I had the opportunity spend a day at beautiful Weiss Lake, near Centre and Leesburg in NE Alabama. What a lovely place — with an abundance of good songbird habitat on the way up, and the extensive lake gave me the opportunity to commune with a reasonably good number of winter visitants still present at this, the tail end of the state’s second-warmest winter on record.
I chanced to see an American white pelican — the first time I’ve seen that species on this lake — as it flew by, no more than 20 yards away. Which reminded me…those are huge birds!
But I found myself spending time gull-watching. In fact, I gull-watched for the longest time imaginable. This is only significant because I don’t really care much for gulls. Yes, it’s true; for the most part I just don’t find gulls to be that interesting. There are exceptions, chief among them — Bonaparte’s gull. These little guys are a bit larger than a pigeon, and fly quickly and directly, often dipping into the water for food. They are are the most tern-like of gulls, and I could watch them for hours. So I did. A hundred or more zipped and sailed back and forth in front of me, occasionally dropping to the lake’s surface to feed.
Beautiful little things, I thought. The small dark bill contrasting with the white head, the dark eye and black ear patch, pinkish legs and feet, the gray mantle, and especially the showy white triangle on the leading edge of the wing and the thin black stripe on the trailing edge.
Anyway, the point is that it’s not too late to visit the larger bodies of water in North Alabama to see wintering birds. To get to Weiss Lake, Take exit I-59 to exit 205 (Collinsville) and follow east on AL 68. You’ll pass through Leesburg, then Centre, and after leaving Centre, you’ll cross the main body of the lake. There is a paved parking lot/boat launch area on the left a bit more than halfway across the lake.