Jennings Ferry Campground is situated on a peninsula separating the deep waters of the Black Warrior River to the north and a shallower lake formed by the impounded Clear Creek to the south. The campground’s acreage is thickly forested with mostly mature hardwoods. From the banks overlooking the river, scan the skies for swallows in the warm seasons and the river for deep water ducks in winter. Bald Eagles and Osprey occasionally perch in and hunt from the trees along the banks of the river.
The trees throughout the recreation area are productive for songbirds all year. Expect Eastern Bluebirds in all seasons, joined by White-throated and Song Sparrows in the cooler months. Cedar Waxwings roam with mixed-species feeding flocks featuring both kinglets, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and possibly Purple Finches and the occasional Red-breasted Nuthatch and Brown Creeper. Spring and fall bring waves of migrants, following the path of the river on their travels to and from their breeding grounds. Breeding birds include good numbers of woodpeckers and flycatchers. Red-eyed and Yellow-throated vireos and plentiful here, also.
There is a walking trail loop at the southwest end of the parking lot. The trail passes through mixed woods of various ages. You should find woodland songbirds-Indigo Buntings, American Goldfinches, Hooded and Kentucky Warblers, White-eyed Vireos, and Eastern Towhees in the under and mid-story. From October through April, Winter Wrens may be found in roots and rocks near water.
To the south of the parking area and the restroom building, there is an impoundment of Clear Creek. The shallower water here has areas with considerable vegetation around the banks, and this tends to provide cover that attracts birds. Look for waders – Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets all year, with Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, and White Ibises especially from late spring until first frost. You’ll find Green Herons throughout the warmer months and rarely in winter, a few night herons, and bitterns (American in migration, and Least possibly breeding in the cattails and rushes in some years) here. Black Terns pass through in migration; they are most impressive in late summer. Look for a few shorebirds in the shallows and around the lake’s banks in migration. The trees surrounding the lake are replete with Prothonotary Warblers and Northern Parulas from early April through early fall, and there are generally Yellow-throated Warblers, Acadian Flycatchers, a few American Redstarts, and many Orchard Orioles during this same period. Northern Waterthushes are common in migration here, and Louisiana Waterthrushes breed along the creek, well to the left of the small dock and boat ramp. Red-shouldered and Cooper’s Hawks and Barred Owls are common raptors here.
This campground/recreation area is staffed. The gate house at the entrance offers maps of this and other recreational sites along the Black Warrior, and provides a welcome dose of friendly hospitality and familiarity with the surrounding area.
While in the area, the Eutaw Municipal Airport, just off AL 14 less than 5 minutes west of Jennings Ferry, provides a distinct contrast in habitat. This little-used airfield consists of open, short-grass fields with a brushy fencerow. The road in is bordered on the east (left) by a lovely stand of open pines. The fields are good for Eastern Meadowlarks and shorebirds and pipits in wet periods and migration, Bobolinks in late spring and fall, Dickcissels and the occasional Grasshopper Sparrow in the breeding season, Savannah and possibly a few Vesper sparrows in winter. The grassy areas are good for Harriers from September through early April, and may harbor Short-eared Owls in some years. Barn Owls should be regular here all year. Look for soaring kites in late spring and summer. The fencerow will have Indigo Buntings and Eastern Kingbirds from April through September, White-crowned and White-throated sparrows in the cooler months, and possibly a Loggerhead Shrike or two in all seasons.
GPS: 32.8072908 -87.8130789
Jennings Ferry Campground (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
1001 Jennings Ferry Rd.
Akron, AL 35441
From I-59/20 in Greene County, take exit 40 (Eutaw) and merge onto AL 14 E. Follow AL 14 E through Eutaw (fuel, limited food, and lodging available) for a total of 8.2 miles, turning right (south) at the signage for Jennings Ferry Campground. There is a country store here that offers sundries. Turn left and follow Jennings Ferry Road for 1.1 miles to the entrance of the recreation area.