Trip Schedule, Spring 2022

Dickcissel – Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge, AL

21. Wheeler NWR-Limestone Bay/Arrowhead Landing/White Springs Dike (NABT #20, 23) – 5 March, 2022 (SATURDAY) 8:00 am (NOTE LATER MEETING TIME)

Our final trip to White Springs Dike for the season is in its third year, at a time when we are usually taking a break, as waterfowl start moving out of the area, and prior to spring migration. Duck numbers are still usually good, but with less variety, with migrating Blue-winged Teal moving through, good numbers of Green-winged Teal and Shovelers around, etc. A few years ago we got a big surprise, with the presence of a beautiful male Cinnamon Teal in the marshes near the Decatur end of the dike.Take the Mooresville exit off I-565, go south on Mooresville Road and meet at the parking area near where it intersects with old Highway 20 (34.627442 -86.880186). – Ken Ward, Leader (256-679-8332; kenphin1990@gmail.com)

22. Monte Sano State Park (NABT #29) – 2 April, 2022 (SATURDAY) 7:00 am

On this trip, we hope to catch some early spring migrants, especially Louisiana Waterthrush. To get to our meeting spot, take Monte Sano Boulevard off Governors Drive at the top of the mountain and follow the signs to the park; once there, go in the direction of headquarters and park at the Camp Store, in the gravel if possible (34.745325-86.511672). – John Ehinger, Leader (256-536-2716; johnehinger@yahoo.com)

23. Hays Nature Preserve/Goldsmith Sanctuary (NABT #30) – 9 April, 2022 (SATURDAY) 7:00 am

NABS has birded both areas regularly, especially Hays; there should be a few migrants present, especially neotropical songbirds. Meet at Hays which, from Huntsville, is about a mile past the Publix shopping center near Hampton Cove on Hwy 431, on the left just past the Taylor Lane light (there is a sign). Follow the road to the parking area on the right (34.644106 -86.466389). – Ken Ward, Leader (256-679-8332; kenphin1990@gmail.com)

24. Wheeler NWR – Blackwell Swamp/Penny Bottoms/Buckeye (NABT #26) – 10 April, 2022 (SUNDAY) 7:00 am

This area has been getting more attention lately as a prime birding spot. There is flooded woodland and marsh habitat here, which can be explored by car, on foot or by canoe. A variety of wetland species may be present, including Great Blue Heron, Great Egret and Green Heron, and perhaps some other less common species, such as Snowy Egret or Little Blue Heron. Common Gallinule and Anhinga are rarely found here, and you might get a glimpse at an alligator 😊. There should be migrants around by this time, including such returning breeders as Prothonotary Warbler and Common Yellowthroat. This is also good woodpecker habitat, especially for Pileated and Red-headed. To get to our meeting place, take County Line Rd south off I-565, head south 5.5 miles and turn left on Jolly B Rd; there is a white 2-story house, with a rail fence, on the left just before the turn. From here it’s about a mile to a gravel parking area on the right. We’ll explore several areas, including a tree-lined refuge road (likely will walk it) near the parking area (good for songbirds), other wooded spots and several viewing areas on both west and east sides of the swamp (time permitting). – Tom Ress, Leader(256-233-3057; resscat@aol.com).

EVENT OF INTEREST: Alabama Ornithological Society Spring Meeting, Dauphin Island – 15-17 April, 2022

25. Marbut Bend Trail – 23 April, 2022 (SATURDAY) 7:00 am

NABS made its first trip to Marbut Bend last year and was very impressed. Developed by TVA and Limestone County and opened in 2014, this area includes a 1.2-mile trail through wetlands, riparian habitat and open fields, along the Elk River. The gravel trail includes an elevated boardwalk across a beaver pond and two platforms overlooking the river and one of its embayments; the walk is easy and the scenery is beautiful. We’ll meet at the trailhead northwest of Athens. From Huntsville, take U.S. 72 west to Athens and take the exit loop to U.S. 31 north. From there, go 2.4 miles and turn left on Alabama 99. Follow the signs along Alabama 99 for 12.4 miles to the trailhead entrance road on the left (34.911200 -87.104722) – Dwight Cooley, Leader (256-565-6239; sabrewing@earthlink.net)

26. Guntersville Area – 24 April, 2022 (SUNDAY) 7:00 am

We’ll visit several places we’ve birded before, as time permits, including the Guntersville City waterfront, south side of Guntersville Dam and Guntersville State Park. We should see a wide variety of warblers and other migrants, as well as Red-headed Woodpeckers at the dam, eagles and ospreys over the river, etc. We may also visit a couple of other places, including the TVA boat launch on Hwy 79 (good for warblers) and a rural area near Guntersville where several Loggerhead Shrikes reside and nest. Meet in Guntersville at the Chamber of Commerce parking lot on the south end of the Hwy 431 bridge. – Linda Reynolds/Matt Morrow, co-Leaders (256-298-1810; rreynolds2970@charter.net)

27. Wheeler NWR Spring Migration Count (NABT) – 30 April, 2022(SATURDAY) 5:00-6:00 am (meeting time varies by count group)

The format for this count is similar to Christmas Counts – identify and count all birds seen or heard from dawn to late afternoon/dusk; different groups bird different parts of the refuge and nearby areas. Birders of all skill levels are welcome and needed, as we are usually short-handed for migration counts. Arrangements can also be made to spend part of the day counting for those who can’t commit to the whole day (morning or afternoon). We’ll regroup at the Wheeler NWR Interpretive Nature (Visitor) Center (34.547406 -86.951136) around 6:00 pm for compilation (see Wheeler NWR Christmas Count trip #12 for directions). Since we won’t have a single gathering spot for folks to meet and join a group, new participants should contact Dwight Cooley by 20 April. – Dwight Cooley, Leader/Compiler (256-565-6239; sabrewing@earthlink.net)

24. Monte Sano State Park (NABT #29) – 1 May, 2022 (SUNDAY) 7:00 am

Join us near migration peak as we bird one of the best spots in the state for spring migration. The Park can be filled with birds this time of year, including an impressive variety of beautiful warblers in breeding plumage, orioles, grosbeaks, both species of tanagers, 4-5 species of vireos, all thrush species we can see in this area, etc. The birds are often relatively easy to see too; several hotspots near our meeting spot are easy to find, including the overlooks, camp store, Japanese Garden, planetarium, cyclists’ and hikers’ parking lots, etc., not to mention numerous accessible trails. You are also encouraged to visit the park at other times during late April-early May, especially after a weather front has passed through, which will often concentrate the migrants. There are almost always a few birders around the hotspots during this period (the earlier in the morning the better). To get to our meeting spot, take Monte Sano Boulevard off Governors Drive at the top of the mountain and follow the signs to the park; once there, go in the direction of headquarters and park at the Camp Store, in the gravel if possible. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE BIRDING IS SOMETIMES BETTER EARLIER; FEEL FREE TO COME UP BETWEEN 6:00 AND 6:30 IF YOU LIKE, AS SOME OF US WILL PROBABLY ALREADY BE AT THE OVERLOOK (34.745325 -86.511672). – Harry Dean, Leader (256-541-0842; hdean@hiwaay.net)

29. William B. Bankhead National Forest (NABT #14) – 7 May, 2022 (SATURDAY) 7:00 am

Bankhead National Forest (BNF) in northwestern Alabama is 180,000 acres of mesic hardwood, mixed pine-hardwood, shortleaf pine, oak-hickory, hemlock-white pine and mountain longleaf pine forest, with many limestone bluffs, swift flowing streams and waterfalls; the 26,000-acre Sipsey Wilderness is also found here. Migration birding this time of year is usually quite productive in BNF and we’ve had some great trips there the past few years. We’ll meet at Site 14 of the North Alabama Birding Trail (Central Firetower). This trip will mostly be a driving tour along an unpaved road where we’ll likely encounter few or no people (see below). From Huntsville, take I-565/Hwy 20 to Decatur, then AL Hwy 24 west toward Moulton. From the intersection of Hwy 24 and AL Hwy 33 near Moulton, head south on Hwy 33 for 11.4 miles into BNF. The birding trail orientation kiosk is located near the firetower on the left side of the road at the USForest Service Black Warrior Workstation. From there, we will go south a short distance and spend most of our time birding by car caravan and walking along the Northwest Road (turn right at the Black Warrior WMA sign). This is a beautiful setting with a wide range of forest habitat types varying in age, composition, and management (bordering the Sipsey Wilderness). Other areas we may visit include Brushy Lake Recreational Area (requires $3.00 fee per car) and Sipsey River Picnic grounds. Visit the BNF website for more information on birding opportunities there. From west Huntsville/Madison to the meeting place is about an hour-long drive, via Decatur (34.3452, -87.3393). – Ken Ward, Leader (256-679-8332; kenphin1990@gmail.com )

30. Graham Farm and Nature Center (NABT)/Paint Rock River Valley – 8 May, 2022 (SUNDAY) 7:00 am

Come with us for a visit to beautiful Jackson County, where we’ll bird in the Paint Rock River Valley, in particular the Graham Farm and Nature Center (GFNC). This is a property that was acquired by Auburn University and is managed by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System as a working farm/nature preserve and outdoor classroom. It’s a beautiful place, roughly 500 acres of upland hardwood and bottomland forest, pastures and hayfields; the confluence of Larkin and Estill Forks forms the Paint Rock River on this property. GFNC has developed an extensive trail system and is now on the North Alabama Birding Trail. The birding should be great, perhaps a little past migration peak, but with some late transients still around and, of course, all of our breeding residents are here and doing their thing. We’ll first explore the farm proper, taking a walk to the Paint Rock River, then check out some of the trail system. From GFNC we’ll continue down CR 27, which loops back into Hwy 65 a few miles further north; it’s a beautiful place to bird, with varied habitat along Larkin Fork, some open fields, etc. Cerulean warblers have been seen here and are documented breeders in the area. We’ll meet at GFNC: if coming from Huntsville or other points west, take Hwy 72 east past Gurley to Hwy 65, turn leftand go roughly 15 miles, until you reach the intersection of 65 and CR 27 (just before the bridge, a roughly 20 minute drive from the turn onto Hwy 65). Turn left here and go a short distance to the parking area, on the right after the farmhouse. – Ken Ward/Dwight Cooley, Co-Leaders (256-679-8332; kenphin1990@gmail.com)

31. Leighton Area, Town Creek (NABT #4, 5) – 14 May, 2022 (SATURDAY) 7:00 am

We will explore the Leighton area and Town Creek, targeting shorebird migrants, whose movement through our area should be strong at this time of year. Our success will depend largely on water levels and weather. We’ll meet at the Ingalls Boat Harbor Pavilion in Decatur: from the direction of Huntsville, cross the river bridge and take the first right onto Alt 72/20 (Wilson St.). Go about a mile and turn right on Neher St., follow to pavilion parking lot. – Harry Dean, Leader (256-541-0842; hdean@hiwaay.net)

32. Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station (WTARS, NABT #27) -15 May, 2022(SUNDAY) 7:00 am

WTARS is Alabama A&M University’s research farm; it is a 970-acre property with lots of open grassland and pasture areas, plus small patches of forest and a sizable pond edged with black willow. It is one of the best places in the state to observe open country birds and always makes for a great trip (our most popular). Species we’ll likely see or have a good chance of encountering include Grasshopper Sparrow, Dickcissel, Lark Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, Eastern Kingbird, several swallow species, Bobolink, Horned Lark, Loggerhead Shrike, Northern Bobwhite, possibly Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (not as likely these days), perhaps some shorebirds, Green Heron, etc. From Huntsville, take Hwy 431 north and just past Meridianville Middle School, turn right on Walker Lane (light), then take the first right onto the farm; park at the first building on the right (34.900839 -86.560256). – Ken Ward, Leader (256-679-8332; kenphin1990@gmail.com)

Fall Trips

Winter Trips