Field Trip: Oak Mountain State Park and Dunnavant Valley Greenway
September 21, 7:00 am–5:00 pm
Join us as we look for lingering summer breeders and fall migrants while enjoying early fall colors among the wooded ridges and valleys of Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama’s largest park. Oak Mountain’s forested slopes provide breeding habitat for Summer Tanagers, Scarlet Tanagers, and Wood Thrushes. From vantage points near the top of the mountain, the panoramic views may include migrating raptors such as Broad-winged Hawks. We’ll continue our birding explorations at points along Double Oak Lake, stopping briefly to visit the elevated boardwalk known as the Treetop Nature Trail, which offers views of the Alabama Wildlife Center’s non-releasable birds of prey, as well as good opportunities to see the resident songbirds, woodpeckers, and other birdlife of this forested valley.
We’ll plan to picnic at outdoor facilities near the lower fishing lake before visiting our second destination of the day, exploring the flanks of Double Oak Mountain at the Dunnavant Valley Greenway east of 280 on Shelby County Highway 41. The Greenway offers access to a natural path along Yellow Leaf Creek that ascends and descends a number of small hills, most of which are covered in large and picturesque rock formations.
The details: Meetup is at 7 a.m. at the Information Center on John Findlay Drive (1 John Findlay Drive, Pelham), just before the entrance to Oak Mountain State Park, located off I-65 (exit 246 for AL-119/Cahaba Valley Road). From there, we’ll carpool and caravan through the park before proceeding to our second stop at Dunnavant Valley Greenway. The trailhead is located on Dunnavant Valley Road (Hwy 41) between Birch Creek Drive and River Birch Way.
Please note, while our field trip is free, there is a fee to enter the park. Visit their website for the latest rates. Last we checked, it was $5 per adult (age 12+), $2 per child (age 4–11), $2 per senior (age 62+), and free for ages 3 and under. Be sure to bring the usual supplies: rehydrating drinks, snacks, a full tank of gas, sunscreen, insect repellant, rain gear, and comfortable layers for staying warm or cool. In the case of inclement weather, the event may be cancelled. You may contact the trip leader the morning of the event if the weather is questionable.
Accessibility: There may be a fair amount of walking on established paths with some uneven terrain. The 300-foot elevated boardwalk at the Treetop Nature Trail is wheelchair accessible.
The food: Please pack a picnic lunch to enjoy with us at the fishing lakes at the east end of Oak Mountain State Park.
The birds: Summer Tanagers, Scarlet Tanagers, and Wood Thrushes should all still be present, along with American Redstarts, Black-and-White Warblers, and such fall migrants as Grey-cheeked and Swainson’s Thrushes and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Sightings of Broad-winged Hawks and other migrating raptors are also possible, as well as water birds such as Great Blue Herons and Belted Kingfishers. Check out the Alabama Birding Trails info here.
Trip leaders: Greg Harber and Anne Miller will lead this trip (Greg: 205-807-8055; Anne: 205-902-1389. Please contact on the day of the trip only). Feel free to email us if you have questions.