West Alabama | Tuscaloosa | Best Seasons: Fall | Spring
Lake Nicol is an attractive, easily accessible, well-maintained, and popular wooded park on a substantial lake. The entrance road features several acres of open, mature pine woods. Pine Warblers and Brown-headed Nuthatches are permanent residents here, as are Red-headed Woodpeckers and Eastern Bluebirds. In winter, this the best place to see Golden-crowned Kinglets. The woods near the lake are made up of largely mature pines near the water, while hardwoods border the dirt roads through the park. You’ll find a good mixture of songbirds in the trees, and the water attracts waders and swallows. All the local birds of prey are represented, including visits from Bald Eagles and Osprey. A few waterfowl use the lake in winter, and shorebirds are occasionally seen on the lake banks and mudflats when the water levels in the lake drop.
It is situated minutes from a large new shopping center, and the many homes in the vicinity lend it the air of a “neighborhood” park. The proximity to ample services and improved roads makes it a magnet for local students and others seeking entertainment in the outdoors. Picnicking, fishing, boating and general parties and gatherings are popular pastimes at the lake. It would be advisable to visit early in the morning before crowds gather or on weekdays, as the noise and human presence might dampen bird activity.
Lake Nicol is in close proximity to Lake Harris on the map, but the two lakes are actually separated by a 20 minute drive. The two lakes complement each other and the pair of sites could be easily birded together in a half-day. Add in a visit to the UA Arboretum for a completely different eco-system and additional birds any time during the year.
GPS: 33.310936 -87.478904
4409 Nicol Park Rd
Tuscaloosa, AL 35406
From the intersection of McFarland Boulevard east and University Boulevard in Tuscaloosa (fuel, food, lodging available nearby), proceed north on McFarland Boulevard for 1.6 miles. Exit onto Rice Mine Road, and follow Rice Mine Road northeast for 2.6 miles. Turn right on New Watermelon Road (CR 87) and follow for 4.6 miles. Turn right onto Watermelon Road (CR 47) and continue for .7 mile, turning right on Nicol Park Road, which dead-ends at the park in 1.2 miles.
Amenities Available: Boat Launch, Picnic Tables
Lake Harris sits at the end of a long, winding dirt road. The early second-growth habitat along Lake Harris Road is far more productive for birds than is the lake itself. Expect to see bluebirds, Bobwhites, turkeys, towhees, goldfinches, Chats, Prair …
Lake Lurleen State Park
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 …
Rocky Branch Park
There are several waterfront parks in the vicinity of Tuscaloosa. Rocky Branch is the northernmost in a cluster of parks on Holt Lake. Comprised of steep forested slopes leading to the deep waters, it is best birded for songbirds in spring and fall m …
University of Alabama Arboretum
The single best location in Tuscaloosa for songbirds, the arboretum is a “must-see” for birders. Best in spring and fall migration, it is also a valuable resource for wintering birds. Easily accessed and compact enough to cover in less than half a da …