Henderson Camp Road leads to the entrance to the northwestern section of Forever Wild’s grand Bay Savanna. The highlight of this stop is in spring during migration. After making the turn off AL 188, proceed south. In 2.5 miles or so, begin scanning the cattle pastures and fallow fields on both sides of the road. In April, look for Swallow-tailed Kite foraging over freshly cut fields and flocks of Whimbrel scattered in the pastures. Whimbrel flock sizes occasionally grow into the hundreds, making this one of the premier places in coastal Alabama to observe this species during migration. Throughout the winter months American Kestrel, Loggerhead Shrike, Field Sparrow and Eastern Meadowlark are regularly encountered. In spring, Painted Bunting is occasional along fence rows.
Continue south to the gravel parking lot on the left where the pavement ends [3.5] to access the northwestern section of the Grand Bay Savanna Forever Wild Tracts. Four contiguous parcels together make up more than 5,300 acres managed as a nature preserve by the ADCNR State Lands Division and a community hunting area by the ADCNR Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. During hunting season, check the kiosk at the parking lot for dates and other relevant information.
The tracts host a variety of marsh, bog and lowland forest habitats representative of the northern Gulf Coast. From the parking lot, take a hiking trail east along the property boundary (knee boots are recommended for the low-lying areas). Red-headed Woodpecker, White-eyed Vireo and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher are common.
The road continues south to a gate, passing through the pine savanna, where Brown-headed Nuthatch are regular year-round. Birding opportunities increase along this stretch during migration.
GPS: N30.42149 W-88.32637
If following directions provided in the Coastal Birding Trail booklet, Coden Belt Road loops back to AL 188 at the Coden Bayou Bridge. Turn left (west) and continue west on AL 188 through Bayou La Batre. Continue following AL 188 by turning left (west) at the McDonald’s [3.4]. Proceed 5.9 miles to Henderson Camp Road and turn left (south).