The James D Martin Heronry is nestled at the intersection of I-759 and US-411 in Gadsden and is situated on an island in the lake adjacent to the James D Martin Wildlife Park and the Gadsden Mall. Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets are present on their nests from March through late May or early June. Other species may be present in any given year. Look for Black-crowned Night Herons, Green Herons, and Double-crested Cormorants to appear from time-to-time amidst the preponderant Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets. A sandbar at the southern end of the island plays host to a few shorebirds in addition to the ubiquitous Killdeer. During migration and late winter, watch for loafing gulls and terns there. Dabbling ducks, such as Gadwalls, and Northern Shovelers may be present in the shallows around the island.
Birding the heronry can be accomplished in an hour or less. The site is a perfect complement to the James D Martin Wildlife Park, located at the NW corner of the Gadsden Mall property. During winter, the wildlife park may provide views of waterfowl and songbirds.
From I-59 near Gadsden (Etowah County), take exit 182 onto I-759 East. Remain on I-759 for 5.5 miles, taking exit 4B to US 411 N. View the heronry from the extreme southwest corner of the Gadsden Mall property.
- To view the northern and southern portions of the heronry: From US 411, pass the entrance to westbound I-759 and turn left into the Gadsden Mall. Follow to the left to reach the SW corner of the mall’s parking lot, and walk to the water’s edge to see the heronry on the large island to the lake.
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