Hoping to catch a glimpse of the aerial majesty of swallow-tailed and Mississippi kites, Birmingham Audubon visited the river region between Autaugaville and Prattville, Robinson’s Switch in Lowndes County and the gator farm near Pine Level on Saturday July 25, 2015.
On our way to the first stop at the southern terminus of Autauga County Road 29 we observed a very cooperative fox squirrel, which posed for an extended period atop a fencepost. Among the birding highlights at the stop were painted buntings (3 adult males, 1 adult female and one fledgling), hundreds of northern rough-winged swallows, vultures of both species and two Mississippi kites.
Continuing with our itinerary, we observed Mississippi (10) and swallow-tailed kites (4) at the southern terminus of Autauga 41. A field adjacent to the road had recently been mowed, and the kites were feeding upon the insects displaced from the cut hay; at times they flew directly overhead. A yellow-breasted chat uttering introductory notes to its song tried its best to fool us into thinking it was a northern bobwhite.
Following our lunch at Chef Lee’s, which features good old-fashioned Southern-style cooking, we traveled from Autaugaville to the south side of the Alabama River and Lowndes County Road 40. There we encountered a dickcissel singing on the wires and even more Mississippi (10) and swallow-tailed kites (14).
The group took a break from birding to enjoy the southern ambiance of the ghost town at Robinson’s Switch, where trees draped in Spanish moss and old wooden buildings coated in a layer of red dust harken back to a bygone era. As it was now 3:45 p.m. and the day warm, a break at Wendy’s for a Frosty provided welcome relief from the relentless sun.
Red’s Little Schoolhouse in Grady once again proved to be a popular choice for dinner among the field trip participants, and a spectacular double rainbow against the backdrop of a late afternoon sky was an unexpected treat! The sight of thousands of cattle egrets, white ibis and a handful of little blue herons plying the skies above the ponds as evening fell was stunning.
Visit the Birmingham Audubon Facebook page for a selection of photos from the outing. Also, be sure to join us on Saturday August 1, 2015 for our trip to the Greensboro area where we hope to see even more kites, plus wood storks, scissor-tailed flycatchers and white pelicans. See the web site for details.