Piedmont Plateau | Elmore | Best Seasons: Fall | Spring
Fort Toulouse-Jackson National Historic Park is situated where the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers meet to form the headwaters of the Alabama River. The park preserves relics of over 6,000 years of human history within its 165 acres of woodlands and fields bordering the two rivers. The rich riparian habitat makes this especially attractive to birds. After turning off US 231, check the fields for Eastern Meadowlarks, Northern Bobwhites, and Red-tailed Hawks – and Northern Harriers and American Kestrels in winter. The open swamp on the right of the entrance road has Anhingas and Prothonotary Warblers. Waders, such as Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons are possible throughout the year. To the left (south) of the entrance road and 100 yards farther west toward the park entrance is a heavily wooded stream. Stop here to listen and look for Acadian Flycatchers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, and Swainson’s Warblers.
After entering park, pass the re-created fort display and park on the left near the entrance to the Bartram Arboretum, named for the famed naturalist, William Bartram, whose travels led him through the area, discovering and cataloging the botanical life of the Southeast. An easy walk on improved paths and boardwalks meanders through the terraced arboretum. This is a mixed oak-pine forest, the upper portion of which is elegantly draped in Spanish moss. A highlight here are the beautiful Silverbells (Halesia tetraptera) trees found along the trail. Their diaphanous white blooms accent the path beautifully in April. A wide variety of songbirds can be observed and heard along the trail as it winds down to a bluff above the Alabama River. Among the most notable are the numerous Northern Parulas, White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos, and Blue Gray Gnatcatchers. Red-headed Woodpeckers are easy to spot throughout the year, and Yellow-throated Vireos call from the hardwood canopy. Wood Thrushes’ flutelike songs permeate the woods in spring and summer, and Hooded Warblers are present in very good numbers in the warm months. Look and listen for Barred Owls throughout the year. The upper portions of the park serve as an excellent migrant trap in spring and fall, and a good variety of winter songbirds are present in the colder months.
Walk to the north of the park road and you will find open woods and open fields toward the river. The more open, piney woods provide habitat for numerous Yellow-throated and Pine Warblers, along with many Brown-headed Nuthatches. Swallows, most notably Barn and Rough-winged, mixed with some Purple Martins, ply the open fields to the south, as well as the skies over the river. Chimney Swifts are common here, too, from spring through fall.
GPS: 32.5085368 -86.2510403
Fort Toulouse / Jackson Park
2521 W. Fort Toulouse Road
Wetumpka, Alabama 36093
Phone: (334) 567-3002
Fort Toulouse is located just off US Highway 231, north of Montgomery and minutes south of the town of Wetumpka in Montgomery County. The GPS coordinates are: 32.509N 86.251W. US 231 features numerous restaurants, motels, and service stations, and significant shopping and other conveniences may be found 10 minutes away in Montgomery, or in nearby Wetumpka.
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