Outdoor Lovers Flock to Matagorda Bay Nature Preserve

Texas is well known as a birding mecca and it is difficult (impossible?) to pick one best destination in a state so large and diverse. But Matagorda Bay Nature Preserve is certainly one of the top, and on our list of places to visit!!

Press Release From Great Ideas PR Inc.:

Birders, anglers, campers and nature-loving families are flocking to the 1,600-acre Matagorda Bay Nature Preserve in southeast Texas to enjoy a wealth of wildlife and outdoor adventures in a pristine, off-the-beaten track bit of ocean and fresh water heaven. For the past 15 years, the Audubon Society has ranked this area as one of the top bird watching sites in the nation.

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) acquired the park two years ago to provide recreation and economic benefits for the area. A core of visitor conveniences have been created while preserving the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

“Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy kayaking and canoeing along the park’s 2.5- mile course plus trail walking to get up-close-and-personal views of birds and wildlife,” says Susan Baxter-Harwell, Park district supervisor for LCRA. “Thousands of students and guests visit our science center to learn about nature at our doorstep. Guests enjoy guided tours focusing on birding and beachcombing and hands-on exhibits about birds and wildlife that call these wetlands home and the ecosystems that nurture them,” says Betsy Terrel, natural science education programs supervisor at the nature park.

A schedule of seminars, tours and events is available by e-mailing outdoorprograms@lcra.org
or calling 1-800-776-5272, ext. 3810.

During March, April and May, the preserve hosts birds on their spring migrations and welcomes them back on their fall travels in September, October and November. Migrating butterflies stop by from late September through November. January and February highlights include the exciting raptor breeding displays of flying prowess.

Matagorda Island-Mad Island Marsh has had one of the, if not the, highest species totals in the United States since the bird count began here 15 years ago, according to Geoff LeBaron, Christmas Bird Count director for Audubon Science. More than 250 varieties of bird have been counted in a single day. The preserve is a protected estuary located on the central flyway – one of four principal North American migratory bird routes and part of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. More than 300 species of birds call Matagorda Bay home either full-time on during their migratory travels.

“The intracoastal waterway construction built over 100 years ago is another factor attracting birds to Matagorda Bay,” says James Arnold, birding enthusiast and owner of Day on the Bay tours. “The waterway skirts Matagorda Bay for a distance of 35 miles. Average rainfall, in excess of 40 inches, provides a fresh water supply in a salt-water environment. This is the last fresh water for migratory birds prior to crossing the Gulf of Mexico, and the first fresh water supply when returning.”

With 22 miles of Gulf of Mexico beach to explore, and miles of Colorado River frontage, there’s plenty of room to off-road. or hike, and tent camp. “The fishing is excellent at Matagorda Bay,” says Warren Meyers, president of Recreation Resource Management. “There are four, free public piers – three river and one ocean front to choose from, and all of them right on the beach and easily accessible.”

Amenity-seeking visitors enjoy the bird watching tower. “The beach-front birding tower is a fantastic place to observe the vast variety of birds that visit or live at the nature preserve,” says Meyers, There are miles of walking paths dotted with shaded critter watching stations as well as covered picnic shelters and a group pavilion.

A 70-site RV park managed by Recreation Resource Management is open year-around and is a short stroll to the beach. It features full-hookup concrete pads with electricity, water, and sewer; modern bathrooms with showers; a coin-operated laundry; and a convenience store. The main preserve and RV park are ADA accessible.

For details about the preserve or RV park, go to www.matagordabayrv.com or call 979-863-7120. To make $25 per night (seasonal and monthly discounts available) RV reservations, call the Texas Parks and Wildlife Reservation Center at 512-389-8900. There is a $5 fee for each reservation.

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