Black Belt | Butler | Best Seasons: Fall | Spring | Winter
Sherling Lake Park is a camping and fishing-oriented park located less than 5 minutes from I-65, just 3 miles west of Greenville in Butler County. The park features rolling hills well-stocked with mature, open pines along the ridges and all-age mixed pine-oak woods in the valleys and bottoms. The understory varies, but in spots there are thickets of Wax myrtle and smaller shrubs. There are two lakes – designated upper and lower – connected by a walking trail.
Begin with the emergent second-growth acreage that lies to the north (across AL-263) from the park entrance. You will find Prairie Warblers, Indigo Buntings, Blue Grosbeaks, Northern Bobwhites, and Common Yellowthroats from spring through fall. In colder months, look for Gray Catbirds, American Goldfinches, Palm and Orange-crowned warblers. Year-round you can spot Field Sparrows, Eastern Towhees, and Eastern Bluebirds.
Just past the entrance and the small headquarters building, the park road forks. The left fork proceeds to the campground area, and the right fork leads to the lake(s) and trail.
This is one of the rare campgrounds to allow non-campers passage into the camping areas. Check for birds around campsites; for instance, look for hummingbird feeders (and the attendant hummingbirds) in late summer and fall, and for seed feeders that may attract uncommon visitors in the winter.
The right fork passes through picnic grounds by a shelter and a restroom building. The habitat here consists of gently rolling hills; the ridges are forested in mature pines and intermixed oaks with an open understory. The lowlands are stocked with hardwoods and shrubs. This portion of the park is one of the better spots for many miles to find spring and fall migrants. This is a good area for woodpeckers, including breeding pairs of flickers and Pileated Woodpeckers. Red-headed Woodpeckers are residents. They’re most numerous near the water at the end of the road, as well as in the campground area. Brown-headed Nuthatches and Pine Warblers are numerous in the pines. Look for Golden-crowned Kinglets from October through early April.
Proceed to the end of the road to the lakes. You’ll notice that American Redstarts are fairly common here. Look for Orchard Orioles, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and Yellow-throated Vireos in the trees near the water. Martins and swallows course through the park and over the lakes in the warmer months. Eastern Bluebirds are most common in the open areas, though they are present in good numbers throughout the park. Wading birds are fairly common around the lakes, and some waterfowl may be present in winter. Across the lake lies a golf course. Scope the trees and skies here to see birds of prey in all seasons.
The Phillip Herring Walking Trail runs along the lakeshore. You can easily pick up the trail from the parking area for the lake. It is a rather wide dirt trail that makes for mild to moderate hiking in all seasons. It may be used as a pathway to access both the upper and lower lakes and to provide vantage to the golf course at the lake’s narrower points. Look for Wild Turkeys at the edges of the golf course and along the banks of the lakes, most often in early mornings and late afternoons.
Sherling Lake Park is the best woodland migrant site available for miles and is quick and easy to get to by major roads. It is free to enter, open every day, safe, and easy to access and navigate. There is also staff on-site. If you are in the Greenville area or passing along I-65 in need of a quick bird fix, two or three hours at the park is just what the doctor ordered.
GPS: N 31.896729 W -86.67264
Sherling Lake Park
4397 Braggs Rd
Greenville, AL 36037
There are multiple opportunities to bird from your car here, particularly in the camping area. The roads are quiet and many people walk along the road, watching for cars if any approach. The trail is relatively wide and somewhat hard packed, but would be challenging or impossible for someone in a traditional wheelchair. There are some shorter paved trails, as well as accessible restrooms.
From I-65 in Butler County, take exit 130 (Greenville — gas, food, lodging available) and take AL-185 west for 2.3 miles. Bear right at the fork and continue on AL-185 (Ft Dale Road). Bear left onto AL-263/ Braggs Road and follow for 1.8 miles. The entrance to Sherling Lake Park is on the left.
Amenities Available: Boat Launch, Camping (tent/RV), Gravel or Dirt Trails, Paved Trails, Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Wheelchair Accessible