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18th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count

OFF THE PORCH with Judy and Don Self  As we write, the 115th Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is about to get under way. Between the 14th of December and 5th of January, tens of thousands of volunteers will take to the field to count the birds in over 2000 count circles, each 15 miles […]

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Autumn Birding in the Black Belt

Off The Porch with Judy and Don Self Autumn Birding at Silver Creek Park, Clarke County and Claiborne Dam Site West Park, Monroe County, Alabama (Sites 8 and 9 respectively on the Piney Woods Birding Trail) These two Corps of Engineers parks are located on the west bank of the Alabama River just a few […]

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The Annual Hummer Invasion

by  Judy and Don Self No, not the 4-wheeled kind, the winged, 1/10th ounce, southbound kind. Fall migration of the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds is in full swing. It began back in late July, but peaks here at Almosta Farm in mid-September. But those of you who enjoy feeding them are already well aware of this. Just […]

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Aldridge Botanical Gardens

by Paul H. Franklin Aldridge Gardens is a 30-acre former private home, lake, gardens, and grounds, conveyed to the city of Hoover in 1997 and converted to use as a botanical garden. It features an abundance of Snowflake hydrangeas – a selected variation of the state’s official wildflower, the Oak-leaded hydrangea. Don’t rush through the […]

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Sanders Ferry Road

Starting as a semi-suburban two-lane road, Sanders Ferry Rd suddenly changes into open croplands on the south side and semi-open pinewoods on the north. There is excellent birding potential here, and you can reach more farm and field habitat and a sod farm by retracing Sanders Ferry, then turning right on Black Warrior Road. This loop can produce everything from Buff-breasted Sandpipers to Bachman’s Sparrows, with meadowlarks, Dickcissels, and Mississippi Kites thrown in for good measure.

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Cypress Lake/Foster Fields

Foster Loop Road is almost impossible to summarize briefly. The loop passes through an almost endless series of habitat types, and thus produces opportunities for an equally varied list of birds. Look for birds of old fields, agricultural lands, roadside scrub, dense pines, cypress swamps, and mixed all-age woodlands. High points: soaring Mississippi Kites, along with Wood Storks in the swamp in summer, Cliff Swallow colonies under I-20/59.

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Hale County Catfish Ponds

Hale County is the center of Alabama’s catfish farming industry. These shallow man-made ponds present excellent habitat for swallows; Barn, Cliff, Rough-winged, and Purple Martins breed here, while Tree and Bank swallows are migrants. This is a good area for finding waders, including Wood Storks in summer and fall. You will see Red-winged Blackbirds, Belted Kingfishers, and a variety of shorebirds here.

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Birding Old Cahawba Archaeological Park, Dallas County, Alabama

Old Cahawba Archaeological Park near Orville was chosen as the site for the Black Belt Birding Trail Advisory Group’s May meeting and, as a bonus, we conducted a 2-hour bird walk prior to the meeting. Although the Clear Creek Nature Trail is located just west of the Visitor’s Center, we chose to bird the Capitol Reserve. This section of the park is located immediately around the site of the capitol on the southeast side of the park adjacent to the Alabama River. It is level and provides easy access to a nice variety of habitats including mixed bottomland forest with a dense understory, cypress slough, and lawn dotted with mature hardwoods, many festooned with Spanish moss.

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Sipsey River Bottoms and Shirley’s Bridges

Shirley’s Bridges span the Sipsey River’s bottomlands in northern Tuscaloosa County. The birding here is spectacular from spring through fall, when the birds are abundant and easily observed from the road’s apron around the bridges. You will hardly believe that so many Prothonotary Warblers, Acadian Flycatchers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, and American Redstarts exist. Also look for Anhingas and Mississippi Kites, both of which breed in the vicinity. This area provides a great birding experience – one of the best in the state.

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Birding Old Lock 1 Park & Bashi Creek

by Judy and Don Self With spring migration winding down and the breeding season in full swing, May is a great time to bird southwest Alabama’s floodplain forests. Two of our favorites are Old Lock 1 Park and Bashi Creek Public Use Area. Both are maintained by the US Corps of Engineers.  Management Rd, Demopolis, […]

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Birding Backbone Creek

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 just a few miles northeast of Demopolis and provides easy access to the backwaters of the […]

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Birding Haines Island Park, Monroe County

by Judy and Don Self For a variety of habitats in a compact area, it’s hard to beat the US Corps of Engineers Haines Island Park. Whether you’re inclined to drive, hike, canoe or kayak, Haines Island offers a fantastic opportunity to observe nature in a unique setting. Birding can be spectacular in April and […]

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