Wheeler NWR Spring Migration Count (NABT)

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. Since we won’t have a single gathering spot for folks to meet and join a group, new participants should contact Dwight Cooley. – Dwight Cooley, Leader (256-565-6239; sabrewing@earthlink.net)

Wheeler NWR – Blackwell Swamp/Penny Bottoms/Buckeye (NABT #26)

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 a few 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 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). – Dick Bruer, Leader (256-714-1992; dick.bruer@gmail.com)

CANCELLED: Wheeler NWR-Limestone Bay/Arrowhead Landing/White Springs Dike (NABT #20, 23, 24)

CANCELLED:

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 couple of 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 (last year one turned up on the golf course at Point Mallard). 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 (256-837-5646; phinken@wowway.com)

Wheeler NWR -Beaverdam Peninsula Tower/Limestone Bay/Arrowhead Landing/White Springs Dike (NABT #20, 23, 24)

Join us for another trip to one of our favorite birding areas, as we look for waterfowl, raptors, cranes, a variety of songbirds, etc. Expect to be behind locked refuge gates for 2-3 hours, afterwards lunching at Apple Lane Farms, for those interested. 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). – Dick Bruer, Leader (256-714-1992; dick.bruer@gmail.com)

Wheeler NWR Audubon Christmas Bird Count (NABT)

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is the oldest and largest citizen science event in the world. For over a hundred years, people have gathered during the winter holiday season to identify and count birds. In the process, they have created a vast pool of bird data that is a valuable source of information on the status and distribution of early winter bird populations. Parties of birders are assigned to different parts of a count circle, 15 miles in diameter, to identify and count all birds seen or heard from dawn to dusk. There are currently 10 active count circles in Alabama and over 2000 nationwide. Wheeler is one of the more productive inland count areas around, usually yielding 115-120 species, and always including some unusual birds. Birders of all skill levels are welcome and needed; we go in all types of weather. To join a party, meet at the Wheeler NWR Interpretive Nature (Visitor) Center, south off Hwy 67, east of Decatur. From I-65 take exit 334 and head toward Decatur; after crossing the water, the road to the Visitor Center will be on the left (watch for a sign on the right). We’ll regroup there at sundown for the tally (compilation), which is a lot of fun. Bring binoculars, a spotting scope, if you have one, and lunch. (34.547406 -86.951136). – Dwight Cooley, Leader (256-565-6239; sabrewing@earthlink.net)

Wheeler NWR – Beaverdam Peninsula Tower/Limestone Bay/Arrowhead Landing/White Springs Dike (NABT #20, 23, 24)

Our second trip to the White Springs Dike area should be productive. Waterfowl variety and numbers will likely be impressive and most or all winter-resident songbird species will be around. We’ll head first to the goose tower observation platform, then bird nearby Beaverdam Peninsula, which is excellent for waterfowl, raptors, cranes, some open-country songbirds (pipits, horned larks, possibly longspurs), etc. Then we’ll head to Limestone Bay and White Springs Dike along our regular route, where we’ll be behind locked gates for 2-3 hours. We should encounter lots more waterfowl here, e.g., Canada, White-Fronted, Snow, perhaps Ross’ and Cackling Goose, a variety of dabbler and diving ducks, White Pelican, etc. There should be plenty of songbirds and raptors along the way too; Bald Eagles have been regularly sighted in this area the past several years, and we had a Merlin near the Decatur end last year. We should be done by lunch; Apple Lane Farms, anyone? 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 (256-837-5646; phinken@wowway.com)

Wheeler NWR – Penny Bottoms/Blackwell Swamp/Rockhouse/Buckeye (NABT #26)

Attendees will get to see another interesting part of the refuge on this trip. This area runs parallel to the Tennessee River and should yield a nice variety of songbirds, raptors, waterfowl and other species. 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). – Dick Bruer, Leader (256-714-1992; dick.bruer@gmail.com)