Lake Harris is located on Yellow Creek and was one of two reservoirs for drinking water for the city of Tuscaloosa. The dirt entrance road is three miles in length and passes through a considerable stretch of early second-growth scrub and some recently burned properties. Prairie Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chats, Eastern Kingbirds and Blue Grosbeaks are quite abundant from April through September. You will find Field Sparrows, Eastern Towhees, Eastern Bluebirds, American Goldfinches, and Gray Catbirds on a permanent or nearly permanent basis. The second-growth habitat predominates on the left (southeast) side of the road, while there is mixed-age pine-oak woods along the right (northwest) side. The taller, more mature woods have a broad range of songbirds from Wood Thrushes and Hooded Warblers to Red-eyed Vireos, Orchard Orioles, Summer Tanagers, Black-and-white Warblers and most of the state’s native woodpeckers. Red-tailed Hawks and Great Horned Owls hunt the open areas. The road’s edge should be an excellent location for Chuck-will’s-widow, and short-grass open areas adjacent to dense woods may be good for American Woodcocks from mid-winter through spring.
The lake itself is fed by Lake Nicol. When water levels are low and considerable shoreline is exposed there may be herons, egrets and ibises present, particularly in summer and fall; shorebirds may also be present, most typically in migration. Look for Purple Martins, and Barn, Rough-winged, and Cliff swallows over the water from spring through fall. You are likely to find Tree and Bank swallows present in migration. The red cedars, tall pines, and hardwoods that bound the lake have a smattering of breeding birds – Pine Warblers, Brown-headed and White-breasted nuthatches, a few Northern Parulas and Yellow-throated Warblers, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Eastern Kingbirds, and Great Crested Flycatchers. Ospreys and Bald Eagles both nest nearby and may put in appearances at the lake from time to time. In winter, a few waterfowl may be present on the lake. Look for Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Hooded Mergansers, and the like.
There is ample parking at the first location, but be sure to follow the fairly steep dirt road to the end. A pavilion provides a nice area for a picnic and a somewhat sheltered place to scan the lake.
GPS: 33.2710878 -87.4704474
Tuscaloosa, AL 35406
From the intersection of McFarland Boulevard and University Boulevard in Tuscaloosa (all services available nearby), proceed north on McFarland for 1.7 miles, exiting onto Rice Mine Road. Merge onto Rice Mine Road and follow east for 3 miles, turning right on New Watermelon Road (CR 87). In 3.5 miles turn right on Lake Nicol Road (CR 42) and remain on CR 42 for 2.7 miles. Turn right onto the dirt road – Lake Harris Road – which dead-ends at the lake in 3 miles.
Amenities Available: Boat Launch, Picnic Tables
A large, well-visited park with staff, Lake Lurleen features a huge deep-water lake, extensive parking areas, and picnic areas under massive pines. Look for migrants in the forested areas in spring and fall, hundreds of swallows – mostly Cliff – and …
Lake Nicol is an attractive, easily accessible, well-maintained, and popular wooded park on a substantial lake. It draws many local visitors, so the best birding is achieved on weekdays, early or late in the day, and days when traffic should be less …