Birmingham Audubon is once again offering two summer field trips to search for Kites, Storks and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and lots of them. If you have never witnessed the spectacle of Mississippi and Swallow-tailed Kites feeding on the wing, you are missing one of the most spectacular aerial shows on earth. Kites are regular late summer visitors to the Tombigbee and Alabama River systems in the upper coastal plain. Their acrobatic maneuvers while catching insects in flight is truly spectacular. And speaking of eating, another bonus on these outings is the food, Chef Lee’s in Autaugaville and the Pie Lab in Greensboro.
Hopefully, we will also see wood storks on these outings; their numbers fluctuate from year to year but hopefully we’ll have at least some to view – particularly on the Lakeland Farms-Greensboro trip. Wood storks have to be one of the homeliest creatures the good lord ever made, but in the air their striking black and white forms are beautiful sights indeed. You won’t want to miss these field trips so mark your calendars now and be brave against the summer heat!
Here are the details for both trips:
Saturday, July 30th trip: We will head to the Prattville/Autaugaville area as we have in previous years, based our success in finding kites on previous trips. These are wide ranging species so I’ll feel confident we’ll observe them on our trip at some point. Plus, the areas east of Autaugaville have yielded sporadic sightings of Painted Buntings and Lark Sparrows in the past so we’ll focus our birding efforts here in the morning.
Our departure point remains the same: the McDonalds on US 31 in Hoover, located at 1731 Montgomery Highway (US 31) across from the Galleria. Plan to depart at 7:00 a.m. and caravan to our destination from there. We will have lunch at Chef Lee’s in Autaugaville to take a break from the heat we will likely experience.
After lunch, for those who wish to continue their summer adventure, we’ll drive to the south side of the Alabama River where we will check a few sites where we’ve observed kites in the past. The picturesque “ghost town” at Robinson’s Switch Road will be worth a short visit as well, so bring your cameras!
If the necessary arrangements can be made, we’ll visit an alligator farm/heron rookery in Pine Level, south of Montgomery off US Hwy 231, at the end of the day. We’ll have dinner at Red’s Little School House Restaurant in Grady at 5:30 and then depart for the rookery from there. If you participate in this optional side trip expect a very long day in the field as we will be at the rookery until sunset. The return trip to Birmingham is about a two-hour drive.
Saturday, August 6th trip: The Galleria McDonalds, located at 1731 Montgomery Highway (US 31) across from the Galleria, will serve as our departure point for this trip, too. Plan to leave at 7:00 a.m. again. We will caravan west on I-59/20 to exit #97 and head south on AL Hwy 5 to Centerville/Brent where we’ll make a rest stop before continuing to Red Bamberg Road and the many catfish ponds south of Greensboro. We will have lunch either at the Faunsdale Bar and Grill in Faunsdale, or the Pie Lab in Greensboro, depending on which arrangements can be made in advance for a group our size. A stop at Marion Fish Hatchery and/or Perry Lakes Park to watch herons and egrets returning to their roost at day’s end is a likely bet, too.
Remember, these trips will be daylong affairs so plan accordingly and bring plenty of drinks and snacks in addition to a full tank of gas, insect repellent, rain gear, and appropriate summer attire and sunblock.
Trip Leader for both of these trips: Greg Harber, 205-251-2133 (H) or 20-807-8055 (C)
N.B. Your fearless trip leader for these summer trips has been known to arrange additional trips on short notice, so remember to monitor the BA website, the BAS-Birding Yahoo Group or the Birmingham Audubon Facebook page for up-to-date summer trip plans!