Prairie Creek Campground is an Army Corps facility that sits along the Alabama River in northern Lowndes County. The entrance road features grassy meadows, while most of the accessible areas of the campground are forested in mature hardwoods hung with Spanish moss. There are several good vantage points for the river along the paved park road, and there are short trails to walk through the woods. Birds here range from warblers, vireos, tanagers, orioles, woodpeckers, and thrushes in the woods to waders along the river’s edge. You’ll also find meadowlarks, bluebirds, kingbirds, and shrikes along the entrance road. A couple of hours should be sufficient to bird the park.
The Henry Dam on the Alabama River in northern Lowndes County is a “must-see” stop for birders in the area, as it provides extensive grasslands, rocky shoals below the dam’s spillway, and a deep-water impoundment above the dam – habitats difficult to find elsewhere in the area. Loggerhead Shrikes are permanent residents, and the fields are exceptionally good for spotting sparrows – expect to see Vesper, Song, and Savannah in winter; Swamp Sparrows nearer the river. Northern Harriers and Kestrels hunt the fields from fall through spring, and look for the occasional Short-eared Owl in winter. Gulls are seen near the dam in the colder months, waders are seen below the dam throughout the year and the scattered shade trees harbor orioles and flycatchers in season. An hour or two at the site should be sufficient to build a good list of birds.
Sherling Lake Park is only 3 miles west of Greenville, the largest town in Butler County. It is just 5 minutes from I-65 and can be reached by state highways from the interstate. It exists primarily for its 41 campsites, two fishing lakes, and tent camping opportunities. Because it is well-wooded with relatively quiet human activity, and because there is a large amount of water on the property, the park attracts a variety of birds. Expect to find numerous woodland songbirds in all seasons, with waders present near the lakes, and some waterfowl in winter. A short half day – two hours or so – should be enough for good birding.
Idle Hour Park sits moments from US-80 in Phenix City. It is a sprawling urban park, the outstanding feature of which is Moon Lake. The path around the lake is broad, flat, and handicap-accessible. The surrounding woods are pleasant, and the trails through the Natural Area and the other walking trails on the eastern side of the park are more narrow and undulating. The lake attracts waterfowl in winter, and a few waders may be found on the lake’s periphery most of the time. Woodland species abound along the 1-mile Nature Trail loop. To walk the Natural Area and walking trails in their entirety requires a couple hours.
Demopolis’ River Walk is an open, paved, level, handicap-accessible stroll along the river in downtown Demopolis. The pathway is immediately adjacent to the river bank, and there are scattered patches of planted shrubs and small hardwood trees along its course. Expect to see swallows from spring through late summer, waders year-round — though more in late summer and fall, and some gulls and small numbers of waterfowl in winter. The River Walk can be adequately birded in 60 to 90 minutes. Consider the River Walk as a late morning-early afternoon stop on a birding loop that covers the Demopolis area.
Gunter Hill Park and Campground lies just 15 minutes and a world away from downtown Montgomery. Paved roads lead through mature woods of pine and moss-draped hardwoods to the banks Catoma Creek, a backwater of the Alabama River. There are two loops here, the Antioch and Catoma loops–the Catoma Loop is far more extensive, encompassing some second-growth, trails, hardwood bottomlands, park-like campgrounds with open understory, bridges over a creek, and bluffs overlooking the Alabama. Expect to find a great variety of birds, including Louisiana Waterthrushes, Acadian Flycatchers, Northern Parulas, Redstarts, vast numbers of Indigo Buntings, Summer Tanagers, Orchard Orioles, and Great Crested Flycatchers.
The Phenix City Riverwalk in Russell County snakes along the banks of the Chattahoochee River for almost 1.25 miles as it traces the Alabama-Georgia state line. Follow the elevated boardwalks and the paved walkways and seize the opportunities to trek down to the river’s edge or to scramble over a boulder field. The woods here – largely mature hardwoods with varying amounts of understory — are rife with riparian-forest songbirds. Look for waders and swallows over the river, with some gulls and the odd tern in winter. As this site requires no less than a 2 1/2 – mile walk, expect to spend a short half-day to cover most if not all of the trail. If pressed for time, spend 1-1 ½ hours birding the southern portion from the entrance near the Ampitheatre to the 13th St bridge and back.
OFF THE PORCH with Judy and Don Self Winter kinda sneaks-up on you in west central Alabama. Sometime in the last couple of months the riot of colors that was fall has been replaced with the subtler browns and grays of winter. Even the green of the pine …
Off The Porch with Judy and Don Self The many blocks of the David K. Nelson (formerly Demopolis) Wildlife Management Area offer some exceptional birding opportunities. One of our favorites is Backbone Creek in southernmost Greene County. It’s located …
Tuskegee National Forest is the nation’s smallest in the national forest system. At 11,252 acres, it is small enough to survey in a day, yet large enough to contain a remarkable variety of habitats. Much of the land is in various stages of early to late second-growth forest, cut through with good roads and extensive trails. Look for scrub and grassland birds in the cutovers, riparian birds in the flood plains, and woodland species along the trails.
Lagoon Park is a large urban park, with multiple softball fields, a golf course, a wooded fitness trail, and more to our point, several large lagoons ringed by walking trails. The lagoon portion of the park features extensive shallow wetlands that can be spectacular for wading birds, swallows, small rafts of ducks in winter, and for songbirds in the surrounding woods. Bird the trees along the entrance road for migrants in spring and fall. Look for wetland songbirds in the bottomland forest to the west and south of the parking at the end of the road, and walk the trails around the lagoons to see waders, waterfowl, and possible shorebirds. Allow at least two hours for your visit here.