod ring.  I was pleasantly surprised upon post processing that I really only had to do a very little editing for light/brightness and a teeny bit for sharpness details on some (but not all) of the photos.  The light was just right that day – very sunny but with some interesting clouds.  So I kept the ISO at 200 and the aperture around 7.1.  Oh, and I gotta tell ya, a long lens is a must-have for this area.  Unlike Brazos Bend State Park, there are not many places to comfortably get up close and personal to the birdlife, and there is slim-to-no parking alongside the one-lane gravel road past the refuge center.   My 70-200mm was ok, but what I really needed was a lens 400mm or more.  But….one makes do with what one has.

Next to the refuge center is a boardwalk across Big Slough (pronounced “slew”), leading to  a plowed path called Big Slough Trail.  I didn’t go very far down the path because:

1)  The mosquitoes were horrible (they must have been as large as egrets!) and I forgot to wear bug repellent (I was in too much of a hurry to leave the apartment and that is one of the things I forgot, although I did remember to apply sunscreen and grab a hat).

2) As  far as I can tell from my walk and the map, this trail doesn’t  lead down to the water’s edge, which is where you really want to be to get those bird shots.

So I did some landscape and flower photography along the boardwalk before heading out along the gravel-road auto tour.

Note:  the Texas wildflower book I own is total crap and didn’t list half of the flowers I photographed.  I ran some searches online and couldn’t come up with much either, so many of these flowers won’t have captions to them.  If you think you know what the un-captioned flowers are, do let me know.

Sea Oxeye

6983_Sea Oxeye

Tropical Sage

6992_Tropical Sage

Unknown seed pods.

6996_Seed Pods

Unknown yellow flower.  There were a number of “look-alikes” in my useless wildflower book, but none of them really fit this image.  So I don’t know what these flowers are called.

7067_Unknown Yellow Flower

Unknown little white flowers.

7099_Unknown White Flower

Unknown red flowers.

7115_Texas Flowers

7122_Unknown Red Flower

Basketflower (at least my wildflower book has something).

7151_Basketflower ORIG

7182_Basketflower Hiding

7204-2_Basketflower

Unknown white flowers.

7165_Unknown White Flower

Unknown little purple flower.

7191_Unknown Purple Flower

Big Slough views from the boardwalk.

7632-2_Big Slough View3

7635_Big Slough View2

7638_Big Slough View REV

Big Slew inhabitant

7000-2_Dragonfly CROP

7034-2_Dragonfly On Branch

7107_Dragonfly and Blue Ripples

Nope, I didn’t see any American alligators.  It was hot already and I’m pretty sure they wanted to stay in the water to remain cool, rather than sun themselves in the growing heat.

After my visit to the refuge center boardwalk area, I climbed back into the car (followed by hoards of mosquitoes) and started along the gravel road auto tour.  It’s basically one-way, although they don’t have arrows – instead they have signs with numbered stops (which means there is probably a tour guide within the center  that I should have gone in get).  It’s practically impossible for one car to pull over to allow a car from the opposite way to pass you….as I can attest….

7220_Path To My Car

7662_The Trail

Texas coastal marshland and wetlands as far as the eye can see.

7654_TX Coastal Marshland

7667_Reflections

7675_TX Wetland

Gull-billed tern taking flight.

7358_Gull Billed Tern in flight

Ibis in the water.

7419_Ibis In The Water

Red-wing blackbird.  You can’t  see its red markings in these photos but I did when it spread its wings out.

7421_Red WingBlackbird ORIG

7421-2_Red Wing Blackbird

Ahhhh…..Progress (??)

7352-2_Progress

If any of you are interested, I just published to my Blurb Bookstore a 150-page journal titled Texas Coastal Images.  Half of the journal is filled with totally awesome photos taken in such places as Brazos Bend State Park, Port Aransas, Padre Island, and the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge and the other half is nothing but blank lined pages for writing/artwork.  It would make a great gift for yourself or someone who is a fan of coastal Texas landscapes, flowers, and wildlife (mainly birdlife).  Click on the book link on the left side of this blog and it will take you directly to that particular book in my bookstore.  You can preview the pages of this journal and see for yourself the Masterpiece that I have created.

Hey, it’s all about marketing! Winking smile

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Filed under birds, flowers, nature, Photography, Texas

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