Trip Schedule, Spring 2023

Dickcissel – Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge, AL

19. Wheeler NWR-Limestone Bay/Arrowhead Landing/White Springs Dike (NABT #20, 23) – 4 March, 2023 (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;

20. Monte Sano State Park (NABT #29) – 8 April, 2023 (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;

21. Wheeler NWR – Blackwell Swamp (NABT #26) – 15 April, 2023 (SATURDAY) 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;

EVENT OF INTEREST: Alabama Ornithological Society Spring Meeting, Dauphin Island, AL – 21-23 April, 2023

22. Marbut Bend Trail – 22 April, 2023 (SATURDAY) 7:00 am

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;

23. Wheeler NWR Spring Migration Count (NABT) – 29 April, 2023 (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;

24. Monte Sano State Park (NABT #29) – 30 April, 2023 (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;

25. Guntersville Area – 6 May 2023 (SATURDAY) 7:00 am

We’ll visit several places we’ve birded before, as time permits, starting on the south side of Guntersville Dam (an excellent migration birding spot), then Guntersville City waterfront, before finishing at Guntersville SP. 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’ll meet at the south side of Guntersville Dam. To get there from Huntsville, take Hwy 431 to Guntersville, turning right at the Chamber of Commerce just over the bridge, then go west on the Lake Loop road and turn right on Hwy 69, crossing the causeway. Follow the road several miles and turn right on Union Grove Rd (will be a dam sign there); after a few miles you’ll see another sign to the dam, turn right and follow down to the parking lot (34.4250, -86.3930). -Linda Reynolds/Matt Morrow/Ken Ward, co-Leaders (256-298-1810;

26. Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station (WTARS, NABT #27) -13 May, 2023 (SATURDAY) 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;

Fall Trips

Winter Trips