A Guide to Birding in Georgia

         Piedmont Region

    Click on the links to jump directly to a specific county; 
                   click your BACK button to return here:

       Baldwin      Columbia      Hall                                  Pike
       Banks        Coweta         Hancock     Madison         Polk    
       Barrow       DeKalb         Haralson     McDuffie         Putnam     
       Bibb           Douglas       Harris         Meriwether      Rockdale
       Butts          Elbert           Hart            Monroe          Spalding
      Carroll         Fayette         Heard         Morgan          Stephens
       Cherokee    Forsyth         Henry         Muscogee     Talbot
       Clarke         Franklin        Jackson      Newton         Taliaferro
       Clayton       Fulton          Jasper        Oconee          Troup
       Cobb          Greene         Jones         Oglethorpe      Upson
                         Gwinnett       Lamar        Paulding         Walton
                                             Lincoln      Pickens          Warren


The Piedmont Province contains a series of rolling hills and occasional isolated mountains. Rivers and ravines are found throughout this province. This is an area of oak-hickory-pine forests and mixed deciduous forests. Oak-hickory-pine forests are the most widespread type of forest in the southeastern United States and cover the entire Piedmont from Virginia south to Alabama and west to Texas. The dominant trees include oaks, hickories, Short-leaf Pine, and Loblolly Pine. Pines occur in the less favorable or disturbed areas of the Piedmont. In river valleys, mixed deciduous forests of hardwood trees such as Sweet Gum, Beech, Red Maple, elms, and birches are found.

More Georgia Birders live in the Piedmont than any other region. This is not a surprise, since it is home to our sprawling state capital of Atlanta and several other major cities. In fact, some of the best birding locations in the state are just minutes from major population centers in this region... Kennesaw Mountain and Cochran Shoals (just north of Atlanta)... Oxbow Meadows Environmental Park and Standingboy Creek WMA (just south and north of Columbus, respectively)... Phinizy Swamp and Merry Brothers Brickyard Ponds in Augusta... and Bond Swamp, Ocmulgee National Monument, and Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge not far from Macon. A great benefit of larger numbers of birders visiting an area and filing their reports to GABO-L and eBird is better coverage of these locations. This not only helps others know when and where to look for certain bird species year-round, but can also increase our knowledge of the distribution, range, breeding range, and more for many species. No matter where you live in Georgia's Piedmont, chances are good that there are great birding opportunities right around the corner so grab your binoculars, family, or friends and go find some birds!

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: All photos and other content on this website are the exclusive property of Ken Blankenship (KB) and Rachel Cass (RC), unless otherwise credited. Unauthorized use and reproduction is strictly prohibited; you can usually obtain friendly permission to use images by sending me an email.

= summer
F = fall
W = winter
Sp = spring
YR = year-round

[July 2005]
= Most recently checked by KB
[N/A] = Not yet checked by KB

  = Location is within +/- 10 miles of the indicated interstate highway. This is especially helpful for out-of-town birders who may be passing through Georgia while travelling and would like to get a quick birding fix. This is also helpful for birders planning a "Big Day," where staying close to a major interstate corridor is essential for covering the greatest diversity of habitats in 24 hours.

   = Location is a "Georgia Birding Hotspot." Though this designation is subjective, it generally means that the area should be given high priority when planning a birding trip to a region. Some Hotspots offer incredible, productive birding virtually year-round (Jekyll Island), while the best birding of the year may be more seasonal at others (Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park).

= Shorebird Migration; this very generally refers to mid-March thru May in spring and mid-July thru mid-October in fall. Fall is the prime shorebird season. Baird's and Buff-breasted Sandpipers likely only in fall. Peak passage of specific species is quite variable.
PM = Passerine Migration; this very generally refers to April and May in spring and August thru mid-October in fall. This includes all songbirds - wood warblers, vireos, tanagers, thrushes, flycatchers, etc. Peak passage of specific species is quite variable. Spring migration is much more concentrated and birds are often in colorful breeding plumage. Fall migration is more spread out; fall wood warblers can be notoriously difficult to identify (or even impossible to determine sex), with numerous juveniles which do not exhibit the same obvious field marks as adults. 
IBA = Important Bird Area; the aim of the IBA Program is to identify and conserve key breeding and feeding sites for birds. An Important Bird Area is a place that provides essential habitat for one or more species of bird, whether in breeding season, winter, or during migration. These sites are considered to be exceptionally important for bird conservation; see Georgia's IBA Webpage


1) Milledgeville Oconee River Greenway        [N/A]


[DeLorme pg. 35, C9-10]

This phase of the Greenway park was completed in early 2008 and further expansion is planned.  Birding in the spring migration of 2008 was disappointing (perhaps because of the recent disruption) but fall of 2008 was relatively good with at least 16 warbler species as well as a rare Black-billed Cuckoo, a Wilson’s Warbler, and Philadelphia Vireos.  Travel east out of Milledgeville on Hwy 22, about 0.5 mile from downtown and just before the Oconee River bridge turn right on the gravel road.  Follow this road to the parking area.  The grassy area along the road near the entrance can be good for sparrows in the winter.  Cliff Swallows nest under the bridge and Red-headed Woodpeckers breed on the edge of the field.  Eastern Bluebirds are also frequently in this field as well as Indigo Buntings in the summer.  Behind the field, Swainson’s Warblers can be found singing from a wetland area in the spring.  Take the concrete sidewalk nearest the river to the south.  Belted Kingfishers are common on the river and also look for Great Blue Herons, occasionally Osprey, and (rarely) Anhinga.  Between the second and third platform overlooking the river look right into the woods where you may spot an active Red-shouldered Hawk nest in late spring.  You can then take a short dirt trail to the left along the river to Fishing Creek, though it gets a bit steep and is muddy after a rain.  If you stay on the concrete and later take a left at the intersection, this will eventually meet up with the dirt trail.  In this area of the Greenway Blue-headed Vireos may be found in the winter.  Continuing on, you will next reach Fishing Creek and then arrive at the area behind Georgia Military College with some exercise stations.  In clear areas behind GMC, scan the sky for raptors.  After the exercise stations, take a left at the next intersection and this will take you back to the parking lot for a loop distance of approximately 1 mile.  This area has breeding Blue Grosbeaks in the summer.  Cedar Waxwings are common in the winter as well as woodpeckers and Red-shouldered Hawks in all seasons.  There is also a dirt path to the north of the bridge that can be explored. Lockerly Arboretum, located south of Milledgeville, can also be a decent birding site but it is only open on Saturday afternoons on weekends.
Text by Steve Parrish.













































Birding sites needed!

 1) Landfill         [N/A]
mid F-early Sp
[Delorme pg 21, G-9] Inland gull site; may be worth checking briefly in winter for a rarer gull, or to check off Ring-billed Gull for the county; both Turkey and Black Vultures may also be in the area. Located on Carl-Bethlehem Rd in Barrow County, less than a mile north of GA 316. Ring-billed Gulls by the hundreds, loafing on the north hillside for the landfill, past the main entrance, but bearing left before reaching the scales. Ask permission if you wish to scan the gulls, must stay in vehicle.

 1) Central City Park and Lower Poplar Street (Macon)        [March 2008]           
mid Sp-early Su
See Beaton's Birding Georgia.
[DeLorme pp. 34-35, G 5-6]
This is not one of my favorite spots to bird, very urban... but yet, I am always drawn here by the amazing spectacle of both Baltimore and Orchard Orioles breeding in the large sweet gums, oaks, and magnolias that are along the road into the park and in the park itself. Another cool benefit is that the park is right off Exit 2 on I-16, meaning that you can make a brief foray here in no time at all. When you get off at Exit 2, head south (into town) for only 0.1 mile and turn left at the first light, just before passing under a RR overpass. In 0.2 mile, make a tricky left turn between two brick walls into the park. I usualy park on the left just after coming through rows of young oaks on either side of the road, at a building that says "Georgia State Fair" (PHOTO 1), this is also near a gazebo covered with jasmine vines. Take 15-20 minutes to walk around the park, listening carefully and looking for Orchard and Baltimore Orioles flying around, building nests, or feeding young (later in summer). The oaks along the approach road are good, as are the older, larger sweet gums and magnolias (PHOTOS 2 and 3). You may also encounter Easten Kingbirds, American Goldfinch, House Finch, American Robin, or even a Loggerhead Shrike. When done here, continue down the road past a minor league baseball stadium and over a RR crossing. At the first available road after this (you dead-end into it), turn left onto Lower Poplar St. In an area of low trees on your right, you may find Common Ground Doves, Mourning Doves, and other birds eating birdseed left out by local businesses along.  If you keep going down this street (past a popular lunch diner on your left), you'll come through a nice low, swampy area on both sides of the road that may have Hooded Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, or Barred Owl. In April 2007 a rare Ross' Goose was found at the end of this road in a pasture (PHOTO 4), hanging out with Canada Geese.
  PHOTO 1       PHOTO 2      PHOTO 3         PHOTO 4
Text and photos by KB.

 2) Ocmulgee National Monument   mid Sp-mid F            [Sept 2007]           
See Beaton's Birding Georgia.
[DeLorme pg. 35, G-6]

 3) Bond Swamp               [March 2008]              
PM, late Sp-Su for breeding birds    
[DeLorme pg. 35, G-6 and H-6]
Located in both Bibb and Twiggs Counties just off I-16 just SE of Macon. Get off at Exit 6 (US Hwy 23 / Alt 129) and drive south on Hwy for 1.3 miles. Turn right onto Bonds View Rd and in 0.3 miles the road will become gravel and enter the national wildlife refuge. Almost immediately you will be in great bottomland habitat near the Ocmulgee River (PHOTOS 1-3). Take your time, driving slowly with windows down and stopping to bird when you hear something interesting. Birds of note include Prothonotary Warbler, Swainson's Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher, Indigo Bunting, Common Yellowthroat, and more. The best areas for Swainson's Warbler feature very thick, brushy understory such as Chinese privet. Do not play any audio in this area; you will not need it - in spring and early summer you will easily hear several males singing on territory especially earlier in the day. After crossing a small creek, you will eventually reach the river itself. Park to the side near some metal posts - unless you have a pretty tough 4x4 vehicle the road is not passable from this point on but there is lots of great birding to do on foot. NOTE: A massive storm and tornados caused severe damage in this area and at the nearby National Wildlife Refuge of the same name in spring 2008. However, the roads should be cleared of downed trees and the disturbance may actually benefit Swainson's Warblers and other scrub-loving species of birds. You can get open views on the river (PHOTO 4) to check for waders or divers, and Mississippi Kites may be observed overhead in spring and summer. The area is reasonably popular with fishermen and people fooling about with ATVs and trucks, so early morning is best. Further south on Hwy US 23 / Alt 129, just past the county line (and so in Twiggs County), there are two parking lots for the NWR: first, for the Longleaf Pine trail on the left and, second, for the Beaver Swamp Trail on the right. Visit the refuge website to view a good
map showing the location of both trails (and Bonds View Rd), a bird list, and details of when the trails are closed for firearm hunts. In spring and summer the Beaver Swamp trail is also good for a variety of bottomland forest breeders including Prothonatory Warbler, Northern Parula, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Summer Tanager, Pileated Woodpecker, Wood Duck, and Mississippi Kite. The NWR brochure describes the possibility of wintering wildfowl, but the trails do not seem to access appropriate areas.
   PHOTO 1   PHOTO 2    PHOTO 3     PHOTO 4
Text by KB & Steve Barlow; Photo 1 by SB, others KB

 1) Bucksnort Rd               [March 2007]             
late Sp-Su for breeding birds, PM

[DeLorme pg. 34, A-1]
Open habitat, several pairs of Dickcissel 2005-2007; Bobolinks during migration, other open habitat spp. breed here like Eastern Meadowlark, Grasshopper Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, etc. Get off at Exit 201 and head west (right coming south, left coming north) Turn right at the first light - Bucksnort Rd. You'll pass a truck wash, gas station, etc. In about 2-3 miles you will come into expansive wheat fields on both sides of the road, you can't miss it. You will come through a smaller field before the main area, so be wary and keep going until it really opens up (PHOTO 1). Slow down and listen for singing Dickcissel and look along the power lines; there are two side streets on your right that you can pull off and park safely away from traffic to listen and scan the power lines - Harkness Rd first, then Foster Rd which is more in the center of the area. You will also hear Eastern Meadowlarks singing, and possibly Blue Grosbeak, Grasshopper Sparrow, or Indigo Bunting. A little further along and you'll come to Fenner Rd on the left; turn here and park to the side. This is another nice spot to get out and walk around. In migration you may see or hear Bobolinks; always check an area of shrubs and trees in the field to your right (north) for them an other birds. If you continue down this road, you'll come to a nice creek crossing that is worth birding in migration as well. In early spring (March) some of these fields may be planted with blooming clover which is real eye-candy for folks not accustomed to this saturation of fuchsia pom-poms (PHOTO 2).
  PHOTO 1         PHOTO 2
Text and photos by KB

 1) SouthWire/Richard's Lake and Walker's Lake            [Feb 2007]
W for waterfowl
[DeLorme pg. 25 E-6 & pg. 24 E-5]
These two lakes may host interesting waterfowl, and are worth a check from late fall through early spring. Notably, they hosted a group of up to four rare Common Mergansers from Jan-Feb 2007. Also seen were Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead, Pied-billed Grebe, and Ring-billed Gull. From I-20 west of Atlanta, get off at Exit 24 and head south for 11.7 miles on Hwy 61/166 (Bankhead Hwy). Turn left at a light onto Northside Dr to continue on Hwy 166. In 1.8 miles, go through a light with Hwy 27/16 and notice the strange six-story prison on your left at this light. At the next light (0.9 miles down the road), take a right onto Blandenburg Rd. In 0.3 miles, you'll see the lake ahead. Turn right onto Wind Song Ct on your right and park on the shoulder. From here you can walk down Blandenburg road which crosses the lake and scope from there; be very careful because local traffic moves fast. You can gain another good vantage point by driving across the lake and taking the first left onto Strickland Rd and parking in a small picnic area on your left. To get to Walker's Lake, go back to Hwy 166 and turn right. Continue for 3.5 miles to a T-intersection and turn left onto Tyus-Carrollton Rd and in just 0.2 miles take another left to continue on this road (there is a Marathon gas station on the left at this light - the road is very new here so some GPS systems will not show the intersections properly). After 1.1 miles, turn left onto Old Camp Church Rd. You'll pass through a residential area and some open pastures. Exactly 1.2 miles from Old Camp Church Rd, turn right onto Willie Walker Rd. After just 0.3 miles, turn left onto Walker Lake Rd. From here, you'll pass through a new neighborhood being built in a former rural pasture with three total lakes, all visible from the road. The largest (on the left side) is Walker's Lake. You can get fairly open views from the road; make sure to be respectful of private property and don't block the roads - you are, after all, in a neighborhood. Photos 1-3 show views of SouthWire/Richard's Lake while Photos 4 and 5 show extremely distant views of Common Mergansers mixed with Ring-necked Ducks and Hooded Mergansers.
  PHOTO 1         PHOTO 2         PHOTO 3         PHOTO 4        PHOTO 5
Text and photos by KB.

 2) McIntosh Reserve                    [Sept 2007]
PM, May-June for breeding birds
[DeLorme pg. 25, F-7]
1046 W. McIntosh Circle, Whitesburg GA. Phone (770) 830-5879. You can reach the town of Whitesburg on several routes from either I-20 or I-85 SW of Atlanta. From the traffic circle in Whitesburg at the intersection of GA Hwy 5 and US 27 in eastern Carroll County, go south on GA Hwy 5 for 2.2 miles and turn left onto West McIntosh circle; there is a small brown park sign here on Hwy 5 for the McIntosh Reserve. Stay on this road, and you'll come through the main gate which is open from 7:30am-8pm daily (PHOTO 1). Exactly 1.5 miles from Hwy 5, you'll come to the office and pay station. If you are not a resident of Carroll County, you will pay a $2.00 fee at the window, and make sure to ask for a map of this 600-acre area. Continue in on the main road, and you'll come through some open fields with mature deciduous forest edge habitat, and pass the grave of Chief McIntosh along with a reproduction of his home (PHOTO 2). Soon the paved road will bear to the left, and you should follow a gravel fork to the right, which descends just a bit into a massive open field bordering the Chattahoochee River (PHOTO 3). You'll come around the near end of the field and park under a good, wide strip of river birch, sycamores, walnuts, and a few oaks that separates the field from the river (PHOTO 4). Scan the river for interesting waterfowl, waders, or divers - primarily in winter. In migration, Spotted Sandpiper or waterthrushes may be seen on the muddy banks or logs along the edge of the river, and Bald Eagle is known to nest along the river in this area. Various sparrow species may also be found near the field in winter, including Fox Sparrow. Walking all along the edges of this huge field in primetime migration will take you through a good diversity of habitat and could easily fill an entire morning with productive birding. Along the river, the isolated strip of tall deciduous trees can attract several flocks of migrants, which can be followed fairly easily on the River Trail as they move up or down stream; this may help you to pull more positive ID's out of the flocks. Birds you may find include Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Magnolia Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Northern Parula, Eastern Wood Pewee, Yellow Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Summer Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and more. As you loop around the far end of the field away from the river, you'll notice that the hardwoods start to give way to lots of willow trees, box elders, river birch, and alders as a flooded beaver pond and related muddy creeks appears through the trees (PHOTO 5). This scrubby area is just great habitat, and is good for Yellow Warbler in migration, as well as Common Yellowthroat, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Indigo Bunting, Great-crested Flycatcher, waterthrushes, possible Empidonax flycatchers, and more. When you come all the way back near where you split from the paved road, you'll notice a trail heading into the woods on the side of the field opposite the river. This will take you through more wooded habitat, and then along the back side of the beaver pond area (PHOTO 6). There are many other trails in the area to explore, which are shown somewhat clearly on the map you can pick up at the office. There are campsites along the river with picnic tables and grills, and the area is popular for horseback riding (with room for trailers at the campsites) and mountain biking, and unfortunately also for flying model airplanes; they can be loud and annoying if present. The facility also has restrooms, picnic shelters, and a children's play area. As you head towards the entrance to the property, turn right onto a one-way loop road after you pass the McIntosh house (which will now be on your left). Park when you see a children's play area, which includes a mini water park (no longer in service) along with restrooms that are well-maintained. Bird the edges of this open area thoroughly (PHOTO 7); there is a creek that runs just inside the edge of the woods here. Birds you may encounter include species mentioned earlier along with Hooded Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, American Redstart, Canada Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Pine Warbler, flycatchers, and (more rarely) Blue-winged Warbler, Nashville Warbler, and possibly waterthrushes or Acadian Flycatcher on the creek itself. The property is under-birded, features a nice diveristy of habitat and, being along a major river, it has great potential during migration. Visit this 
park website or this one
 PHOTO 1   PHOTO 2    PHOTO 3    PHOTO 4     PHOTO 5   PHOTO 6    PHOTO 7
Text and photos by KB.

 3) Carrollton Land Application Facility                    [Sept 2007]
PM, W for waterfowl
[DeLorme pg. 24, E-5]
This is a large property with diverse habitats including open fields, scrubby edge habitat, bottomlands, a marsh, and a large holding reservoir for treated water. It cannot be accessed freely by the public, but field trips will be offered in the future (one is in the works for Nov 2007). You can contact
Stanley Tate, the Birding Community's ambassador to the facility, to discuss field trips or small group visits. When you enter the gate of the facility, you will immediately notice sprinkler heads all around, which the facility uses to apply treated water to the soil. On your left are long strips of woods that have been separated by the cuts made to lay the water pipes; listen for calling or singing birds and stop when you hear something interesting. On your right, you'll soon come into expansive open fields (PHOTO 1) with more sprinkler heads. This area may hold open habitat species like sparrows, Indigo Bunting, or Blue Grosbeak; Eastern Meadowlark or Bobolink are also possible. You will soon come to a gravel road on your left, which will descend to the water treatment facility buildings and a large holding pond (PHOTO 2). This pond can be productive for wintering waterfowl and migrating shorebirds. You may encounter Northern Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal, Wood Duck, Mallard, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, Pied-billed Grebe, yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, peeps, and more. The pond is surrounded by great habitat, and it is best to bird your way around the edges on a gravel track, starting on the near side. This area is bordered by a scrubby field that gives way to some willow, box elder, and alder-dominated brush habitat (PHOTO 3). During migration you may find birds like Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Song Sparrow, Yellow Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Phoebe, Common Yellowthroat, or (speculatively) rarer species such as Blue-winged, Golden-winged, or Nashville Warbler in these areas. As you round the end of the pond, you'll come along the back side which has a beautiful cattail-filled marsh (PHOTO 4). In winter, this area may also have a few ducks or waders; Sora has been found and Virginia Rail is possible in winter. Also in winter, all the brushy edges here and elsewhere on the property should produce some good sparrows such as Song, Swamp, White-throated, Field, and perhaps a few uncommon species will turn up as well. As you walk along the far side of the pond, you are next to a swamp with lots of dead snags; this area is great for woodpeckers, including Red-headed, Red-bellied, Hairy, Downy, Pileated, and Northern Flicker. The canopy and mid-story here may also produce flocks of migrants in spring and fall. Unfortunately, you cannot complete a loop back to your vehicle because part of the facility is fenced off; return the way you came - maybe you'll find a few birds you missed the first time. Back at the main road, turn left and you'll soon descend to the other access gate, which is just before a bridge over the Little Tallapoosa River. Turn right onto a gravel track in front of this gate, which will take you along some nice bottomland habitat next to the river. Stop when you hear something interesting, and take your time to bird this area. You may find species such as Acadian Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, waterthrushes along the creek, and Empidonax flycatchers; Swainson's Warbler has been detected and may breed here. When you're finished here, you will leave the way you came. The mayor of Carrollton has been very gracious to offer access to this property to the Birding Community, so be sure to have Stanley pass along our appreciation when you visit!
PHOTO 1    PHOTO 2     PHOTO 3    PHOTO 4
Text and photos by KB.

 4) Buffalo Creek Swamp                    [Sept 2007]
PM, W for waterfowl

[DeLorme pg. 25, E-6]
A quick and enjoyable stop at this pretty wetlands may produce interesting waterfowl, waders, or sparrows in winter and/or a few migrants in spring and fall. From the overpass intersection of the Carrollton By-Pass and US Hwy 27 south of the city (where there are plenty of restaurants to patronize if you're birding Carroll County), head west on the by-pass for 1.1 miles and turn left (south) onto Hays Mill Rd. In 2.6 miles, turn right onto Laurel Rd. This road is only paved for about 30 yards and then becomes gravel; there are some washboards so drive slowly. In 0.7 miles, park well to the side of the road in the middle of a large swamp in the floodplain of Buffalo Creek. You may see Anhinga, Wood Duck, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Green Heron, Blue-winged Teal, or other water-relating species out in the marsh. The brushy habitat along the road may hold sparrows in winter such as Swamp, White-throated, or Song; the same areas may have migrants in spring or fall and there are always lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds fighting over access to prolific jewelweed in September. There are many snags out in the swamp where you may find Red-headed and other woodpeckers socializing. Just before you reach the swamp, you crossed over a creek on a wooden bridge. Walk back to this area, which is full of willows and alders, and look and listen for birds like Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Indigo Bunting, Magnolia Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, and you may be lucky to find a waterthrush in the area as well.

Text and photo by KB

 1) Boling Park             [Sept 2007]
PM, May-June for breeding birds
[DeLorme pg. 20, C-2; lower left corner of grid, where the "Bus 5" highway icon is]
This multi-use sports complex makes for a nice walk during migration along the Etowah River just outside the town of Canton. From I-575, get off at Exit 16 and head west for 0.8 miles where you'll dead-end into Hwy 5 at a light. Turn right, cross the bridge over the Etowah River, and immediately after crossing the bridge (0.5 miles from the light), turn left at the sign for Boling Park. You will wind your way through soccer and baseball fields and other sports facilities, with the river on your left; after you walk the main trail you may wish to wander this area to look for more birds later. Continue to the end of the pavement where you will park at a jogging trail (two Port-o-jons are found here). Begin birding at the very large open field which is surrounded by a gravel jogging trail (PHOTO 1). Work your way to the side along the river, which is dominated by river birch, oaks, walnuts, dogwood, and privet, where you may have flocks of migrants working the trees. Keep an eye and ear out for species like Red-eyed, White-eyed, or Yellow-throated Vireo, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Kentucky Warbler, Great-crested Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Parula, thrushes, and more. On the river itself, you may hear and see Belted Kingfisher, and Louisiana Waterthrush breeds here as well. Keep birding along the trail, and you'll soon come through the woods briefly and then to a second open field with a few mature deciduous trees out in the middle (PHOTO 2). The edges of this field are especially choked up with an understory of Chinese privet, and you may encounter Canada Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Magnolia Warbler, or (rarely) Blue-winged Warbler or Swainson's Warbler in these areas. Cedar Waxwings and Yellow-rumped Warblers may be found feeding on the berries of this plant in early spring. The whole area is also good for woodpeckers (Red-bellied, Hairy, Downy, Pileated, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Northern Flicker) as well as both White-breasted and Brown-headed Nuthatches. At the end of the second open field, the trail becomes dirt and heads back into the woods and to the left, over the "Boy Scout Bridge" (PHOTO 3) which will take you over a feeder creek. From here, the trail follows the Etowah River (PHOTO 4) as it flows over shoals down to the headwaters of Lake Allatoona. When open views of the river are afforded, take your time to relax, sometimes on some pretty rock outcroppings, and to try to detect flocks which may be working up or down-stream... the river provides the most open views into the canopy. You can keep following the trail (PHOTO 5) through some nice bottomland forest with scattered massive tulip poplars and sycamores, until you'll leave the river and head into some upland habitat that has been cut more recently and is just about all planted pine; at this point it's best to turn around and head out the way you came. From early March to mid-April, this area can be great for Crappie and White Bass fishing, as they head upstream to spawn. Every year the same old thing will catch fish after fish on a good day when they are running - a lead-head jig (1/8 oz.) in a bright color (orange, chartreuse) rigged with a plain white curly-tail grub. Yeah, it's simple... but deadly ;)
 PHOTO 1           PHOTO 2      PHOTO 3     PHOTO 4        PHOTO 5
Photos and text by KB.

 1) State Botanical Gardens            [May 2008]
IBA, PM, May-June for breeding birds
[DeLorme pg. 22, H-3]
A nice area for a walk during migration or early summer, with a good mix of hardwoods and pine, along with bottomland habitat along the Middle Oconee River for both migrating and breeding birds, and a good place to get married (OK, so we did!). From I-85 (NE of Atlanta), take Hwy 316 east towards Athens. Approaching Athens, you will come to a major intersection with Loop 10, which encircles the city. Get in the righthand lane and split right onto the loop heading east. Get off at S. Milledge (Exit 6), and turn right at the bottom of the exit. About one mile south of Loop 10, you will see the entrance to the State Botanical Gardens on the right (PHOTO 1). You will drive through a gate for the property, then come into an area of parking lots on your right. Start at the Orange Trailhead, which will be on your left with an informational sign as you enter the parking areas (PHOTO 2). You will descend into a nice hardwood forest (PHOTO 3). Listen for Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Summer Tanagers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and of course all kinds of migrating species in spring and fall like warblers, thrushes, etc. You will then come to a creek, where Acadian Flycatchers breed. As the habitat becomes scrubbier, listen and look for Kentucky and Hooded Warblers and Common Yellowthroats, with White-eyed Vireos in open areas and Black-and-White Warblers singing back in the woods. You will pass an open swampy area on the right (PHOTO 4); this is a great area for dragonflies, and woodpecker species including Red-headed and Hairy Woodpecker. Next, you will come to the Middle Oconee River (PHOTO 5) and the trail follows it to the right. Thick, scrubby areas (and Chinese privet) along here are known to host breeding Swainson's Warbler, plus Hooded Warbler and Kentucky Warbler; Louisiana Waterthrush is relatively common along the river itself so listen and look for them when the trail affords an open view of the river. Do not play any audio recordings in this area. The trail will eventually come to a powerline cut (PHOTO 6); here you can continue straight along the river to pick up the White Trail for a longer loop through the property that will take you through more bottomland habitat along the river. Or, you can turn right and walk up through this open area which is good for Indigo Bunting, Common Yellowthroat, and butterflies, and continue birding your way back to your car through the gardens along your choice of trails and roads, and of course enjoy all the beautiful plants on display (PHOTOS 7-8)!  Examples of migrants you may find include Northern Parula, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Redstart, Palm Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Swainson's Thrush, and Northern Waterthrush. Visit the garden website to view a good map of the property.
  PHOTO 1         PHOTO 2         PHOTO 3      PHOTO 4     PHOTO 5      PHOTO 6        PHOTO 7       PHOTO 8
Text and photos by KB & RC.

 2) Whitehall Forest, University of Georgia              [N/A]
PM, late Sp-Su for breeding birds  (limited access, see NOTE)
[Delorme pg. 22, H-3]
From the Athens Loop 10 perimeter, take exit 6 (Milledge Ave) and turn right. Go about 2 miles to the end of Milledge, veer right at the fork. Drive across Whitehall Rd and into the entrance of Whitehall Forest. This is the field laboratory for UGA’s Forest Resources Department. It offers similar birding as the nearby State Botanical Gardens, with mixed hardwood forest at the confluence of the North Oconee and Middle Oconee Rivers. Best during passerine migration, but also good for hardwood forest breeding species of the piedmont. The first stretch of road just inside the gate is good for open habitat birds like Blue Grosbeak, Eastern Kingbird, and Orchard Oriole. Drive straight down the main road to the very end where you will find a parking area at the Flinchums Phoenix meeting hall. Birding the edges of the parking area can be productive in migration; there is a Black Gum tree on the southwest edge of the lot (opposite the meeting hall) that can be good for thrushes and other migrants in fall when the fruits are ripe. Walk up onto the deck of the meeting hall and around the right side to the back deck, which offers a good view into the upper canopy of the trees below. The stairs at the back corner of the building lead to a short trail that takes you down to the North Oconee River floodplain. This area is good for breeding species like Louisiana Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, and Wood Thrush, and in migration can have numerous species of warblers, tanagers, and vireos. Continue downstream and right to the river confluence, where the Middle Oconee River comes in from the right. Follow the Middle Oconee upstream to an old dam and mill area. Open scrubby areas here and farther down the trail at the powerline clearing are good spots for migrant warblers in spring and fall. The old roadway path eventually winds to the right and away from the river uphill and comes out at the paved road. The brushy areas and pines here can be good for Brown-headed Nuthatch, Pine Warbler, and sometimes Prairie Warbler. Turn right at the paved road and a short walk will bring you back to the parking area. NOTE: This is a research facility; public access is limited to weekdays only from 8 am to 5 pm, and is strictly enforced. Aside from the trails around the river, there are several gravel roads traversing the property. When birding these locations, please be considerate of any research plots you may come upon, bird from the roadside only, do not leave the road. Visit the area website.
Text by Mark Freeman.

 3) UGA Intramural Fields / Lake Herrick                 [June 2007]
PM, W for waterfowl
[DeLorme pg. 22, H-3]
A nice area for a walk during migration, and may be worth a quick check in winter for waterfowl. Interesting birds since 2005 include Yellow Warbler, Palm Warlber, Black-and-white Warbler, waterthrushes (Northern possible in migration), Spotted Sandpiper, breeding Green Heron; both kinglets (Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned) and Brown Creeper in winter. From I-85 (north of Atlanta), take Hwy 316 towards Athens. Approaching Athens, you will come to a major intersection with Loop 10, which encircles the city. Get in the righthand lane and split right onto the loop heading east. Get off at College Station Rd (Exit 7), and turn left at the bottom of the exit. Go under the highway and through the immediate light for folks entering/exiting on the other side. At the very next light, turn left into the intramural fields area. Follow this road around the fields until you see tennis courts on your left. Turn at the very next road and continue to a parking area with a boardwalk (PHOTO 1). This will lead you down to the lake and a shallow arm that may have Spotted Sandpiper or Waterthrush at the edge. Listen and look for Green Heron, Belted Kingfisher, and Great-blue Heron. In winter, scan the lake for waterfowl (PHOTO 2). When you cross the bridge, you can turn left for a shorter loop walk around the lake, through nice mixed pine and hardwood habitat, and then through some parking areas and along the roads you came in on for good passerine migrant birding. In winter look for kinglets or a more rare Brown Creeper. You can also turn right after the bridge, which will create a longer loop, passing through more similar woodland habitat and another smaller pond that may be interesting as well before returning to Lake Herrick to complete the loop described previously. From late winter until early summer (when it gets too darn hot), Lake Herrick is also a great bass fishing site. I recommend plastic worms like Zoom finesse junebug or watermelon with purple glitter. In late spring/early summer when weed mats form in some areas, small fish fry are major targets of big bass along the edges of the weeds and the top-water action with a Heddon Pop-R or Zara Puppy can be killer!
   PHOTO 1       PHOTO 2
Text and photos by KB.

 4) Sandy Creek Park (Lake Chapman)              [May 2008]
PM, W for waterfowl
[Delorme p. 22, F-3]
A nice mix of upland pine and oak woods, open fields, and a large pond for wintering waterfowl, including Snow Goose and Ruddy Duck in 2006. The turn off for Sandy Creek Park is on the east side of US 441 about 2.7 miles north of the Athens perimeter bypass. There is a $3.00 fee to enter the park.

 1) E.L. Huie Land Application Facility and Newman Wetlands Center      [Jan 2008]              

See Beaton's Birding Georgia.
[DeLorme pg. 26, F-3]
A special thanks to Carol Lambert, who manages the Newman Wetlands Center and regularly leads field trips and reports birds from several area locations to the online ListServ GABO-L. This area is a must-visit for Atlanta area birders, especially from mid-fall to mid-spring when a vast array of migrants may be seen along with great numbers of wintering waterfowl within easy driving distance of the city. It's a great place to get practice with waterfowl identification, with large numbers of birds out on open water to scope at your leisure - regulars include Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Ring-necked Duck, Northern Shoveler, Lesser Scaup, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, American Coot, Mallard, Pied-billed Grebe, etc. The Newman Wetlands Center offers a great Waterfowl Workshop every winter. In winter you can also expect American Pipit, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Least Sandpiper; of course rarities will show up as well. Since 2004, the ponds at E.L. Huie have hosted Long-tailed Duck, Eared Grebe, Greater White-fronted Goose, Snow Goose, Willet, Mottled Duck, Vesper Sparrow, White-rumped Sandpiper, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and much more. The nearby Newman Wetlands Center has a nice variety of habitat with a trail and boardwalk through wet swamps and surrounding woodlands, which offer great birding - especially in migration. Depending on season, you may see Louisiana Waterthrush, Scarlet Tanager, Winter Wren, flycatchers, several species of vireo and thrush, along with a rainbow of wood warblers in migration. Always check the feeders around the nature center building, too. Here is an alternative way to get to the area from points south on I-75, from James Brooks (in other words, may be better for folks not coming from near the Tara Blvd exit as described in Beaton's book). I-75 north or south to Exit 221 at Jonesboro Rd, west of McDonough GA. Travel due west on Jonesboro Rd approx 6.3 miles, then turn right at the light onto Freeman Road. Travel 1.3 miles to the Wetlands Center on the left; be aware that there is a very sharp bend in the road just past that point. Proceed past the bend and Shamrock Rd (which goes to Lakes Shamrock and Blalock), and continue another 1.9 miles to Dixon Industrial, turn right and you should see the gate about 1/4 mile on the left. Enter the E L Huie pond complex. As you drive over the top of the ramp, the pump house pond is immediately visible; the south pond is up the slight rise to the left, and the two north ponds are off to the right past the pump house building. Visit the area website.
   Mid-west Pond        NE Pond          NW Pond     Pumphouse Pond    South Pond
Text and photos by KB.

 1) Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park      [Sept 2008]                 

See Beaton's BirdingGeorgia.
[DeLorme pg. 20, G-1]
A site of a major Civil War battle in 1864, this mountain is so important for migrating birds that it was designated as Georgia's first Important Bird Area (IBA). Documented very well for nearly two decades, this migratory Mecca is one of the best spots to see neotropical migrants anywhere, not just in the state but east of the Mississippi River. If you are in the Atlanta area in spring or fall and looking for a little birding get-away, it is not to be missed as it is just a 30-minute drive from downtown and very close to I-75. Some of Georgia's most accomplished birders have devoted endless hours to visiting the mountain and documenting the birds they observe, with a colorful rainbow of wood warbler species being of particular interest. From I-75 heading north away from Atlanta, get off at Exit 267B which will put you heading west on Highway 5 towards Marietta, but not for long; as soon as you cross back over I-75, exit to the right when you see a sign for Hwy 41. From points north, when you're coming south on I-75 get off at Exit 267 and follow signs that say "to Hwy 41." When you get to the light at Hwy 41, turn right and go through one traffic light. At the next light, you will see a BP gas station and a McDonald's diagonally to your right; get in the left turn lanes and turn left here onto Bells Ferry Rd. Immediately after making the turn, you'll pass a Subway sandwich shop on the right - get into the long righthand turn lane and turn right at the first light, which is Old Hwy 41. Go over a RR bridge, and then through one light (with Louise's Restaurant on the corner) and soon you will see the mountain and the battlefield on your left (PHOTO 14). Turn at the next light onto Stilesboro Rd, and then left into the Visitor Center parking lot; if you get there later in the morning on a busy weekend, you may have to park on the gravel shoulder of Old Hwy 41 just past Stilesboro Rd. There isn't really a "wrong" way to bird the mountain, except maybe to use the foot trail instead of the road, because the road offers much more open views, allows more people to position themselves to see a bird, and often gives you the advantage of looking at eye level or even down into the canopy to help avoid the dreaded "warbler neck." One problem with the road, though, is that it is shared by pedestrians, motor vehicles and bicyclists so you must be vigilant. Being that it is on a mountain, the road is fairly narrow, with steep drop-offs and blind curves. Due to various concerns brought to their attention by the DOT, starting in early 2007 the park has been re-visiting access to the road and is considering several options, one of which includes closing it to all foot traffic! The Birding Community has let their voice be heard on the issue, and you can contact the park office via US mail to do the same, as the situation is still pending. When you park at the visitor's center during migration, you will usually see a small group of birders forming near a fork in the Mountain Road (just beyond the parking lot); the right fork leads over to two houses that are actually park administrative buildings (PHOTO 1). Just as you start down this short road, you'll pass under some large trees that can have good flocks of birds during migration. Just beyond the houses, bird the woods surrounding a fenced maintenance area but do not go beyond the gate. Next, backtrack down the spur road and bird the woods along the edges of the large grassy field to your left (PHOTO 2). Your shoes may get wet with morning dew, but often it's well worth it with low, scrubby-relating birds along the edges like Hooded Warbler, Canada Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Tennessee Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, White-eyed Vireo, or (rarely) Nashville Warbler. This field is often skipped by visiting birders but should not be! Another good idea is to take a few minutes to bird around the parking lot (PHOTO 3) and the trees around the visitor's center. There are some very tall tulip poplar trees towering above a shady picnic area opposite the visitor's center that may have Baltimore Orioles or other birds feeding on their flowers in spring. Below these, along the edge of the parking lot by the picnic area is a black gum tree that can be covered up with thrushes and vireos eating its fruit in the fall. When you're finished at the bottom, it's time to head up the mountain. The woods on your right and left just after you walk past a small IBA sign and through a gate are usually good - you may have Hooded Warbler, Ovenbird, Scarlet Tanager, Red-eyed Vireo, and other birds here. A brief foray up the foot trail to a scrubby, wet drainage area with lots of Chinese privet may produce Kentucky Warbler or even Louisiana Waterthrush but both of these species are rare at KMT (especially waterthrush). Continue up the road, birding your way past a Civil War monument and into the woods (PHOTO 4). The woods here tend to be kind of slow, but birds pop up now and then. Winter Wren is sometimes found in early spring down the slope to your left, and the same area can be good for Hermit Thrush (winter). You will come around a right curve in the road, and the canopy opens up just a ways up the road (PHOTO 5); this area up to a painted pedestrian crossing can be productive for flocks of migrants. The road will curve to the right again just past the pedestrian crossing with an area of pines to your left - not surprisingly Pine Warblers live here year-round and are very vocal in spring. Continue birding up the road, staying alert for feeding flocks that are sometimes given away by noisy chickadees or titmice, until you come to a large open area (PHOTO 6; known as "the first big open area"). Check the tops of any snags here for perched birds, and take your time working the scrubby vegetation along the road on both sides for White-eyed Vireo, Worm-eating Warbler, Hooded Warbler, or (rarely) Blue-winged or Golden-winged Warbler, Nashville Warbler, or Wilson's Warbler. On clear days there is a great view of downtown Marietta with Atlanta on the horizon in the distance. After another brief plunge into the woods, the road curves sharply to the right and you'll see a rock outcropping on your right. This long stretch (PHOTOS 7 & 8) can be great for flocks of migrants, and a benefit here (as mentioned earlier) is that the road cut allows you to look downhill into the canopy below. At the end of this stretch, you will reach a few boulders, a bench, and an informational sign on your left (PHOTO 9). This area is known as "the saddle," because it is part of a saddle-like ridge connecting big Kennesaw Mountain to Little Kennesaw, which is now directly in front of you. The low scrubby area below the bench has turned up all kinds of great birds, and it is also worth walking down the foot path a ways to explore this habitat more. The saddle is also a good location for a daytime hawk watch or a nocturnal thrush count (though permission must be obtained from the park for the latter). As you continue to climb on the road, you'll reach another large open area that is uphill to your right with several small dead trees and lots of low, brushy habitat; this is called the "snag area" (PHOTO 10). The brushy habitat here may turn up species mentioned in the "first big open area," along with many other interesting birds; Eastern Wood Pewees like to use the snags as perches. Eventually you will come to the upper parking lot, with another good open area of low vegetation and edge habitat downhill on the left just before the parking lot (PHOTO 11). Bird the edges of the parking lot, especially if there is a flock, and then enjoy a nice view of Atlanta before heading up the stairs to the summit trail (PHOTO 12). The trail up to the top of the mountain (PHOTO 13) can be covered up with migrants on a good day when several flocks are working the area; it can also be a dead zone on bad days. When the birds are there, here is a true opportunity to experience migratory birding bliss with birds like Cerulean Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Black-throated Green and Black-throated Blue Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, American Redstart, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, and more. It's also possible to get a bad case of "warbler neck" because the tall canopy is directly overhead. The summit itself is frequented in migration by large chattering groups of Chimney Swifts performing acrobatics overhead. Keep an eye on the sky here while you take a break and enjoy the views, because migrating or local raptors may appear as well, including Turkey or Black Vultures, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, or (rarely) Peregrine Falcon or Osprey. When you're done birding at the summit (where you can get another view of the snag area from above), you can return the way you came or walk over the summit and down a rocky foot path on the other side which will intersect the road at "the saddle" where you can turn left to head back down. Bob Zaremba has a great website on birding Kennesaw Mountain 
which includes season-specific daily trip reports, which are updated on a regular basis. You can also email him (see his site for address) and subscribe to an email group to receive daily reports of the birds seen at the mountain during migration. A definitive source for information concerning how to bird the area, seasonal occurence of species (including extremely helpful bar graphs), and much more is another one of Giff Beaton's books - Birds of Kennesaw Mountain, which can be purchased (along with Birding Georgia) at GOS Publications You can also visit the park website.  A particular attraction of the mountain for a lot of birders is the rapidly declining Cerulean Warbler - especially in spring. Along with this species, a typical walk on the mountain in the peak of spring or fall migration may encounter warblers such as Blackburnian, Worm-Eating, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Magnolia, Prairie, Tennessee (esp. fall), Chestnut-sided, Yellow-throated, Blackpoll (spring only), Black-and-white, American Redstart, Ovenbird (usually heard only), Hooded Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and many more. Each season also turns up a few rarities and uncommon birds; in recent years these include Warbling Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, MacGillivray's Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Black-billed Cuckoo, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Wilson's Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, and Blue-winged Warbler. In addition to all the warblers, a variety of thrushes, vireos, flycatchers, and other migrants use the mountain to rest and fuel up. Pay attention to the Atlanta Audubon Society web page for free guided walks on the mountain in migration.
PHOTO 1     PHOTO 2          PHOTO 3         PHOTO 4      PHOTO 5     PHOTO 6       PHOTO 7      PHOTO 8
 PHOTO 9       PHOTO 10     PHOTO 11    PHOTO 12  PHOTO 13    PHOTO 14
Text by KB, Photos by KB & RC

 2) The Acworth Lake Loop                  [Nov 2008]                  
W for waterfowl and gulls, PM
[DeLorme pg. 19, F-10]
This route is primarily best for wintering waterfowl, though the bridge over the dam between lakes Acworth and Allatoona does host nesting Cliff and Barn Swallows, and they may be joined by Northern Rough-winged Swallows or (rarely) Bank Swallows during migration. Some of the wooded areas at the various vantage points will host birds during migration, and a few resident and wintering passerines as well. There may also be gulls in winter or terns in migration. Start at I-75 Exit 278 (Glade Rd) and head south for 0.4 miles to a light with Lake Acworth Dr, turn RIGHT (this is Hwy 92). In 1.4 miles turn left into a small recreation area on Lake Acworth. The road actually goes over the dam between Lake Acworth and Lake Allatoona, and you can scope both lakes and view nesting swallows by walking around this area (PHOTO 1 & 2). Be extremely careful crossing the road to scope Lake Allatoona and when you leave in your car later - it is very busy and fast-moving. When done, carefully turn left on Hwy 92 and cross the bridge. In 0.6 miles, take the first available left turn onto Ragsdale Rd. In 0.5 miles, you will see water on your left and right. Park on the shoulder and scope the small arm of the lake to your right (PHOTO 3); both dabbling and diving ducks may be here, along with herons or egrets. You can also backtrack about 0.2 miles and go into a little park (South Shore Park) on the other side of the road for a different view of Lake Acworth (PHOTO 4). Continue down Ragsdale Rd for 0.2 miles and take a sharp right onto Acworth Due West Rd., then follow it for 1.2 miles until it deadends into Nance Road and turn left. In 0.5 miles, turn left into the entrance for Cobblestone Golf Course. Park as soon as you see spaces on the left (where the driving range is), and you can scope the upper end of the lake and a marshy area from a knoll next to the parking area (PHOTO 5). Do not venture onto the golf course and be polite not to distract golfers trying to tee off below you! Return to Nance Rd and turn left for 0.4 miles, then left again at the first light onto Main Street. Go through a commercial area, and through a light with Cowan Rd. Drive slowly through historic Acworth (neat shops and restaurants here), and just after the last block of shops, look for Academy Rd on your left (this is exactly 2.0 miles from Nance Rd). Turn left, and go through a stop sign at a school. This road will end at a small parking area with a boardwalk where you can scope the lake (PHOTO 6). When you leave, you'll see that you cannot return on Academy because it's one-way; turn right to head down Beach Dr. At the end, you'll come into a boatramp parking area and Acworth Beach, which offers very open views of most of the lake (PHOTO 7). When done, turn right out of the gravel parking area onto Seminole Rd, and turn left at a stop sign with Dallas Rd, and you'll find yourself back at Academy where you can turn right to get back to Main St. Turn left onto Main St, and 0.25 miles later you will connect back to Hwy 92 to finish your tour; note that when you see the overpass for Hwy 92, you actually have to turn left just before going under it to curve up to a right turn onto the road. Just a few spp. worth mentioning since 2006 - Horned Grebe, Caspian Tern, Herring Gull, Black Tern, Common Goldeneye, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Ruddy Duck, Ring-necked Ducked, Green-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser.
 PHOTO 1         PHOTO 2       PHOTO 3       PHOTO 4        PHOTO 5        PHOTO 6       PHOTO 7
Text and photos by KB.

3) Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (also Fulton County)
See Beaton's Birding Georgia.
 a) Cochran Shoals Unit                [March 2009]                         
PM,  late F for wrens and sparrows 
[DeLorme pg. 20, H-2]
Along with Kennesaw Mountain, Cochran Shoals is one of the premier birding locations in metro Atlanta. It is at its best during migration, but also offers unique late fall birding and some interesting wintering birds as well. The Chattahoochee River is an important migrant corridor, and the property features a variety of habitats including bottomland, swamp, willow and alder thickets, marsh, some upland woods, and a well-established sparrow field. The only complaint birders have here is that there are also lots of humans attracted to this habitat - from bikers to joggers to families, and their dogs. This may be true, but the birds happily go about their business in spite of all the people so it is well worth a little patience and a few evasive maneuvers to enjoy the birds of Cochran Shoals. You can access the area from either the southern or northern end. From points north, use Georgia 400, exit at Abernathy Rd and head west (turning right at the bottom of the exit). Go through a light with Roswell Rd, and when you reach Johnson Ferry Rd (there is a light and a church on your right), turn right. Cross the Chattahoochee River and take a left immediately onto Columns Dr, and follow it to the end where the parking lot is located. Note that you will pass the Johnson Ferry South Unit (Area 2) on your way down Columns Dr on the left, which is a nice stop as well (see description below). You can also use I-285 to access either end. To get to the north end, get off at Riverside Dr and head north. After a sharp right curve, you'll come to a light with Johnson Ferry Rd. Turn left and cross the Chattahoochee river, then follow the directions above. To get to the south access, heading east on I-285 get off at Northside Dr and go straight through the light at the top of the exit. Turn left at the next light onto New Northside Dr. Go straight through the next light, which is for people exiting I-285 coming west (if you are one of these people, turn right at the light at the top of the exit). From this light, you will curve around to the left through some office buildings, then come to a light with Northside Dr. Go straight through the light and you are now on the access road - Interstate North Pkwy. Cross over the river and turn right immediately into the parking lot. The parking fee for all CRNRA areas is $3.00; if you live in the Atlanta area, they are such good birding spots that a $25.00 annual pass is a no-brainer. Along with good numbers of the more commonly occuring species of migrating wood warblers, thrushes, vireos, tanagers, and flycatchers, Cochran Shoals often hosts an array of unique species that are otherwise uncommon in the metro area. Both Northern and Louisiana Waterthrush may be found in migration along the river bank and in any low, wet areas and the latter species breeds in small numbers. It is also a good place to find denizens of low, scrubby understory such as Hooded Warbler, Canada Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Ovenbird, White-eyed Vireo, and areas of really thick brush and river cane will sometimes produce a rare Connecticut Warbler in May. Spotted Sandpipers can be seen on the rocks out in the river, where interesting waterfowl may also be found from fall through early spring such as Blue-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser, Pied-billed Grebe, Mallard, or (rarely) Northern Pintail; secretive Wood Ducks breed in hidden sloughs and are often seen at river's edge or flying up and down the river. Great Blue Herons nest in colonies on large pines along the river every year. Other waders may also be found on the river or skulking in the swamp/marsh, such as Green Heron (breeds), Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, or Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (all uncommon to rare) or Snowy Egret (very rare). Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks soar overhead, Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks stalk the woods, and Osprey may be seen flying along the river with a fresh catch. Even Bald Eagles have been seen along the river! Groups of migrating vultures, Broad-winged Hawks, and Sandhill Cranes might be spotted cruising over at high altitude. The many dead snags in swampy areas are perfect for a rare Olive-sided Flycatcher, which is found here semi-annually in spring or fall. The same dead trees are a woodpecker's paradise, and indeed Cochran Shoals is by far the most reliable location in Atlanta to find Red-headed Woodpeckers - and lots of them! In addition to these striking breeding birds, all the other "regular" woodpecker species may be found quite readily, including Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy, and Pileated Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (fall through spring) along with plenty of Brown-headed and White-breasted Nuthatches. The sparrow field (see directions later) is a unique and special feature of this property. During fall migration (and more rarely in spring), a rare Henslow's Sparrow or (much rarer) Le Conte's Sparrow might be flushed; Lincoln's Sparrow has become a regular visitor in October in small numbers, among good numbers of Song and Swamp Sparrows. You may find the occasional Savannah or Vesper Sparrow (migration only), and rarities such as Grasshopper Sparrow and Dickcissel have made brief appearances as well. The field is also an important stop-over for both Marsh and Sedge Wrens. In mid-October it is actually possible to encounter all five species of wrens that occur in Georgia if you spend some time in and around the field. Along with the two species above you may also find a House Wren in the field, while the surrounding woods will produce many Carolina Wrens and the occasional Winter Wren. Other birds that use the field at various times of year include Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Indigo Bunting, Palm Warbler, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Bluebird, Yellow-breasted Chat, Eastern Kingbird, Northern Mockingbird, and when part of the field is flooded you may even find the odd shorebird such as Yellowlegs, Wilson's Snipe, or Solitary Sandpiper (all uncommon to rare). NOTE: Birders must take care in the sparrow field not to cause wanton destruction of the vegetation. Be ethical, tread lightly, and please do not create new paths if there is obviously a narrow foot trail present. Furthermore, do not stress the special birds of the field by over-pishing or flushing them too many times, and do not use audio playback in the field! The southern parking area on Interstate North Pkwy is closer to the city and I-285, so I will begin a suggested birding route from there. Park and pay your fee or display your pass and head north on the wide gravel jogging trail. In spring and fall, listen for noisy Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, or the chips of Yellow-rumped Warblers to alert you to the presence of flocks of migrants working the trees along the river in the canopy, the mid-story, and low brushy areas anywhere along the trail. You may encounter several species of wood warblers including: Pine, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, Chestnut-sided, Hooded, Yellow-throated, Black-throated Blue, Tennessee, Magnolia, Prairie, Palm, Northern Parula, and American Redstart (more common); Blackburnian, Cape May, Worm-eating, Blackpoll, Canada, Kentucky, Orange-crowned, Yellow, Blue-winged, and Ovenbird (uncommon); Nashville, Wilson's, or Connecticut (rare) among a few others. It is not unusual to find a dozen or more species of warblers in one day during prime time migration at The Shoals! Other interesting migrants - a few of which also stay to breed - include vireos such as Red-eyed, White-eyed, Blue-headed, Yellow-throated (last two uncommon), and Philadelphia (rare except mid-late September when uncommon); thrushes such as Swainson's, Wood, Hermit, Gray-cheeked, and Veery (latter two uncommon); flycatchers including tricky Empidonax species such as Acadian, Yellow-bellied, and Least Flycatchers; Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Wood Pewee, and Eastern Kingbird; Baltimore Orioles move through in migration while a few Orchard Orioles stay to breed in the willow swamp; and both Scarlet and Summer Tanagers are seen in good numbers. Eventually you will see a brown wildlife viewing sign on your left marking a boardwalk (PHOTO 4). Take your time birding this interesting swampy area all the way back to where the boardwalk becomes a dirt path; turn right at a wood post, go through a muddy area, and you'll quickly reach the back side of the swamp where a recent large tree blow-down (fall 2008) has created a nice open viewing area. This area may produce waterthrushes, Empids, typical warblers (see above), breeding Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Wood Ducks, and many other birds mentioned earlier. In spring you may rarely encounter a Prothonotary Warbler in this area, catch a glimpse of a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron skulking back in the alders, or in fall you may enjoy scores of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds zipping around the prolific jewelweed flowers. Head back to the main jogging trail on the river, and continue heading north; note the next side trail on the left (PHOTO 5) which takes you into the heart of the swamp/marsh, which you were skirting around on the boardwalk and dirt trail earlier. But first, go out onto a wood observation deck overlooking the river which is directly across from this trail. Scan the rocks for Spotted Sandpipers, check all the waterfowl, and in spring see if there is a swarm of swallows performing acrobatics over the rapids. This is a unique treat of spring migration at Cochran Shoals, when up to six swallow species and Chimney Swifts can be observed from the comfort of a bench! It is an awesome opportunity to study swallows in flight, compare species, and just enjoy the show - take your time because the extra investment of twenty minutes here can yield more birds than a quick stop. Northern Rough-winged Swallows sometimes congregate here by the hundreds and tend to be the most numerous species; mixed in during spring migration you may also try to spot Barn Swallows and Tree Swallows (more common), Cliff Swallows or Purple Martins (uncommon) or Bank Swallow (rare) along with scores of Chimney Swifts. When you leave the overlook, head down the swamp trail between two low concrete walls. You are now in the heart of Red-headed Woodpecker, Common Yellowthroat, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Orchard Oriole, and Red-winged Blackbird country; you can also view a lone pine from here where Great Blue Herons have attempted to nest and where on lucky occasions you may spot a perched Green Heron or (rarely) Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Areas of jewelweed (small bright orange flowers) may be covered up with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in fall. Check all snags in migration for rare Olive-sided Flycatchers; in late fall Swamp Sparrows, Song Sparrows, and (uncommonly) Rusty Blackbirds begin moving in for the winter. Occasionally in winter, Virginia Rails have been heard in this area as well. Continue birding past another set of low concrete walls, and always check a small beaver pond visible on your left through a wide open gas line cut for waterfowl (Snow Goose, White Ibis, American Wigeon, and Little Blue Heron have been seen here - all rare for the property). If you have more time, you can create a long loop on the west side of the property by continuing to follow the main gravel trail north from here. (see map below). Another possibility is to take a dirt side trail on your left just after the gravel trail takes a sharp right curve to head north. This will take you past the upper reaches of the beaver pond (lots of woodpecker snags here) and then into some upland woods habitat and a powerline cut which may produce a few more migrant flocks and will bring you back down into the boardwalk area from the other direction; this area is not birded very often but is interesting. Usually I just turn around and head back to the river. Just north of the swamp trail, you'll come to a boarded-up former restroom building, and behind it is the sparrow field mentioned earlier (PHOTO 2). It is always worth a walk around this field because, as detailed earlier, you might find any number of birds relating to it in various seasons. When you're done at the sparrow field, continue north over a foot bridge and then past a wooded area on your left with a creek flowing through it; check the edge of the woods here for migrants. About 200 yards further north, you will notice a well-worn foot path split off to the right, with a concrete sewer access unit near the beginning (PHOTO 1). This is known as the "Philly Vireo Trail," so-called because September walks have produced up to four of this normally scarce species; for unknown reasons, it also tends to be the most reliable area for rare Golden-winged Warblers and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers in the fall as well. See the maps below, which show where the trail is located. The corridor with the trail (PHOTO 3) was actually created by a sewer/water line cut; this fortuitously isolated a narrow strip of woods right along the riverbank, so if a flock is working in this area they tend to move up or down the river and can be easier to follow, which helps you get more looks to sort through the birds... unless, of course, they bail out across the trail into deeper woods. When you get to the end of the Philly Vireo Trail it will re-join the jogging path; from here you can either continue north about 200 yards where the jogging trail loops around to the left past the north parking lot and then comes back down on the west side of the property to create a long loop (mentioned earlier) or you can turn around and bird your way back to your vehicle the way you came. It is notable that the western trail corridor is much more open with a wide, grassy strip along its length. This is perfect for good numbers of Indigo Buntings, and Blue Grosbeak has been seen here on multiple occasions in spring.

PHOTO 1    PHOTO 2     PHOTO 3    PHOTO 4   PHOTO 5        MAP
Text and Photos by KB, map by National Park Service (edited by KB)

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 b) Johnson Ferry South Unit (Area 2)           [May 2008]            
PM, late F-W for sparrows
[DeLorme pg. 20, H-2]
See previous section for detailed directions. This is a less-often birded unit during migration, but has some great habitat and is certainly worth a stop. Park in the lot and bird the edges of the over-grown fields around the parking lot. At the northen end of the lot (opposite the parking fee station), there is a row of mimosa trees along the edge of the field, with a large oak tree and sycamore tree adjacent. In 2006, there was a large pile of mulch that provides a nice elevated view (PHOTO 1). This area can be simply "covered up" with good birds in fall (see Henderson Park, Dekalb County, for a description of mimosa trees). Warblers like American Redstart, Magnolia, Prairie, Hooded, and others will be feeding along with Eastern Wood Pewees and Acadian Flycatchers. Several species of Empidonax flycatchers have been seen, so get to know the key field marks in case Least or (rarely) Yellow-bellied Flycatchers are present. Bird your way back towards Columns Dr. In the fields in fall, there are lots of pokeweed bushes with berries that attract many birds - mainly mimid thrushes like Northern Mockingbirds, Gray Catbirds, and Brown Thrashers, but other birds may be feeding here, too. Eastern Kingbirds like to flycatch from the saplings in this area during migration. As you get near Columns Dr, there is a nice low, wet area with lots of willows. You may find Yellow Warblers here, along with other wood warblers, vireos, and flycatchers. In fall, the area has lots of jewelweed and you will find Ruby-throated Hummingbirds harrassing each other (and other birds!) as they feast on the flowers' nectar. In September 2006, there were several cuts made in this area for a gas line, which offer nice access to see more birds, though it can be muddy after wet weather. Head back towards the parking fee station, where there is a trail along the river. Just to the right (though the trail doesn't go here, really) are a few large oak trees, several of which have virginia creeper vines which yield berries in fall that many birds love. Watch for fluttering, feeding birds along the trunks and main branches; many will be Swainson's Thrushes or Red-eyed Vireos, but Veeries or Gray-cheeked Thrushes may be present if you're lucky. Head down the trail to the left (upstream) and soon you'll come to the other side of the mimosa trees. This area of the woods will also hold many birds that are relating to the mimosas and to a huge oak tree that is above your head. There is large a dead snag here that often has pewees on it, but look carefully because an Olive-sided Flycatcher is bound to show up here eventually. In this same area, a creek crossing provides a nice spot to look for waterthrushes, and you can also get down to the river to scan for birds here. As you bird down the trail, you'll notice a large wetland through the trees on your left. There are a few places where the woods are open enough to allow you to get to the edge to scan. The trail eventually comes to another overgrown field, which is good for sparrows in winter. You can bird the edges for migrants, then return the way you came. All the fields back around the parking lot are also good for "sparrow tromping" in late fall and winter (PHOTO 2). I have not seen a Henslow's or LeConte's Sparrow yet, but I have found Lincoln's and Vesper Sparrows,  along with Sedge and Marsh Wrens. Most sparrows you find will be Song and Swamp Sparrows, but a few Savannah may be here, and there will be White-throated Sparrows as well. Swamp Sparrows tend to be closer to the marshy area behind the parking lot, and a few Field Sparrows may pop up anywhere as well. A nice treat here are somewhat reliable wintering Fox Sparrows (red type). The best spot seems to be an area in the field south of the parking lot (downstream), past a large group gazebo. Continue to the edge of the field where saplings are starting to grow near the woods and you may get one to pop up by "pishing" (PHOTO 3). The north field at the end of the trail along the river has similar habitat and may host a few Fox Sparrows as well. Another special bird for this area is American Woodcock. You can enjoy their "peent" calls and twittering aerial displays from the brushy fields as it gets dark from late January through early March, though clear views are generally not possible due to low lighting conditions (which is the case for woodcock observation in general).
  PHOTO 1             PHOTO 2              PHOTO 3
Text and Photos by KB

 c) Johnson Ferry North Unit      [Aug 2007]       
PM, late F-W for sparrows
[DeLorme pg. 20, G-3]
This area is located directly on the east side of Johnson Ferry Rd at its intersection with Columns Drive (see directions above). The parking lot is very popular with cyclists who bike on Columns Drive, but you can usually find a spot. This Unit features more of the same type of birding as the two mentioned above in this section: a mix of an open scrubby field, low wet areas, and hardwood-dominated riparian forest along the Chattahoochee River. There is a wet area dominated by willows adjacent to the parking lot which may have Yellow Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, and Louisiana or Northern Waterthrush in migration. As you begin down the gravel trail, you'll pass through a wet weedy field with an old park service building to your right. In winter, the field will host Song and Swamp Sparrow, with a few White-throated and Field Sparrows closer to its edge with the woods as well. In October-early November, you may be lucky enough to find a Henslow's Sparrow or Sedge Wren here, but the chances are better at Cochran Shoals. You can walk behind the building to get a view on the river for waterfowl, and to bird a strip of deciduous trees along the bank for migrant flocks. Back in the field at its east end, you'll find an area of dead pine snags with a large beaver swamp at their base. They are home to a group of Red-headed Woodpeckers, and if you're very lucky you may find an Olive-sided Flycatcher at the pinnacle of a snag in migration. This area is also good for White-breasted Nuthatch and other woodpeckers, Common Yellowthroat, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, waterthrush, and more. You can explore the trails in the area looking for flocks of migrants and other birds mentioned in the previous two Units.

 5) Heron Rookery          [July 2006]
late Sp-Su
[DeLorme pg. 19, F-9]
This area regularly hosts nesting Great Blue Herons, and a few immature White Ibis showed up, June-July 2006; Wood Duck, Kentucky Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Great-crested Flycatcher may also be encountered. A rare Mourning Warbler made a one-day appearance in spring 2007. Start out from Hwy 41, between its intersections with Acworth Due West Rd and Hwy 92 (where it is called Lake Acworth Rd). Go SW on Mars Hill Road from US 41 for 1.5 miles to County Line Road and turn right. After 0.8 miles you will see Old Stilesboro Rd on the right, turn here. The marsh is 0.4 miles down on the left. There is a gravel parking area for hunters on the right before you get to the marsh. Park there and walk down the road and you will see the nests in the tree tops on your left. Scan the swamp for herons, ibis, and egrets. Be careful - folks drive fast and there is a blind curve near the swamp.

 5) Cobb International Blvd Area                    [Dec 2007]                  
W for waterfowl, PM
[DeLorme pg. 20, G-1]
Worth checking in winter (ducks) and migration, this marginal habitat still represents an interesting mix of marshy areas and lakes in the middle of ugly suburban sprawl. Pied-billed Grebe, Ringed-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, Palm Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Wilson's Snipe, sparrows, etc. Start by heading SW on Cobb International Blvd, from Hwy 41 near McCollum Airport (if you are coming west on Chastain Rd., you actually go straight across Hwy 41 and you're on this road). You'll see a lake on your right after 0.5 mile; pass it and turn right on Battle Dr. (just after a postal service building). Turn right at the 2nd driveway and park behind that building by a row of bushes - the lake is directly behind them and there is good access and good habitat as well - marsh grass, wet areas, scrub, willows, and some deciduous and pine trees (PHOTOS 1 & 2). There are usually Brown-headed Nuthatches and Pine Warblers in the pines, who are often joined by Golden-crowned Kinglets in winter.  It is private property, but I've never been approached by anyone and locals fish on the lake all the time so apparently access is not an issue with the businesses on the lake; still, I would be wary of anyone in the area - employees or other folks using the lake - and be ready to leave if need be. Go back to Hwy 41 and turn right. In less than a mile, you will turn right at the first light onto Ellison Lakes Rd, a residential area made up of townhomes and apartments. After turning right, take the first immediate left onto Lake Heights Cir and continue through a sharp right, then left curve until you get to the end of the road and a parking lot at the pool for the townhomes. From here you can scan a nice marshy area (PHOTO 3) which has hosted neat winter waterfowl like  Northern Shoveler and Hooded Merganser, along with lots of sparrows (Swamp, Field, White-throated) and House Wrens. You might try clapping or tapes to see if any rails respond... I think it looks good for them, but the area may be too built up with less and less cattails and more reeds and underbrush filling it up all the time (a Sora did respond in winter 2006, and a last-minute Virginia Rail on the 2007 CBC after dark). Return Ellison Lakes Rd, and turn left. Soon you will see a lake on the left (PHOTO 4). You can scan from your car for waterfowl, but be considerate of local traffic and if you are causing a problem, just move on and try to scan some more after you turn around and come back. Kennesaw Mountain is right down the road, so you could briefly cruise this area in combination with a trip to the mountain.
   PHOTO 1       PHOTO 2        PHOTO 3        PHOTO 4
Photos and text by KB.

 1) Reed Creek Park               [N/A]                      

[DeLorme pg. 31, E-6]
Wet and dry habitat migrants, near Savannah River; Mississippi Kite, Waterthrushes, etc. Reed Creek Park is a fairly small (15 acre) fairly new (March 2005) park in southern Columbia County (i.e. suburban Augusta.) Although it contains some drier habitat, access is essentially limited to a small, well built boardwalk through swamp habitat (which makes up most of the park.) It would probably take about five minutes to cover the boardwalk if you were walking at a brisk pace, but it's better to take things more slowly. From I-20 (east of Atlanta) get off at Washington Rd/Hwy 28 (Exit 199) and head west. Split right onto Furys Ferry Rd (Hwy 28), and in about 1 mile look for West Lake Country Club on the right. The park is directly across the street on the left, turn left on Park Lane and go to the end and park.

 2) J. Strom Thurmond Lake              [Oct 2006]
W for waterfowl and gulls
[DeLorme pg. 30]

Birding sites needed!

 1) Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve               [May 2008]                
PM, late W

[DeLorme pg. 26, A-4]
Like the next area, this is a neat greenspace in the metro area that has a nice variety of habitat and attracts many interesting migrants and a few cool breeding species as well. It is known for American Woodcock displays in Jan-Feb; has hosted American Bittern several winters. Barred Owls can be seen at dusk while waiting for the Woodcocks to display. Other good migrants and breeders like Veery, Swainson's Thrush, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded Warbler, Kentuckey Warbler, Yellow Warbler, and Blue-winged Warbler have been seen. Other warblers seen here include Magnolia, Palm, Black-throated Blue, and Wilson's. Swainson's Warblers were heard singing in April 2007.  Interesting sparrows may also be seen in winter - Fox Sparrow (Nov 2006), Field Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, and Dark-eyed Juncos have been observed. From I-285 N or S: Take highway 78, Stone Mt. Freeway exit west toward Decatur for a total of 2.1 miles. Just past a gas station, turn right onto Harrington Rd. Continue through a residiential area for 0.5 miles to a stop sign with Wood Trail Lane and turn right. Continue just 0.2 miles to Preserve entrance (PHOTO 1). I usually start by walking the trail to the left where there is a landscaping storage shed (PHOTO 2). You will come through an area of dense Chinese privet which may be good for lower-relating species mentioned above. Soon you'll come to a nice observation platform where you can view the pond and marshy area (PHOTO 3). This is the area where American Bittern is sometimes seen in winter, and you may see several swallow species in migration or migrating sandpipers in the mud if the water is down. Continue down the boardwalk around the pond where you will get another view of the pond at a raised observation chair. Just beyond this point you'll enter a bottomland area with willows, deciduous trees, and wet ground - a new boardwalk was recently built here (PHOTO 4). Keep birding and you'll come into a stand of young pines with an outdoor classroom and benches (PHOTO 5). Turn left here and whenever you see a trail head off to the left ignore it and bear right. This will bring you to the nicely-named "Sewer Cut Trail" (PHOTO 6), which goes in both directions along a creek (PHOTO 7) - you may encounter some unfortunate smells here as well as birds. By turning left, you will come around the other side of the pond into a neat area of thick bamboo and then Chinese privet - this is the area where Swainson's Warbler was heard in spring 2007. Soon the forest becomes mostly deciduous trees, with many older tulip poplars and a few oaks that may attract interesting migrating warblers, vireos, and thrushes. When you see a trail split off to your left, take it and you will arrive back at the street where you parked and you can walk on the pavement back to your vehicle. If you continue straight back at the outdoor classroom, you can bear right at any forks and you'll come through more privet-choked deciduous trees until you arrive back at the main entrance. Visit the preserve's website.
 PHOTO 1        PHOTO 2      PHOTO 3        PHOTO 4        PHOTO 5        PHOTO 6    PHOTO 7
Text by KB; photos by KB & RC

 2) Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve              [August 2008]           

[DeLorme pg. 26, C-5]
This is an interesting metro Atlanta birding spot which is most productive during prime-time passerine migration. Aside from birding opportunities, this is a very unique and interesting area to explore, with vast areas of exposed granite and bald peaks which were once quarried for stone, and may remind many visitors of a smaller version of Stone Mountain! From I-20 heading east from the perimeter (I-285), get off at Exit 74 for Evans Mill Rd. Be attentive - recent construction in this area (not shown on many maps) has created a frontage road that will take you off the highway, then through a light with Lithonia Industrial Blvd, past another smaller road, and finally you will need to keep left when you see a ramp split off to the right. At the next light, turn right onto Evans Mill Rd; almost immediately you will come to a light with Mall Blvdto your left and Evans Mill Rd heading off to your right. Go STRAIGHT, which will put you onto Woodrow Dr. In 0.9 miles you will deadend into Klondike Rd. Turn right, and in just 0.2 miles take note of a large area of fields and an old farm building to your right, mentioned later. After 1.1 miles, turn right into the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve visitor's center and park (PHOTO 1). Pick up an area map, then head out onto the shared concrete bicycle, skating, and pedestrian PATH behind the visitor’s center (PHOTO 2). You can use this path to access and bird a great deal of the property including islands of pine-oak woods in the granite areas along with bottomland habitat dominated by deciduous trees along Stephenson Creek and a pond that once served the quarry operations. Hiking-only trails can also take visitors across the vast and impressive granite outcroppings while you enjoy the area – the unique geology and related ecosystems and plants makes the area very cool to experience aside from finding a few interesting birds (PHOTOS 3-5). There are many information signs throughout the property to educate visitors, while cairns (stone markers) mark the path across the impressive expanses of stone (PHOTO 6). The area features many pine-dominated patches along the granite slopes, with a scrubby oak understory. A healthy resident population of Pine Warblers and Brown-headed Nuthatches can often be found foraging in the pines and can be very vocal. Other typical breeding birds include Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinal, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Phoebe, Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, American Goldfinch, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Belted Kingfisher (at Arabia Lake – PHOTO 7). During migration in spring and fall, any number of interesting neotropical migrants may show up in mixed forest areas including Black-and-white Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, American Redstart, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Summer Tanager, Magnolia Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Red-eyed and Blue-headed Vireo, Eastern Wood Pewee, thrushes, flycatchers, and more. Exactly 1.0 miles further on Klondike Rd from the Nature Center, another small parking area on the opposite side of the road provides access to more beautiful views and unique environments as you climb trails across exposed granite and among stands of pine-oak woods to an impressive vista from the top of Bradley Peak and Arabia Peak, depending on how much hiking you’re up for! The farm you passed earlier on Klondike Rd, Vaughters Farm, also offers some interesting birding (PHOTO 8). Species like Yellow-breasted Chat, Prairie Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, White-eyed Vireo, Indigo Bunting, swallows, and more may be found in the scrubby edge habitat and in the fields, and the surrounding hardwood forest may hold other migrants. The only drawback is that there is no parking adjacent to the farm area. Birders must park at the Nature Center and then get some exercise by hiking or biking the concrete PATH over to this very large piece of protected property that was once Dekalb County's last operating dairy farm. A little background on the entire area... In 1997, the Nature Conservancy started working along with local entities to assemble a new park in DeKalb County near Lithonia. They started with two existing parks, Davidson-Arabia County Park to the north and Panola Mountain State Park to the south. The idea was to connect them and create a mega park close to the city. Long story short, the two are now connected and around 4,000 acres are protected. They are still actively working on getting more land protected and are aiming for 7,500 acres including the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. Read much more about the area at www.ArabiaAlliance.org
 PHOTO 1         PHOTO 2         PHOTO 3        PHOTO 4       PHOTO 5   PHOTO 6     PHOTO 7
Photos by KB; Text by Pierre Howard and KB.

 1) Sweetwater Creek State Park            [Aug 2007]                 
PM, W for waterfowl
[DeLorme pg. 25, B-10]
See Beaton's Birding Georgia.

 1) Elbert WMA-Pickens Tract                [N/A] 
[DeLorme pg. 23, D-9]
More information needed. The Elbert WMA-Pickens Tract is notated by the "ECWMA" near the top of the grid at the end of Grey Shoals Rd. (so it says in the printed DeLorme... the sign may actually say Greg Shoals Rd., and DeLorme software notes the road as Greg Shoals as well). Birds seen mid-October 2006 include Black-throated Blue and Black-throated Green Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, and Magnolia Warbler.

 1) Lake Horton                         [Jan 2007]
W for waterfowl, PM
See Beaton's Birding Georgia.
[DeLorme: pg. 26, H-2]
The directions and description in Birding Georgia are very accurate. Since the publication of Beaton's book, there is now a required fee of $10 to enter the park. It is not a parking fee, nor a fishing fee - it is just... a fee. Obviously, this is frustrating for birders who may be there as few as 15 minutes or over an hour. Some birders have reported "risking it" and birding only from their car while darting around the parking areas... I can't endorse this, but $10 sure is a lot of money to pay for such light use. Fayette County residents need not pay the fee. See Beaton's book for details on a couple vantage points you can get of the lake without entering the fee area. The problem is, it seems like the majority of the ducks in recent years primarily like congregating in the eastern arm of the lake (PHOTO 1), which is not clearly visible anywhere as well as it is from inside the fee area. After you enter the fee area, note a road to your right, then park at the first available parking lot on your left. From here, you can walk around the edge of the eastern side of the lake through a powerline cut to view the upper portion of this arm of the lake and the eastern part of the main body of the lake. When finished here, drive to the end of Antioch Rd and park. Scan the deep portion of the lake along the dam for Horned Grebe, Common Loons, or gulls (PHOTO 2). Turn around and head back the way you came. Just before leaving the fee area, take a left on the road you saw earlier. This will take you around to a boat ramp and a good view of the western part of the main body of the lake. A little walking around will provide views up into the shallower western arm, where a pair of Mute Swans has taken up residence since 2005. The lake hosted Georgia's only record Yellow-billed Loon 2003-2004. Recent interesting birds (since 2006) include Redheads, Hooded Merganser, Lesser Scaup, Common Loon, Northern Pintail, Ruddy Duck, Ring-necked Duck, American Pipit, and Horned Grebe.
Text and photos by KB.

 1) American Proteins settling ponds                    [May 2007]
SBM (See note)
[DeLorme pg. 21, C-6]
Go North on GA 400 and get off at Exit 17, GA Hwy 306 (Keith Bridge Rd). Turn right (east) on GA 306 towards Gainsville, and continue a total of 3.1 miles (go through a major light with GA Hwy 369 along the way). At 2.9 miles from GA 400, start to look closely for a sign that says "American Proteins" on your left, and turn left on Leland Dr. The settling ponds are 0.5 miles down the road on the left hand side. Be mindful of the warning signs. This is a busy road, make sure to pull well off the road. You'll need a scope to identify shorebirds, waders, or waterfowl that are far off the road. You WILL smell some very unpleasant odors in this area, so be prepared. NOTE: It is important that cameras are strictly forbidden here and if the security folks don't recognize you or your car, you will probably be approached. Just be pleasant and let them know you are a birdwatcher and you shouldn't have any problems. American Golden Plover mid-Sept 2006; White-rumped Sandpiper fairly reliable in spring, Semi-palmated Plover, Solitary Sandpiper, both Yellowlegs, peeps, breeding Mallard and Wood Duck, and several other migrating shorebirds.

 2) Buford Fish Hatchery                [May 2007]

[DeLorme pg. 21, E-6]
Another nice area for a walk during migration along the Chattahoochee River. Migrant and breeding pecies seen since May 2006 include Kentucky Warbler, Green Heron, Wood Duck, White-eyed Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Purple Martin, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Wood Thrush, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded Warbler, Indigo Bunting, and Blue Grosbeak. In May 2007, both a rare Connecticut Warbler and a Warbling Vireo were found. From the intersection of GA 400 and GA Hwy 20 south of Cumming, go east 3.9 miles on GA Hwy 20. Turn left here into the Chattahoochee River Subdivision (onto River Club Dr) and continue 0.5 miles to Trout Place Rd. Turn right on Trout Place Road and follow it into the hatchery (PHOTO 1); open hours are 7:30am-4:30pm. The river bank is forested with walnut, birch, oak, and tulip poplar trees. The tangled understory along the river at this site and others along the Chattahoochee are the best areas to listen for Connecticut Warblers from mid to late May. The hatchery grounds include old fields, a fishing pond, and constructed raceways for rearing trout (PHOTOS 2 & 3). Just south of the trout raceways is the trailhead of the Lincoln's Sparrow Trail (PHOTO 4) in an area of young pines. This is a short loop trail, with a small sign showing the simple route (PHOTO 5). The trail goes through an area of pines and deciduous trees with a few open areas (PHOTO 6) before breaking out into an open area where the kids fishing pond is located (PHOTO 7); this is where the WAVI was found. There is an active Purple Martin colony here as well (PHOTO 8). Kentucky Warblers breed in the surrounding low thickets in the woods, and Connecticut Warbler may be found closer to the river in mid-late May. Along with the birding, this is an excellent opportunity to see thousands of young rainbow and brown trout (and a few token broodstock brook trout) being raised for release into the trout streams of the North Georgia mountains, and into the Chattahoochee itself. You can usually toss a handful of trout chow from a bucket into the raceways to produce a feeding frenzy. A lesser-known phenomena in this tailrace section of the Chattahoochee River (close to Buford Dam, which forms Lake Lanier), is that there is a reproducing population of Brown Trout. Seasoned fly fishermen from the Atlanta area (AKA "Hooch Rats") have learned that the best fishing is to be had by using float tubes to access stretches of the river between the various recreation areas, which are also stocking points and thus usually have more fish (but they are mostly "stockers") and there are certainly more people. You may catch more "hold-overs," which are stockers that have survived one or more season and tend to be larger, and of course more stream-bred fish, by using this method. Just get a fishing buddy, park your vehicles at either end of your float and have a blast. You should wear neoprene waders or several layers underneath light-weight waders because the water is extremely cold. Unfortunately for us warm-blooded types, this is why the trout like it so much. You must wear a personal flotation device when fishing the river upstream of the GA 400 overpass. Also, you will need to call the hotline to see if they are releasing water to generate electricity, when you are forbidden to fish the river and it can be downright dangerous even to be close to the edge - (770) 945-1466. Read more about the hatchery and stocking program.

  PHOTO 1         PHOTO 2          PHOTO 3            PHOTO 4         PHOTO 5       PHOTO 6      PHOTO 7     PHOTO 8
Text and photos by KB.

 3) Coal Mountain Rd Pond                   [N/A] 
W for waterfowl
[DeLorme: p. 21, grid C-6]
Wintering waterfowl; Bufflehead, American Wigeon, etc.; has hosted Snow Goose on more than one occasion in recent years. Take GA 400 north to GA 369 (first light on GA 400 north bound); turn left (west) on GA 369 to GA 9 (first light); right (north) on GA 9 a short distance to Coal Mountain Dr. The pond is on the northwest corner of GA 9 and Coal Mountain Dr. This is private property; you'll need to scope the lake from the road.


4) Ivy Manor Nature Preserve        [N/A]
PM, Jan-Feb for Woodcocks
[DeLorme pg. 20, D-4]
This preserve is a 10 acre track of land left undeveloped within the Ivey Manor subdivision. It consists of mixed deciduous vegetation, with a few pines, bordering a small creek. Due to the small size, there is never an abundance of birds in either diversity or sheer numbers. However, there always seems to be something different (especially during migration), and some really surprising birds have shown up (with the best being an Alder Flycatcher in May, 2007).
In terms of birds breeding in the refuge, in addition to the common ones (cardinals, chickadees, etc) the following either definitely or probably breed there: White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos; Wood Thrush; Hooded and Kentucky Warblers. Over winter you can find Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, and sparrows such as Song, Swamp, White-throated, White-crowned (one record), and Fox. The Fox’s can sometimes be seen foraging on the paths. A pair of Barred Owls is also resident in the neighborhood and you have a good chance of hearing them, and even seeing them (usually flying away as you unknowingly flush them from their roost). American Woodcocks are likely resident and breeding, but you have to be extremely lucky to see one unless you come during evenings in February when they perform their display flights. In 2007, at least one male used a clearing in the middle of the preserve as his display site. During spring and fall, just about any land bird that migrates through the state is possible. Of the just over 100 species recorded here, a surprising 31 of them are warblers, including Blue-winged, Cerulean (only one), Canada, Prothonotary (once), Wilson’s (one), and Yellow-breasted Chat. However, you’re unlikely to see more than 6 species of warblers on any given visit. Other regularly seen migrants are Yellow-billed Cuckoo, thrushes (Swainson’s, Gray-cheeked, Veery), Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanagers, and Baltimore Orioles. During the last week of September Philadelphia Vireos are likely. Fall is also a good time for empidonax flycatchers, including Acadian, Yellow-bellied and Least. Directions: Take GA 400 North to exit 12b McFarland Rd West. Continue 1.3 miles, and turn right onto Union Hill Rd. Next, at a light, turn left on Mullinax Rd. In another 2.1 miles you will cross GA Hwy 9. You are now on Post Rd, and 2.8 miles after crossing GA Hwy 9, turn left on Bentley Rd. Continue one mile, then turn right into Ivey Manor Subdivision. Go through one stop sign, then turn right on the first road (Brook Mill Way) after the stop sign. Immediately on the left will be a small gravel parking lot with a "Blue Heron Nature Preserve" sign. In Google Maps the approximate spot to get directions to would be "34.197907,-84.23707". After parking, take the gravel path to the left from the parking lot. This path goes downhill, paralleling the main road until turning right into the preserve. The main trail will dead-end at a creek in about 100 yards. The only side-trail leading to the left will rejoin the main trail after a short distance. The first trail to the right is a short dead-end. The second to the right will meet up with the main trail at the end. Access: The only posted restrictions state foot traffic only. As far as I know, non-residents are welcome to use the preserve.
Text by Grant McCreary.







Need birding sites!

1) Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (Cobb and Fulton Counties)
See Beaton's Birding Georgia.

 a) Jones Bridge Unit / Geosphere Environmental Education Center            [July 2008]
[DeLorme pg. 20, G-4]
Another nice area for a birdwatching walk along the river, and a major benefit here is that trails are very well signed with accurate maps at every trail intersection (PHOTO 1); the edited photo of one of the maps below shows a nice walk that Rachel and I enjoy (in purple) which takes you through a mix of habitats including low, wet scrubby areas along the river, upland areas with pines and deciduous trees, and some open habitat (green-shaded areas). From GA 400, get off at Holcomb Bridge Rd (Exit 7) and head east for just over 4 miles until you come to Barnwell Rd on your left (there is a light). Turn left, and in less than a mile note a large gravel pull-off on the right; it was legal at one time to park here and walk in but now it is signed so don't try it. Soon after this, you will see a large brown sign marking the Geosphere Environmental Education Center. Pass the center, and in about a mile look for a large brown sign marking the Jones Bridge Unit on the right (PHOTO 2) - turn here. Continue past a boat ramp and park down the street; bird your way along the trail on the river back to the boat ramp (PHOTO 3), which offers a nice view on the river for swallows or waterfowl. From the boat ramp, continue downstream on the trail (PHOTO 4) and eventually you can use any combination of trails you like to form a loop down into the area of the Environmental Education Cente, including views of two small ponds (PHOTO 8); a pair of Barred Owls lives in this area and may even call during the day. Near the center building, you will find yourself in a nice mixed area of open grassy fields and deciduous trees, with pines near the buildings. You'll also find many signs so you can orient yourself and decide on a route through the property. The open habitat nearest the building (PHOTO 5) is a good area for neotropical migrants like wood warblers, vireos, tanagers, cuckoos, etc. Continuing down the trail from the building along the west side of the field, you will notice a path that intersects from your right. You can bird down this path a little ways into a deciduous tree dominated area, then return the way you came and turn right. Soon you will enter the woods in a large clearing with a few oaks and a picnic table. Look for flycatchers in this area, especially in fall migration - check those Empidonax species carefully. The trail curves to the left and soon you will enter some open lowland woods (PHOTO 6), and a couple creeks. Acadian Flycatchers nest in this area, and you may have waterthrushes along the creek in migration. There are many trails you can take to form a route back up to the main trail that returns to Jones Bridge. Listen for noisy chickadees and titmice alerting you to the presence of a feeding flock of migrants. The scrubbier thickets along the river have produced Blue-winged and Hooded Warblers, and you may also see Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, American Redstart, and other warblers along with Yellow-throated, White and Red-eyed Vireos, Swainson's Thrushes, flycatchers, etc. The tangled understory along the river at this site and others along the Chattahoochee are the best areas to listen for Connecticut Warblers from mid to late May (PHOTO 7). Breeding birds include Kentucky Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher, Pine Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-eyed Vireo, etc.  This is also another very popular spot for Atlanta area trout fishermen. It will be mostly stocked rainbows with a few stocked browns, but since this tailrace section is still pretty close to Buford Dam, the water is very cold year-round and there are hold-overs and a few stream-bred brown trout to be had. To read more about trout in the Chattahoochee River, see the section on the Buford Fish Hatchery, Forsyth County.
 PHOTO 1      PHOTO 2        PHOTO 3       PHOTO 4     PHOTO 5       PHOTO 6    PHOTO 7      PHOTO 8
Text and photos by KB; map by National Park Service, edited by KB.

 1) Watson Spring                    [N/A]
PM, late Sp-Su for breeding birds

See Beaton's Birding Georgia.

 2) Dyar Pasture WMA (Greene and Morgan Counties)            [Aug 2006]
late Su-W

See Beaton's Birding Georgia.
[DeLorme pg. 28, D-3, 4 and E-3, 4]

1) Little Mulberry Park             [N/A]              
PM, May-June for breeding birds

Text by Brandon Best
[DeLorme pg. 21, F-8]
Little Mulberry Park is an 890 acre passive recreation park located in northeastern Gwinnett County a few miles off I-85, operated by Gwinnett County.  It ranges in elevation from about 900 feet around Miller Lake on the north end to 1210 feet at the West Meadow on the south end, one of the highest points in Gwinnett County.  Much of the park is accessed by wide paved paths, making it suitable for birders of all physical abilities.   The rest of the park is accessed by well-maintained dirt trails.  While this park is heavily used by runners, walkers, bikers and dog walkers, it offers great birding potential.  After one year of regular observation, the author has developed a list of nearly 140 species for the park.  The avifauna found here is typical of the park’s habitat types and Piedmont location.

There are two parking lots available, one off Hog Mtn Rd and one off Fence Rd.  Both are suitable options depending on one’s birding strategy.  From I-85, take Exit 120 (Hamilton Mill Rd). Coming from Atlanta, turn right onto Hamilton Mill, and going towards Atlanta turn left so you cross back over the interstate. Go through the traffic light at Braselton Hwy/GA Hwy 124 and from that light continue approx 1.8 miles to Hog Mountain Rd. Turn left to head east and go approx 1.3 miles to the parking lot on the right side of the road. This is the north parking lot for the park. To reach the south parking lot, return to Hog Mtn Rd and continue east for 0.6 miles to Mineral Springs Rd. Turn right to head south and go 1.7 miles to Clack Rd. Turn right on Clack Rd and go 0.4 miles to Fence Rd. Turn right/west on Fence Rd and go 0.75 miles to the park entrance on the right side of the road.

There are several habitats found in the park.  The primary habitat is second growth forest of mostly deciduous trees with scattered loblolly pine, though there are patches of white pine as well.  Other habitats include the open water of Miller Lake and a smaller pond on the park’s south side, weedy and marshy habitats around the edges of the water and at mouths of creeks, open meadows and savannah, forest edges, and some early successional forest growth.  There are trails which cover all these habitat types, however the trails you focus on will change with the seasons.  Each is described below.  Viewing this MAP may help in understanding the trails.

Miller Trail Loop- this 2.2 mile wide paved path loops around Miller Lake, and is most easily accessed from the Hog Mtn Rd parking area.  A trip around the lake is good at any time of year, but is most interesting in the winter months.  Coming down the trail from the restrooms to the loop, Pine Warblers and Brown-headed Nuthatch can often be found in the pines.  There are several fishing docks around the lake which provide great views of the water.  Many small creeks drain into the lake, at each one there’s a small swampy marsh.  During summer, each one holds one or two singing Common Yellowthroats.  Song, Swamp, and White-throated Sparrows are legion in the winter, along both kinglets and a few Savannah Sparrows in appropriate habitat.  The willow thicket on the lake’s NE side also hosted Purple Finches during winter 2007.  The peninsula covered with white pines (the area blocked by a fence beyond the picnic area) hosts a Great Blue Heron rookery of about a dozen nests in spring and early summer.

Carriage Trail - this 0.66 mile trail (also wide and paved) begins on the backside of the Miller Loop Trail and connects to the south side of the park.  The willow trees and scrubby thicket found at this intersection are usually worth spending a few minutes at.  From MLT, it is a solid uphill slog that will give you some exercise!  The trail passes through interior forest, generally unexciting, but in the breeding season, one can hear Red-eyed Vireo and Ovenbird singing, which are surprisingly common in the park during this season.  This trail’s intersection with the East Meadow Trail can provide interesting birding.

East Meadow Trail - if one continues straight from the Carriage Trail, this will connect to the West Meadow Trail.  Turning left will take you around the bulk of the East Meadow Trail, which passes through some meadow and savannah habitat.  However, there are more interesting sections of the park to bird, so check this area out only if you have lots of time or are just looking for a new section of the park to see.  Where the East Meadow and West Meadow Trails meet can be very good in the spring for neotropical migrants.  The birds will be in the very tops of very tall trees though!

West Meadow Trail - this trail also passes through meadow and savannah habitat.  This is the best spot in the park to see raptors soaring, and Eastern Meadowlarks can be found here in winter, Palm Warblers can be found in thick numbers in the tree rows in spring.  From the northwest corner of the meadow, and the highest point in the park, one has a fantastic view to the north.  The mountains of north Georgia are visible on clear days.  By walking downhill from this point, many birds can be found in the brushy scrub at various seasons.  There’s a large patch of Virginia Creeper which is very popular when the berries ripen in the fall.


Pond Trail - this trail goes around the small pond just off Fence Rd.  This pond holds several Hooded Mergansers in the winter, and a Belted Kingfisher can usually be found.  The weedy areas around and below the pond are worth exploring.  There are a couple of black gums adjacent to the playground which can be very attractive to thrushes and other birds when they are in fruit in the fall. 


Beech Tree Trail - The upper section of this trail is one of the best spots in the park in the spring.  From the trail head down to where the stone steps begin, this section should be worked over carefully, especially in the early spring when leaves are not yet out.  A number of warbler species were found here in spring 2008.


Ravine Loop Trail - This is a very pretty trail which passes through interior forest.  In the breeding season, one can hear Wood Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird, and occasionally Kentucky Warbler.  Along the creek, Louisiana Waterthrush and Acadian Flycatcher can be found.  In fall 2007, a great variety of thrush species were found along the creek. 


East Mulberry Trail - the best way to access this trail is to return to the great overlook spot on the West Meadow Trail.  From there, proceed downhill.  With a little bushwacking through the tall grass (along an unmaintained maintenance track), you drop down onto the East Mulberry Trail.  From there, turn left to return downhill to the Miller Lake Loop.  The upper sections of this trail hosted groups of Purple Finches in winter 2007.  However, the most interesting parts of this trail are found between trail markers 28 to 30.  Here the canopy is more open, and migrants can often be found here here.  In spring 2008 this included Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Blackburnian & Black-throated Blue Warblers.  For purposes of seeing the birds, it easier to hike down this trail towards Miller Lake rather than uphill.


Strategies for birding the park - The best birding occurs in the first couple hours after sunrise.  This park is large and getting from one area to another takes valuable time, so getting the best birding experience requires being in the right place at the right time.  Another consideration is how much time you have available.  A thorough covering of the park can take 4-5 hours.

Visit the
park website.

 1) Chicopee Lake / Elachee Nature Science Center            [Jan 2007]
PM, W for waterfowl
[DeLorme pg. 21, C-8]
Many trails in the area can be used to create a short or long loop. The West Lake and East Lake Trails can be used to make a good longer hike, which would be particularly nice in migration. Chicopee Lake is at the southern end of this trail if you are hiking from the Nature Center (PHOTO 4); it is about a 5.5 mile loop and takes your through nice mixed forest and creeks - great for migrants. In winter, you may wish to make a quicker stop and just park directly at Chicopee Lake (PHOTOS 2 & 3) for waterfowl, and make a short hike or loop through the surrounding woods for a winter flock; pick up a map at the Nature Center to make your way over to this area via several surface streets. Recent interesting birds seen here (2006)  include Gadwall, American Black Duck (reliable), Green-winged Teal, Winter Wren, Brown Creeper, Yellow Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Orchard Oriole. Located at 2125 Elachee Drive Gainesville, Georgia 30504 Tel 770.535.1976; From Atlanta on I-85: I-85 N to I-985 toward Gainesville. Take Exit 16 – Oakwood. Turn left off the ramp and go under the highway. Take a right at the light onto Frontage Rd. and go to the end of the road. Turn left onto Atlanta Hwy. (Hwy 13). Pass the Chicopee Woods Golf Course Club House on the right. Elachee Drive is the next street to the right; it would help to start looking off the road to the right for the large sign (PHOTO 1). The actual turn is at either 1st St or G Ave, and then you make an immediate sharp right to head down Elachee Dr., through the golf course to the nature center. Visit the
website for a map of trails and more information.
  PHOTO 1           PHOTO 2           PHOTO 3         PHOTO 4
Text and photos by KB

Need birding sites!

Need birding sites!

 1) West Point Dam (Harris and Troup Counties)              [Oct 2008]               
mid F-mid Sp

See Beaton's Birding Georgia.
[DeLorme pg. 24, E-2 and F-2]
From I-85, get off at Exit 2 (GA Hwy 18) and head west on Hwy 18 for 1.4 miles. Turn right onto US Hwy 29 / GA Hwy 14 and go north for 3.4 miles and turn left at a sign for the lake (PHOTO 1). At 0.3 and 0.7 miles there are day-use areas where you can get views of coves on the lake and the main body of the lake. At 2.0 miles, turn right just before crossing the dam and park in an area where you can scope the main body of the lake and a boom in front of the dam (PHOTO 2) or you can walk out on the dam to view other parts of the lake and the spillway below, which can be great for gulls, waterfowl, and waders (PHOTOS 3-5). One of Georgia's largest reservoirs, it is worth checking in just about any season for gulls, terns, and waterfowl but is especially productive from fall through spring. One interesting phenomena that has been occurring here off-and-on since 2005 is the appearance of a large flock of American White Pelicans that roosts on the lake in fall or winter. They are generally seen at dusk or dawn, and in November 2006 a group of up to 200 individuals was observed! Beaton's book provides a very accurate description of the birding on and around the dam as well. Interesting species seen in recent years include Franklin's Gull, Common Goldeneye, Red-throated Loon, Red-breasted Merganser, Horned Grebe, Canvasback, Redhead, a Jaeger species (Sept 2006), and a first Georgia record Thayer's Gull (Nov 2004). You can continue over the dam for 1.0 miles from where you parked to scope earlier, turn left, then left again at a stop sign to park at the bottom of the dam for more views of the spillway and the river beyond. Typical breeding birds in the area while you scope the lake include Prairie Warbler, Pine Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Cliff Swallows, Indigo Bunting, Wood Thrush, Purple Martin, and Northern Bobwhite (usually heard, not seen).
 PHOTO 1        PHOTO 2          PHOTO 3         PHOTO 4        PHOTO 5
Text by KB; Photos by KB & RC.

 1) Hartwell Lake, Dam & Deep-water areas                 [N/A]
W for waterfowl, gulls

See Beaton's Birding Georgia.
[Delorme pg. 23, A & B-8]
Some updates and additional driving details since 2005... has hosted rarities like Black-legged Kittiwake (Nov 2006), Pacific Loon (Feb 2005), Long-tailed Jaeger (Sept 2005). Go east out of the town of Hartwell on US 29 and look for the Elrod Ferry Receation Area (US Corps of Engineers). Go to the gate, turn left, find the picnic area, face the dam and begin scanning the water. You can also scan the area from Long Point Recreation Area... First, if you have a GA DeLorme, refer to page 23, grid A & B-8. The tip of LPRA is just above the "2156" in the top center of grid B-8 (the LPRA itself is in grid A-8). From the town of Hartwell, take US 29 north (actually you are heading east) to Old 29 (there is a BP station on the northeast corner of US 29 and Old 29). There is also a light at this intersection. Take a left onto Old 29 and head northeast until you enter the LPRA. The road will then turn south after you enter the park. At this point, you have a couple of options. Good views can be had from the side of road just after the last speed bump before you hit the end of the park (which ends in a loop). Park in the small parking area on the west side of the road, just north of the speed bump, and walked 10 - 20 yards south of the speed bump to an open area on the east side of the road, which allows a pretty good scanning point of the lake, especially towards the dam, easily visible in the distance. You can also drive to the end of the park and scan the lake towards the dam. View a very
helpful map (including a graphic showing where the Pacific Loon was seen).

Birding sites needed!

 1) Scissor-tailed Flycatcher nesting site              [June 2007]                          
late Sp-early Su
[DeLorme pg. 26, G-5]
Since 2000, a pair of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers have been calling an electric tower in McDonough home, and successfully raising young! This is a roadside stop and is a quick venture from I-75 if you are on your way to/from other birding locales. If the birds are present in a particular year, they will be quite obvious with just a little patience waiting and walking on the road shoulder; it is NOT necessary to use any audio or pishing to see them so do not attempt these techniques under any circumstance. From exit 216 (southerly-most McDonough exit on I-75), proceed east on GA Hwy 155 for just 0.4 miles and turn on King's Mill Road on the right, with a large sign for the Midland Industrial Park (PHOTO 1). Turn right and continue to it's dead end into GA 42 after 1.4 miles. Turn left (north) on GA Hwy 42 for only 0.2 miles and turn right at the first road to continue following King's Mill Road. You'll notice a small pasture off to your left, then you will cross a power line cut in 0.25 miles, park on the right in a dirt pull-out. Notice across the road on your left where the first metal power line pole is located (PHOTO 2). The nest is usually located at the edge of one of the cross arms on the power line pole. Be very careful on the road as vehicles move through quickly. If you do not see the birds on the pole, you may find them hawking insects from low perches (even weeds) in the surrounding pasture but be very careful with traffic along the road. Do not leave the road shoulder, this is all private property. In the pine woods around the powerline cut where you parked you may encounter Yellow-throated Vireo, Indigo Bunting, or Pine Warbler while you wait to see the flycatchers.
  PHOTO 1       PHOTO 2
Text and photos by KB.

 2) Simpson Mill Rd / Luella Rd            [N/A]                  
late Sp-Su, PM
[DeLorme pg. 26, G-5]
Good area for Dickcissel (as recently as June 2007), Blue Grosbeak, Grasshopper Sparrow, good open habitat. To find Simpson Mill Road, leave I-75 at exit 218, Highway 20. Go approximately 2.5 miles west and turn left on Simpson Mill Road (Oakland Road is on the right). Simpson Mill is good for many open field birds (Grasshopper Sparrows are numerous). To get to Luella Road, continue on Simpson Mill, it dead ends at  Hampton/Locust Grove Road. Turn left, go approximately 2 miles,  turn right on Luella Road.

 3) Lake Spivey                    [N/A]                    
W for waterfowl and gulls

[DeLorme pg. 26, grid E-4]
The tricky part with this lake is that it is private and difficult to bird, as it is completely surrounded by private homes. A little piece of the lake may be viewed from Blackhall Rd., which runs between Walt Stephens Rd. and Jodeco Rd. However, there will be traffic, and if anyone asks you to leave be prepared to do so politely. From I-75 & GA 138 south of Atlanta, head west on GA 138 to Speer Rd., turn left (south), continue past the Walt Stephens Rd. intersection and continue to Lake Jodeco Rd. Turn right (west) on Lake Jodeco Rd. and look for Lake Spivey on the right. You can scan the lake from this area with a scope, but this is a busy road so use extreme caution. Bald Eagle, Bonaparte's Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Double-crested Cormorant; Red-necked Grebe Dec. 2006.

 1) Bear Creek Reservoir                    [Nov 2006]
W for waterfowl
[DeLorme, pg. 22 G-1, 2]
Interesting birds seen over 2005-2006 include Common Loon, Horned Grebe, White-winged Scoter, Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, American Wigeon, Bufflehead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, and Hooded Merganser. In fall (especially late fall), scan groups of American Coot and Ring-necked Duck carefully - both Surf Scoter (2003) and White-winged Scoter (Nov 2006) have shown up, but this would certainly be the exception, not the rule! Two areas offer views of the deeper portions of the lake. Unfortunately, on the upper shallow end most of the shoreline is private and good views cannot be had. Approach the reservoir from the north side of Athens, taking US 129 north from the Athens perimeter(Loop 10), then turn left onto GA Hwy 330 (the turn is about 6 miles from the perimeter). It's in Delorme on pg 22, lower left corner of grid F2, near the community marked "Attica". Once on 330 continue southwest. After crossing the Middle Oconee River, look for Savage Rd on the left. (this may be the first paved left after the river...) Drive down Savage Rd and you will come to the lake on the right. Stay on Savage Rd across the dam to the south side of the lake and park on the shoulder - if you can safely make a U-turn, there is a nice spot far off the road just in front of a taxidermy shop. Be sure you are not parked on the dam, and respect the private property along the road. You can walk back out onto the dam to scan the lake from safely beyond the guard rail on the opposite side of the road (PHOTO 1). Be careful crossing as traffic may be fast. A scope is virtually a must here - while some groups of ducks will be within binocular range, many will be spread across the lake and a bird that just "looks different" won't give you the view you need without 20-30x. Stay up near the road, do not walk down to the shoreline. Directly in front of you is a small island, and to your right is the no-access fenced area with reservoir operation structures and offices (PHOTO 2). Looking out across the lake, there's a long rocky berm on the far side. This is the other good viewing location, from the shoulder of GA 330. You can keep going just a little further on Savage Rd and turn right at the first stop sign onto Old Savage Rd, which will take you past a small inlet on the right (PHOTO 3). The road comes to a cul-de-sac, where you can park and see a little of the upper end of the lake through a chain-link fence. This is a residential area, so be polite and don't get in anyone's way. When you've scanned here, double back north across the dam on Savage Rd to GA 330 and turn left. Very soon you'll notice a small public fishing park on the left, which offers a view of a small arm of the lake (PHOTO 4). Less than half a mile further on GA 330, you will see the lake ahead of you to the left and the road swings sharply to the right. Just before this curve there is a wide pull-off on the left side of the road - you may wish to pass it and make a U-turn to park safely on the shoulder, as the curve makes for tricky visibility. This will be at one end of the long berm and a chain-link fence that runs along the edge of the lake (PHOTO 5). This site offers a little more view of the upper end and also the inlet to the left that is not visible from the dam (you saw it from the fishing area). Remember to respect all private property in this area and especially do not enter the fenced areas. So far (as of 2005) the only public park is the little fishing area mentioned above. The water authority has yet to announce whether they will have any other public access areas, and boating of any kind is prohibited for now. [An aside - this lake has been a hot topic in the fishing community for years. Such a large number of folks are chomping at the bit to be the first to hit that lake to see what years of light use have produced as far as large or good numbers of fish, that I hope there is a limit of how many boats can be out there at one time.]
   PHOTO 1         PHOTO 2         PHOTO 3           PHOTO 4         PHOTO 5
Text by Mark Freeman and KB; Photos by KB

 1) Ocmulgee River Trail on the Jasper/Monroe County Line          [N/A]
PM, late Sp-Su for breeding birds
[DeLorme pg. 34, B-3]
This area is great for migrants including warblers, tanagers, vireos, flycatchers, and thrushes. Good habitat for water-relating and low scrub species like Swainson's Warbler, Waterthrushes, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, etc.

 2) Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center and PFA (also Newton County)        [Feb 2008]                 

[DeLorme pg. 27, F-9]
From I-20 east of Atlanta, get off at Exit 98, and head south on GA Hwy 11 for 9.6 miles total (9.4 miles coming from points east) to the main entrance of the area on the left; there is a large stone sign here (PHOTO 1), and you'll also see signage for the area along I-20. Along the way, you'll pass through two stop signs (each with gas stations) and then pass through the small town of Mansfield, with a gas station, general store, and a couple small cafés. This is the closest spot for provisions during daylight hours; if you camp at Charlie Elliot you'll need to backtrack to one of the previous intersections for forgotten supplies after dark. Once you turn left onto the WMA, check in at the game kiosk if you plan to fish, and pick up a good local map here even if you aren't fishing. Continue on Marben Farms Rd from the kiosk, and note the multi-use trailhead on your right at 0.3 miles from Hwy 11. The parking area for this trail (PHOTO 2) is a great place to stake out displaying American Woodcocks at dusk from mid-January through February. At the first paved road on your right after the multi-use trailhead just 0.3 miles further, turn and head to the Nature Center. Park near the IBA kiosk and get a local checklist and a good detailed map of the
trails that you can pick up from the parking area. Take your time to bird around the parking lot and related roads, as flocks of migrants may be working the area in fall and spring. Look and listen for birds such as Pine Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Redstart, Worm-eating Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, or Blue-headed Vireo, Eastern Wood Pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, flycatchers, thrushes, and more. The Nature Center has lots of interesting exhibits and showcases the life of sportsman, naturalist, and conservationist Charlie Elliot, for whom the area is named - great for kids and adults alike when it is open. Use your map to orient yourself and follow the Clubhouse Trail, which will wind down and around a pond by the same name. The woods around this lake can be great for neotropical migrants in spring and fall, especially along an open area with large deciduous trees along the dam forming the lake (which gives out onto larger Lake Margery below). In this area, and in the surrounding open scrubby areas beyond the Brooke Ager Discovery Building, you may find species mentioned already mixing with scrub-relating birds such as Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, White-eyed Vireo, or (rarely) Blue-winged or Golden-winged Warbler. You can also scan the pond for waterfowl from a fishing dock (PHOTO 8); all the ponds on the property (especially larger ones) are worth a quick check on a winter visit for waterfowl. From here, you can continue birding across the road from the Brooke Ager Discovery Building, where there is a nice open area with a few mature oaks, a WMA check station, and restrooms. In this open area you may find common but interesting birds like Eastern Kingbird, Barn and Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Purple Martin, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Bluebird, Chipping Sparrow, etc. From here you can continue birding an area along the property's largest lakes - Margery and Bennett (PHOTOS 3 & 4), paying particular attention to stands of alder, willows, and a few larger oaks along the edge of the lakes in this vicinity. Head back to your vehicle and turn right back onto Marben Farms Rd from the visitor's center road. In 0.5 miles (1.1 miles total from Hwy 11), turn right at a stop sign onto Murder Creek Church Rd (PHOTO 5). In 0.5 miles you'll notice the entrance to the campground on your left (details later), and then you'll come into the area of the Brooke Ager Building mentioned earlier; you could simply drive straight to this area to bird, but you might miss a lot of birds around the visitor's center and the trail down around Clubhouse Lake - use your best judgement. Continue between Lakes Bennett and Margery, and you'll gain elevation into the woods and eventually reach another large impoundment - Lake Fox - on your right. Park here and bird the scrubby habitat around the lake. You may find Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Kingbird, and various swallows relating to the lake, and Osprey breed here almost every season. In wet areas and along creeks here and at other locations on the property, look and listen for both Northern and Louisiana Waterthrush or Acadian Flycatcher - the latter two species breed here. From here, turn right out of Fox Lake and at the next major gravel road turn right again onto Shepherd Pond Rd. You'll find two more nice areas to bird along this road, which each have fairly extensive grassy, weedy fields adjacent to them - first, Dove pond on the left (you must walk through some young pines to reach the pond and fields), and then larger Shepherd Pond on the right. In late fall and winter, these fields offer great sparrowing with species such as White-throated, Chipping, Song, and Savannah Sparrow, Field, Dark-eyed Junco, Eastern Towhee, and Swamp Sparrow (closer to water); Winter Wren is also a possibility in tangled, damp areas with fallen logs. Also in winter, you may find Northern Harrier or American Kestrel cruising above the fields, Eastern Meadowlark, House Wren, or Loggerhead Shrike. Eventually, Shepherd Pond Rd will dead-end into Shepherd Rd; turn right and you'll reach pavement again and pass through some maintenance buildings. [NOTE: all the roads between Lakes Bennett and Margery and Lake Shepherd are good gravel roads, but after periods of rain they can get pretty muddy in spots so care must be taken in a passenger vehicle; you can always go back and use Hwy 11 to get down to the the other end of the property described here, the entrance is 2.8 miles south of the main north entrance and is marked by a wooden sign.] Soon after the buildings, you'll turn right at a sign for Teal Pond and park. You are now in some of the best sparrowing habitat anywhere (PHOTO 6 - taken in summer). In late fall and winter, these overgrown fields can host all of the species mentioned earlier, along with more highly sought-after species such as White-crowned and Vesper Sparrow; this may be one of the most reliable locations for the latter species in the Piedmont region. In areas where young saplings are starting to fill in, you may be lucky enough to flush a Fox Sparrow up to a high perch for nice looks, and Grasshopper Sparrow is rare but possible in the fields mixed with other species mentioned already. Take your time exploring the expansive fields, heading generally NW, towards Hwy 11; a pair of sturdy pants or jeans is a must, as briars and weeds would tear into light fabric like a hot knife through butter. Luckily, there are some good dirt roads through the area for less "extreme" birding. In spring and fall, the same habitat can be great for Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Yellow-breasted Chat, Common Yellowthroat, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, or (more rarely) Orange-crowned, Blue-winged, or Golden-winged Warbler. When you're done here, you can continue on Shepherd Rd until it dead-ends into GA Hwy 11; by turning right you'll come back to the main north entrance in 2.8 miles. In addition to the great birding, there is also a free first-come, first-serve primitive camping area here (a nice perk is that there are 24/7, usually clean restrooms with sinks just a few hundred yards down the road). There are also over 20 ponds on the property that are extensively managed and offer great fishing for bass, crappie, bream, and catfish; read the website carefully for special regulations for fishing here before heading out. IMPORTANT: Call ahead in hunting season to make sure there is not a quota deer or turkey hunt or dove hunt, when the place can get pretty crowded with hunters and some areas may be closed. There is also a shooting range, so don't worry if you hear gunfire out of hunting season ;) The area is also a major hub of Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia (EEA), with a brand new conference center and lodging facilities (PHOTO 7). The Nature Center offers a full calender of cool nature-related events for kids and adults alike, including summer camps. Visit the DNR's Charlie Elliot Website for more information. Visit the EEA website.
   PHOTO 1        PHOTO 2        PHOTO 3         PHOTO 4        PHOTO 5         PHOTO 6          PHOTO 7       PHOTO 8
Text and photos by KB.

 1) Piedmont NWR                   [March 2009]                      
IBA, PM (Spring)
See Beaton's Birding Georgia.
[DeLorme pg. 34, B-4, 5 and C-4, 5]
This wonderful wildlife refuge features specially-managed habitat for the federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker and the threatened Bachman's Sparrow. Both species prefer stands of mature pines in an open, park-like setting with low ground cover dominated by grasses (not a dense, scrubby understory); they are in decline across their range due to the loss of this habitat to years of logging. Fire also plays a major role as a disturbance agent in this habitat, and is used successfully by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage the refuge. As of 2006, at least 38 active clusters, or family groups, of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers ("RCW's") were known to be on the refuge, with 82 nestlings observed that year. The best and most popular time to enjoy Piedmont NWR is in the early spring. Many Atlanta-area birders make the relatively quick trip in late March or early April to get the first real taste of spring... the early warblers singing their hearts out... Red-cockaded Woodpeckers chattering to each other as they head out to forage... Bachman's Sparrows ringing in the dawn as the sun breaks through the pines (PHOTO 1)... it is one of those unique, special experiences in Georgia birding that should not be missed! Thus, this description will focus on birding the refuge in spring migration. Begin at I-75 at Exit 186 (Juliette Rd) and head east. At 6.2 miles on the left (north) side of the road, there is a pasture with a pond in it; the owners have a Purple Martin house that has hosted a colony for many years; be very careful if you briefly stop on the shoulder to view the birds from your vehicle - traffic here is fast so don't get out. At 8.4 miles you'll reach US Hwy 23 at a stop sign; note that a country store and gas station at this intersection is the closest and only spot for provisions other than the touristy Whistle-Stop Café in Juliette so plan accordingly. Continue east on Juliette road, cross the railroad tracks, and just before you reach a bridge over the Ocmulgee River, turn right into a new public picnic area and park (NOTE: you may wish to bird the bridge areas mentioned here after you bird the refuge since the RCW's and Bachman's Sparrows are most easily located very early in the morning). From the picnic area, you'll have great views of a colony of Cliff Swallows whose clay-pot nests may be seen attached to the bridge, along with other swallow species such as Northern Rough-winged Swallow and Barn Swallow, all of which are just starting to show up in early spring. Scan the trees and scrubby habitat around the picnic area for migrants, and carefully cross Juliette Rd to do the same on the other side where a pseudo-trail allows a short walk to the river. On the other side of the river, turn left onto River Rd and park on the shoulder. Listen for Louisiana Waterthrush singing along the river, and check for possible migrant flocks working the trees; reset your odometer as you turn back onto Juliette Rd to continue east. In exactly 1.0 mile, note Barron Russell Rd on your left (but don't turn on it now). At 3.1 miles from the river, you'll come to a large fork in the road - keep left to stay on Juliette Rd (Jarrell Plantation Rd to the right goes to a historic site of the same name). Slow down when you see a tiny, cinderblock primitive Baptist church on your left (5.1 miles from the river), and turn left on the next unmarked gravel road; note that the entrance to the one-way Little Rock Wildlife Drive is almost directly across the road on the south side - which you might want to explore later. Park just a ways off Juliette Rd, hop out, and you will be greeted by happy Yellow-throated Warblers singing their hearts out and, if you're lucky, you may pick out a Bachman's Sparrow singing as well. Also joining the chorus here and throughout the morning will be Chipping Sparrows, Pine Warblers, squeaky-toys (Brown-headed Nuthatches), Northern Parulas, and various woodpecker species. Continue carefully down this fair-quality gravel road and 0.8 miles from Juliette Rd you will ford a creek; only after heavy rain would you not be able to do this in a passenger vehicle - just be careful, if it can be done in an Acura TSX any car should be fine. In the area of the creek, take some time to get out and bird around the edges of a few wildlife clearings. You may find birds mentioned already along with vireos (Red-eyed, White-eyed, Yellow-throated, and Blue-headed are all possible), Common Yellowthroat, Prairie Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, and always listen for Louisiana Waterthrushes singing on the creek. At 1.2 miles there is another wildlife plot on your left with a few deciduous trees that is also worth checking for migrants and breeding birds (PHOTO 2). At 1.8 miles, look carefully for both green and white-ringed RCW cluster trees right next to the road on your right along with several signs marking a trail (PHOTO 3); park here - you know you're in the right place if there's a wood bench just a short walk in the woods down this trail. Bird all along the road in this area, listening for the happy ringing song of Bachman's Sparrows and the unique chirpy-trills of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. A very rare southerly sighting of Red Crossbill was made here in March 2008 so be on the lookout and familiarize yourself with their "jip-jip-jip" fight call just in case. After enjoying this area by birding down the road as long as you like, return to your vehicle, go back to Juliette Rd, and turn left. In 2.8 miles, turn left at the signs for the visitor's center (not open on weekends) with literature, checklists, and clean restrooms. Bird your way along this paved road until it ends at a large, new parking lot for Allison Lake and an information kiosk. (NOTE: In March 2009 the lake was completely dry; maintenance seems to be on-going and hopefully they plan to refill it in the future). Bird along the road, across the dam, and briefly into the woods on the other side; incidentally, the trailhead (wood bench) where you parked earlier has its other terminus here. Along with birds mentioned already, the selection of migrants and nesting species encountered in spring may include Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Wood Pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Song Sparrow, Eastern Phoebe, American Goldfinch, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Field Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Summer Tanager, and much more. The property is simply a woodpecker's paradise; it is quite feasible (with luck) to encounter all eight of Georgia's woodpecker species here on a single spring day: Red-headed, Red-bellied, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy, Hairy, Red-cockaded, Northern Flicker, and Pileated... keep a running count, it's fun! From here, you can go back to tour the wildlife loop if you want, then head west and return to Barron Russell Rd and turn right (north). At 1.4 miles, you'll pass a small white church on your left, and just downhill from it note a gravel road on your left; keep going, stopping if you hear interesting birds. You'll pass through a large recently-cut area and under some power lines, and just down the road you'll pass another gravel road on the left and immediately cross over Little Falling Creek. Park on the other side and take your time enjoying this area of rocky shoals and waterfalls (PHOTO 4) and the wildlife; many species of butterflies and dragonflies abound in spring for the enthusiast. When you're done, go back over the creek and turn right immediately on the first gravel road, following signs for Pond 2A. At about 1.7 miles from the turn, a small sign shows the way to the pond as you fork right, descend a bit and park near a dock (PHOTO 5). Tree Swallows, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, or other swallows may be cruising over this popular fishing spot. Check the pond edges for waders or Belted Kingfisher, and sometimes waterfowl may be present, such as Wood Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, or Double-crested Cormorant. Birding the edges of the woods and the creek at the bottom of the dam can be productive. Always check raptors passing overhead - most will be Turkey or Black Vultures along with the occasional Red-tailed or Red-shouldered Hawk, but there have been two reports of very rare Golden Eagles over the refuge in the last 10 years. When you're done at Pond 2A, turn right on the road your came in on (not re-tracing your path but continuing onwards) and you'll complete a loop to reconnect with the entrance road just downhill from the white church, turn right to return to Juliette Rd. However, take your time as you work your way back from Pond 2A, as the woods here can also be good for both RCW's and Bachman's Sparrows as well. Back at Juliette Rd, turn right to head back west towards I-75. Note that 
Rum Creek WMA and Lake Juliette are just down the road and make a logical extension for a full day of birding if you like. Visit the refuge website for maps and more information.
   PHOTO 1        PHOTO 2        PHOTO 3        PHOTO 4        PHOTO 5
Text and photos by KB.

Birding sites needed!

Birding sites needed!

 1) Resident Ross' Goose
              [Nov 2007]                  
[DeLorme pg. 22, D-3]
Apparently this farm pond and pasture is just what a Ross' Goose always wanted. The bird has been living there in the company of a group of domestic Graylag Geese for several years. From I-85 NE of Atlanta, get off at Exit 149 and head south through Commerce, until you see GA Hwy 98 on your left  – turn left and head east. Continue 5.7 miles and pass Jot-Em-Down road on your left, and in about 0.25 miles you’ll see a pond on the left side of the road and a prominent house with white columns behind it. You can park in a small pullout on that side of the road (north side) to view the pond and pasture where the bird hangs out with the domestic geese. Be extremely careful with traffic on Hwy 98, which can be fast with large trucks.

Birding sites needed!

 1) Joe Kurz WMA            [N/A]
PM, May-June for breeding birds

[DeLorme pg. 33, C-6]
Need information on birding this area!

 2) Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park and Pine Mountain         [N/A]
PM, May-June for breeding birds
[DeLorme pg. 32, F 4-5 & G 4-5]
Also located in Harris County. DETAILS COMING SOON! Pine Mountain has been noted for an isolated population of breeding Black-throated Green, many miles south of their well-established and widespread breeding grounds in Georgia's mountains and upper Piedmont.

 1) Lake Juliette, Rum Creek WMA    [Nov 2007]
IBA, W for waterfowl, PM

See Beaton's Birding Georgia.
[DeLorme pg. 34, D-4]
Interesting species seen since 2005 include Red-throated Loon, Eared Grebe, Horned Grebe, Redhead, and Canvasback. You can get a good vantage point of the lake by using the campground/boat ramp on the east end of the lake on US Hwy 23, but the best publicly accessible point for viewing the largest area of the lake is just west of here, off GA Hwy 18, on Rum Creek Dr. This is the same road where the Georgia DNR non-game division office is located; always stop to check the feeders and mist station here for interesting birds. If you look in your DeLorme on pg. 34, it is the first road that heads north from Hwy 18 from the left side of grid D-4. It looks like it goes through the lake itself, but in fact you will come to a clearing where you can park by a sign blocking all but foot travel. From here, walk the road out to a long peninsula into the main body of the lake. You'll notice as you walk along that a brief foray through some trees will give you nice looks at coves on the east and west side of the road. At land's end on the tip of the narrow peninsula, you can really scope a great deal of open water for loons, grebes, and other waterfowl. A couple challenges include a) the gate at the DNR office blocking this road is sometimes closed, and I have no idea what the reasons are for this or when it is consistently open and b) if it's really cold and the wind is blowing, the peninsula is extremely exposed and not only will you be chilled to the bone but the vibration of your scope and the chop on the water may make positive ID's impossible. Note Georgia Power’s Plant Scherer looming across the lake, which was actually built to supply cooling water to this coal-burning electric generation facility. On plant property is more nice habitat, including a large ash pond that is known to host rare Eared Grebes annually in winter. Other rarities have shown up on this pond as well, such as Pacific Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Canvasback, Redhead, and lots of other waterfowl. Sometimes helpful biologists from the DNR will set up special field trips onto the plant property to visit this pond, but otherwise it is strictly off-limits to the public. There is a newer spot nearby that has been burned and is being managed for Bachman's Sparrows. From the DNR office, turn right onto Hwy 18 (heading west), and continue a few miles until you see Maynard Church Rd and turn right. You'll pass a field on your left, and at the first intersection, turn right onto Ebenezer Rd. Be careful, because this road may also be signed as Colvin Rd. In about 1/2 mile, watch carefully and bear left at a fork. You'll come through some woods and the road will turn to gravel. You will pass through a shallow arm of Lake Juliette on a dike; look for swallows, waders, or raptors here. Keep going, and you'll deadend into Holly Grove Rd (also gravel) - turn right here. Watch carefully on your right; as soon as you pass a spot where you are right on Lake Juliette (a cove with some power lines over it is easily visible through the trees) you are almost there. Park at the next gate you come to, up an embankment on your right. Walk around it into an open area surrounded by pines. Listen for Bachman's Sparrows singing in April and May, but do NOT play audio here. You may also encounter Prairie Warblers, Pine Warblers, Yellow-throated Warblers, Field Sparrows, Blue Grosbeak, White-eyed Vireo, or Yellow-breasted Chat. Cape May Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, American Redstart, Palm Warblers, tanagers, flycatchers, and other neotropical migrants may be found in migration.

Text and photos by KB.

 1) Bostwick Sod Farm               [June 2007]
[DeLorme pg. 28, B-1]
Read about
Birding Georgia's Sod Farms
Migrating shorebirds; Upland Sandpiper, American Golden Plover & Long-billed Dowitcher (early Sept 2006); Baird's Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Horned Lark, Mississippi Kite. Located just north of the town of Bostwick on the west side of Hwy 83 at Gilbert Rd. (Bostwick is about 20 miles SW of Athens, GA) Coming north from Bostwick, turn left onto Gilbert Rd and you can scan the south sod fields on both sides of the road (PHOTO 1); sometimes there will be a wet area near the pivot point of the watering boom on the south side of the road, which may attract shorebirds. You will come to a stop sign with Nunn Ln. If you turn left, you can continue scanning the south field. Turning right, the road turns to dirt and you'll notice a small pond in a pasture to your left (PHOTO 2). Look in this area for Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Mississippi Kite (July-Aug) and swallows like Northern Rough-winged, Barn, or (rarely) Bank in migration. Just down the road, the north sod field will appear on your right. When you dead-end into Hardeman Rd, turn right and you can continue scanning the north fields (PHOTO 3) until you come back to Hwy 83, where you can turn right for more views of the north field and/or to return to Gilbert Rd for more scanning of the area.
  PHOTO 1         PHOTO 2        PHOTO 3
Text and photos by KB.

2) Dyar Pasture WMA ( also Greene County)             [Aug 2006]
PM, late Sp-Su for breeding birds

[DeLorme pg. 28, D-3, 4 and E-3, 4]
See Beaton's Birding Georgia. 

 1) Oxbow Meadows Environmental Park/Columbus Waterworks            [Sept 2008]             
[DeLorme pg. 40, E-2]
Traveling south on I-185, get off at Exit 1B (US Hwy 27 / 80) which will automatically send you west; hit your odometer as you merge onto this road, and in 2.0 miles you will pass under a pedestrian bridge and turn left immediately at a light onto Benning Drive. In just 0.25 miles, you will dead-end into South Lumpkin Road - turn left. You will pass through several lights in this urban area, and in 1.4 miles turn right into the South Columbus Water Resource Facility; it is important to note that the gate is only open from 6:00am-6:00pm. The road will wind along a series of wetland projects on the right that are good for Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Belted Kingfisher, Wood Duck, and other waterfowl in season. The willows, alders, and other trees surrounding these ponds may have interesting migrants. There are several places to park on your right, and a nice biking/jogging trail, the Columbus Riverwalk, winds through the entire area. On your left, you will notice the North Application Fields, a huge fenced area where the water works company applies treated water onto a massive surface area if land and also grows winter wheat/hay in the winter which is harvested in summer. There is a small wetland area along the road in the fields, which may produce interesting waders, shorebirds, or waterfowl depending on season (PHOTOS 1 & 2). In addition, in July and August these fields (and the South Application Fields as well) are known to host flocks of foraging Mississippi Kites that have numbered up to 40 birds; in spring migration you can find lots of Blue Grosbeaks and Boblinks here, and there are a few records of Dickcissel. In fall shorebird migration (late July-October), these fields are plowed down to the dirt and can have large, wet, muddy areas that may attract lots of interesting shorebirds including Pectoral Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, both yellowlegs, and (rarely) Buff-breasted Sandpiper. At the end of this drive is a parking area (PHOTO 3) for a walking trail that accesses more woodland habitat, along with some nice bottomland habitat along the Chattahoochee River. This area can produce all kinds of interesting species during migration like wood warblers, vireos, thrushes, and tanagers; a mega-rarity Bell's Vireo was found in the area in April 2000 by Walt Chambers. When you're done birding here, turn right back onto S. Lumpkin and continue a total of 0.9 miles, passing the Oxbow Creek Golf Course entrance, and turn right into Oxbow Meadows Environmental Park (PHOTO 4). Park in the large parking lot, where you can walk the gravel road further down through a gate, which will provide you with nice views of a wetland to your left (PHOTOS 5 & 6) that also has a foot trail down lower for more views if you like. This area is good for divers, waders, and waterfowl in season as well as breeding birds like Prothonotary Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, and Eastern Kingbird. Across the street is a raised field (a former landfill) where you may see various swallow species swooping, and Loggerhead Shrikes are sometimes seen along the fence, and Grasshopper Sparrows have been heard in recent years. During working hours, you are allowed to go get back in your car and drive into this facility but vehicle access is limited. When you enter the gated area in your vehicle, take the first available left after the wetland, and fork to the right at a large pile of dirt and park well off the shoulder. You will find yourself near a large, low pond which is part of the borrow pits area (PHOTOS 7 & 8). In winter through spring you may have waterfowl like Blue-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, and Sora; a Purple Gallinule showed up in April 2007. In summer the area is good for Yellow-breasted Chat, Indigo Bunting, American Goldfinch, Little Blue Heron, Anhinga, and Cattle Egret. Now backtrack on foot to the fork in the road and turn right, continuing along another wetland area on your left and plenty of willows, alders, brushy vegetation, and a few scattered areas of older hardwoods; the whole property can be very birdy almost any time of year, especially in migration! After you pass through a gate that is open during working hours, you will come into a wide open area that is a corner of the vast South Application Fields and dead-end into another gravel road. Turn left here, which will take you past a good marshy area (PHOTOS 11 &12) which in winter may hold Sora, Rusty Blackbird, and interesting sparrows, including White-crowned. You must turn around here, and continue along this road to get some good views of the South Application Fields (PHOTOS 9 & 10). This area (and the North Application Fields as well) can produce high numbers of Blue Grosbeaks (30-40) and Bobolink (100+) in late April and early May, relating to the winter wheat that is planted here; in winter you may find good numbers of Fox Sparrows along the road bordering the fields; American Kestrel has been found here both in winter and summer. Just after passing some rusted-out farm equipment on your right, your must take the next gravel road on your right, and after another right just down this road you will complete a loop by returning to your car and another view of the borrow pits. You may not walk or drive the road around the South Application Fields any further than the access described above. Breeding birds noted for the entire area include Wood Duck, Mallard, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Little Blue Heron, Green Heron, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Mississippi Kite, Common Ground-Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Prothonotary Warbler, Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat, Summer Tanager, Orchard Oriole, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, and American Goldfinch.  IMPORTANT: you are not to access the South Application Fields at all from June 1 until the end of August, when the Columbus Waterworks is doing applications on the fields and the EPA restricts access. Visit the 
Oxbow Meadows website.

  PHOTO 1       PHOTO 2               PHOTO 3              PHOTO 4                   PHOTO 5       PHOTO 6

  PHOTO 7      PHOTO 8                   PHOTO 9       PHOTO 10                     PHOTO 11     PHOTO 12
Text and photos by KB.

 2) Standing Boy Creek WMA               [June 2007]
PM, May-June for breeding birds
[DeLorme pg. 40, B-1]
DNR Line Map
DNR Topo Map
DNR Infrared Map
Another great new birding location put on the map by experienced west Georgia birder Walt Chambers, this area produced some incredible finds in spring 2007 and much more is to come as it receives more coverage from the Birding Community. What makes the area so productive is a nice diversity of habitat in a relatively small area, and being located on a major river, which are known migrant flyways. The property features planted pine areas at multiple growing stages, mixed pine-oak uplands, open weedy fields and scrub, and some nice river bottomland as well. I have edited a DNR map below to help bird the area, the original map did not differentiate good gravel/sand roads from "roads" that are no more than a rough walk through dense woods. From I-185 north of Columbus, get off at Exit 10 and head west on US Hwy 80 for 1.8 miles (measured from where you merge) and get off at Exit 2 (GA Hwy 219 / River Rd). At the bottom of the exit, turn right to head north on GA Hwy 219. In 4.8 miles, turn left onto Old River Rd. You will soon cross over Standingboy Creek, and in just 0.3 miles note a gate on your left; you cannot go into the property at this gate or park here, but you may come out here later depending on the route you choose. A total of 0.9 miles from GA Hwy 219, you will see a wooden sign for the WMA on your left (PHOTO 1), park here and make sure not to block the road. The best way to cover this property in my opinion is with a mountain bike, but whether on foot or bike enter the property here and take plenty of water and a snack. You'll find yourself in mixed pine and hardwoods with a dense brushy understory (PHOTO 2); listen here and in similar habitat throughout the property for Kentucky Warblers - an amazing count of 26 was made in April 2007! Other birds you may encounter include Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Vireo, White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireo, Pine Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Hooded Warbler, Summer Tanager, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Great-crested Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and more. Continue down the gravel road, which can be muddy and steep in spots, and make a note of another relatively good-quality road that splits off to the left; it's easy to spot because a powerline follows it and no other roads on your left will have powerlines. Later on, on your way back, you may decide to take this road to create a much longer tour of the property - on the MAP below a "Short Route" is shown in red (in-and-out on the same roads) while in yellow is the aptly-named "Long Loop." Just past this side road, you will come into what the DNR folks still call the "dove fields," which are now completely overgrown weedy fields, simply awesome habitat! You may hear and see Yellow-breasted Chat, Eastern Bluebird, Barn Swallow, Purple Martin, Eastern Phoebe, along with Chipping and Field Sparrows; these fields are bound to produce some great migrants, including Sedge Wren and Marsh Wren and (hopefully) some ammodramus sparrows as well. You will come to a curve in the road (PHOTO 4) but keep going straight through a few pines along the road and bird your way around a loop that circles some old farm structures before coming back for another view of the fields (PHOTO 5) and then diving into some great bottomland habitat along the Chattahoochee River (PHOTO 6); you cannot see the river but you'll hear motor boats out there. This wet, boggy area has a thick understory that is choked up with river cane and Chinese privet - perfect habitat for Swainson's Warblers, and many have been found here. Avoid playing audio in this area. You will pop in and out of a few recently-planted areas of pine (PHOTO 7) that look good for Prairie Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat. A ways down the road, and you'll notice an open area on your left that is covered with marsh grass and has a Wood Duck box in it (PHOTO 8). The DNR still calls this the "Duck Pond," but as of spring 2007 it was completely dry [IMPORTANT: The DNR map is not accurate in this area. There is, in fact, a nice waterfowl area with three flooded cells on the property in this corner of the WMA. Instead of turning sharp-left after the dry pond, continue straight on the road and you will eventually dead-end into another dirt road. Turn left, and you will come into the area of the waterfowl cells. You can also get a good view of the river here, and a narrow strip of woods along the river bank should help you stay with a flock as they work their way along up or down stream. Just past the dry pond, you can take a sharp left turn to come around the back side of it into some more bottomland habitat and one open view of the Chattahoochee River (PHOTOS 9 and 10); you should add Common Yellowthroat to your list in this area, as well as waders. You can now backtrack, enjoying more birds and ending where you started at your vehicle. However, when you get back to the side road (now on your right) with the powerlines, you may wish to extend your visit by turning here. You will climb a real butt-burner of a hill into some nice upland pine-oak forest, which should be great in migration and will reward you with a great view from the top (PHOTO 11). Both Broad-winged and Red-tailed Hawks breed here and may be seen soaring overhead. You will then follow a ridge line for a while, with a few ups and downs through similar habitat - keep following the powerlines. Finally, the powerlines will leave the road (they go to a private neighborhood that you can't quite see) and the road cuts to the left and descends, rather steeply in some places, into some nice primarily hardwood forest that is similar to what you first saw when you came in the west gate. You'll have more Hooded and Kentucky Warblers, vireos, etc. in this area (PHOTO 12). Finally, you will come out at a nice pond (PHOTO 13) where you may have waders or waterfowl in season. By following the road out from this point, you will arrive back on Old River Rd at the first (east) gate; turn left and in less than a mile you will get back to your car parked at the west gate. This place is turning out to be real migrant magnet (located right on the Chattahoochee River); in spring 2007 nearly 20 warbler species were seen in a single day on several occasions including Orange-crowned, Northern Parula, Yellow-rumped, Yellow-throated, Pine, Prairie, Palm, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Prothonotary,Worm-eating, Swainson's, Ovenbird, and both Northern and Louisiana Waterthrush.
  MAP                  PHOTO 1         PHOTO 2         PHOTO 3        PHOTO 4          PHOTO 5        PHOTO 6
  PHOTO 7        PHOTO 8          PHOTO 9        PHOTO 10       PHOTO 11      PHOTO 12       PHOTO 13
Text and photos by KB.

 3) Oliver Lake & Dam                 [June 2007]
W for waterfowl, gulls
[DeLorme pg. 40, C-2]
Migrating terns, winter gulls; Sooty Terns July 2005 (storm-blown). From I-85 (west of Atlanta), take 185 south towards Columbus. Get off at Hwy 80 (Exit 10) and head west towards Phenix City, Alabama. Get off at Exit 2 River Rd (GA Hwy 219), and at the bottom of the exit go straight, do not turn onto River Rd. This will put you on Lake Oliver Rd, and you will come down a hill to the marina parking lot with a wide open view of the lake. You may be able to get a glimpse of the lake from other vantage points along the road past the marina, but no matter what is out there, do not venture into any of the fenced areas on foot or in your vehicle. Also, enjoy a flock of massive Graylag Geese that hangs around the marina looking for free hand-outs.

Text and photo by KB.

 1) Lake Varner                 [June 2007]                   
W for waterfowl, PM, SBM
[DeLorme pg. 27 C-8, 9]
This is a drinking water reservoir on the Walton-Newton County border that receives very little birding attention, and has good potential. From I-20 east of Atlanta, get off at Exit 92 (Alcovy Rd) and head north for a total of 3.6 miles coming from the west (or 3.3 miles coming from the east). You will see a large sign on the left (west) side of the road for Lake Varner, turn here (PHOTO 1). In 0.7 miles you'll note a small pay station (a mailbox) on the right; there is a $5.00 fee, but I am not sure if it is only for fishermen or if it is a general day-use fee. If you plan to stay for more than a quick scan, it's best to go ahead and pay the fee. Very soon after the mailbox, you'll see a sign pointing to the picnic area on the left, take this fork. Continuing straight will take you to the boat ramp, which does not have as good of a vantage point of the lake. Follow the road down to a small loop with concrete picnic tables right on the lake with small parking slots. This is the best point to scope the entire lake (PHOTO 2). There are a couple coves you cannot see into, but if you see something interesting you might try walking or driving around a little for other vantage points. Interesting birds seen since 2004 include Red-breasted Merganser, Snow Goose, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, American Pipit, and Ring-billed Gull. A permanent flock of Canada Geese hangs out at the lake, often along the opposite shoreline that is a private pasture; you should always scan closely for other goose species from fall to spring. During shorebird migration you may see Solitary Sandpiper or Spotted Sandpiper around the edges of the lake. There is some good mixed-woods habitat along the approach road to the lake and around the public area on the lake itself that can be productive for passerines during migration. This is also a well-known fishing hole as well. In particular, the lake is known for a good population of Crappie and Hybrid Bass. It is notable that fishing from shore is very limited, and if you plan to take a boat you can only use electric power - no gasoline engines are allowed on the lake.
  PHOTO 1         PHOTO 2
Text and photos by KB.

 2) Gaither's Plantation                 [Aug 2006]
late Su-F for hummingbirds

[DeLorme pg. 27, F-9]
270 Davis Ford Rd. Covington, GA 30014. The highlight of this area is an incredible hummingbird garden, which hosts literally swarms (100's!!!) of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and butterflies in late summer and early fall. In addition, the awesome Georgia Hummers Hummingbird Festival is held here annually in August. Go to Rusty Trump's great website
www.gahummer.org to find out more about hummers and the festival. From I-20 (east of Atlanta), take Exit 98 (GA Hwy 11). Take GA 11 south through Mansfield. Make a right on County Line Road (4th or 5th road after getting out of Mansfield). Make a right on Henderson Mill Road. Make a right on Davis Ford Road. Once on Davis Ford Road you should see Gaithers Plantation on the right.

2) Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center and PFA (also Jasper County)            
[Sept 2007]         
IBA, PM, W for waterfowl
[See Jasper County]

 1) UGA Plant Sciences Farm                 [July 2007]
PM, May and June for breeding birds, W for Pipits
[DeLorme, pg. 22 H-1, pg. 28 A-1]
Open habitat species; Horned Lark, Dickcissel, Grasshopper Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, Blue Grosbeak, raptors, Wilson's Snipe, waterfowl (ponds in the area). From I-85 (north of Atlanta), take Hwy 316 east towards Athens. Just outside Athens, get off at the exit for Hwy 78 and turn right. Pass a gas station on the right, and look carefully for Clotfelter Rd on the left. Turn here and follow the road until you come to a bigger road and a stop sign - this is GA Hwy 53 (Hog Mountain Rd). Cross the highway, and the road you are on changes to Cole Springs Rd. Roll down windows and start listening for singing birds like Grasshopper Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Kingbird, or Blue Grosbeak. Stop along the shoulder to bird carefully along the road if you hear something interesting; there used to be a small pond on your right but in July 2007 it had been completely drained; still, after a good rain it looks like it could have some good mud for shorebirds in migration. At the next stop sign, you will see a large field diagonally to your left (PHOTO 1) - it is stubble in winter and is good for American Pipit, Horned Lark, Eastern Meadowlark. You can turn left on Snows Mill Rd, and/or an immediate right onto Aycock Rd to scan it from different vantage points. Back at the stop sign, if your turn right onto Snows Mill Rd, you will pass two pairs of chicken houses on the right, and after the last one turn right onto a dirt road. You can drive a little ways and park where you can scope the fields and a small pond (PHOTO 2). Listen and look for Dickcissel and Grasshopper Sparrow here, and the pond edges may have Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, or other shorebirds in migration. Don't wander near the chicken houses - they are not part of UGA property, as far as I know. If you are asked to leave, as always politely do so.
Text and photos by KB.

 2) Kite Survey areas                        [Aug 2006]
late July-August  (see next site for more details)
[DeLorme pg. 28, 3-A, B]
From late July through August 2006, a large number of Mississippi Kites gathered at freshly-mown fields to feed - as many as 30-40 in some areas. Several Swallow-tailed Kites were regularly seen mixed in with the flocks. Head south on US 441/GA Hwy 24 from the town of Watkinsville. Just as you come to the end of the town of Bishop, slow down and look for Astondale Rd on the left and turn on it.  In a little over a mile, look for a powerline cut on the left side of the road, and one field will soon appear on your left. If you hit Old Farmington Rd, you just passed it. There is also a small pasture "puddle" on the other side of the road that is worth checking out in shorebird migration or winter (waterfowl) if you are in the area (see Area #3 below). By turning either way on Old Farmington Rd, you may find other hay fields where the kites will be foraging. If you continue on Astondale Rd east past Old Farmington Rd, turn on right at Colham Ferry Rd and continue scanning the sky and looking for fields. Look for Coventry Rd on the right. The fields in this area also produced large flocks of kites, including STKI.

 3) Colham Ferry Rd, Old Farmington Rd, Astondale Rd Pond         
[July 2007]
YR (See notes)
[Delorme pg. 28 A-3 & B-2]
(Open country species: Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Grosbeak, Grasshopper Sparrow, Bobolink, Northern Bobwhite, Mississippi and Swallow-tailed Kites, American Kestrel, and sparrows. Shorebirds at Astondale Rd pond) Mostly open habitat roadside birding with a few small lakes/ponds and some woodland habitat and hedgerows. From the traffic light at the south end of downtown Watkinsville, go south on US 441 (business route) about a half mile and turn left over the railroad tracks onto Colham Ferry Rd. Set your trip meter to zero. The first 2-3 miles can be good for Loggerhead Shrikes, especially the area near Bell Lake at 0.8 mile. Some species that have appeared at the lake include Snow Goose, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, and Double-crested Cormorant. American Kestrel is fairly reliable in winter all along this road. A Merlin was seen just south of Bell Lake in December 2002 and also further south at Astondale Rd in December 2004. The section between Green Ferry Rd and Rose Creek Dr can be good for foraging kites in late July through August, especially over recently mowed hay fields. At mile 2.5 turn right onto Old Farmington Rd and continue across Astondale Rd. From this point on, Old Farmington Rd is a gravel road. During the first week of May, look for Bobolinks in the field on the left and in the small trees along the edge. A flock of 100-200 birds has used this field as a stopover during spring migration over the past several years. If not found here, there is another site further down this road where they may be seen. The brushy areas near this corner are also good for Orchard Oriole, Blue Grosbeak, and Eastern Kingbird. The pasture on the right is excellent for Grasshopper Sparrows in late spring and early summer; they can often be seen singing from atop a large hay bale or on the wire fence. Just 100 feet or so from the corner as you continue down Old Farmington, there is a shallow depression in the right pasture (close to the road) that may have water if it has recently rained. Check for shorebirds during migration. In less than a half mile there is a small hay field with a pond on the left. Ring-necked Ducks and Redheads are somewhat regular at the pond in winter. A single Canvasback was seen here in February 2004. Please observe the pond from the road only, a scope is useful here. The next half mile is mostly forested on both sides. At mile 3.7 there is an organic farm on the left and a horse farm with arena on the right. The farm on the left is the other site where Bobolinks sometimes show up for a few days in early May. They seem to prefer the corner near the road and the line of trees to the south. They are usually visible from the road and are easy to hear if they are present. Again, please respect the private property here and bird only from the road. This is also another great spot for Grasshopper Sparrow and Loggerhead Shrike, and occasionally White-crowned and Vesper Sparrow in winter. Continue downhill and across Greenbriar Creek. The hardwood forest in this area is good for Indigo Bunting, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Summer Tanager, and other neotropical species. The last stretch of this route is mostly large pastures with some farrow fields, starting at about mile 4.5 at the crest of a hill. Listen for Northern Bobwhite where the road curves sharply to the right. At mile 5.0 there is a short cut-thru road that will take you to US 441. Turn right to return to the Watkinsville area, or turn left to head towards Heritage Park (another birding site) and eventually Madison and I-20 (approx 20 miles). The Astondale Rd cattle pond (PHOTO) is just west of the intersection of Astondale Rd and Old Farmington Rd, near two red chicken houses. This little pond is always worth checking during shorebird migration. Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Pectoral Sandpiper, Western and Least Sandpiper, and Wilson Snipe have all been seen at this pond.

Text by Mark Freeman, photo by KB.

 4) Heritage Park                   [N/A]
PM, late Sp-early Su for breeding birds
[Delorme pg. 28, B-2]
Located on US 441 approx 10 miles south of Watkinsville. Open fields and many trails in hardwood forest with access to the Apalachee River. Passerine migrants and breeding species (Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Acadian Flycatcher, etc). Take the trail from the back side of the large arena and stable area, stay left along the property line, eventually you will drop into the forested floodplain of the Apalachee River. There is a rudimentary map at the parking area that will give you a rough idea of the layout of this site. There may be mountain bikers on the trails, but it is rarely a problem, and there are many trails. This site is easily reached from the end point of the Colham Ferry Rd/Old Farmington Rd route by taking US 441 south about 2-3 miles.  Text by Mark Freeman.

 1) Chandler-Silver Road                   [N/A]
late Sp-Su, PM

[Delorme pg. 22, G-5]
Good open habitat, has hosted Dickcissel in 2005 & 2006. Located on Chandler Silver Rd in the northwest part of the county. From the Smithonia crossroad, take Collier Church Rd northeast, turn right onto Chandler Silver Rd at about 2 miles. The bird was about 0.2 mile down the road on the wires that run above a row of Leyland Cypress trees.

 2) UGA Beef Cattle Pond              [Aug 2006]

[DeLorme pg. 29, A-7]
If weather has been dry and water is down, exposed mud is good for shorebirds, White Ibis, waders, etc., in late summer-fall. If you're headed east on Hwy 78 from the town of Lexington, you'll come to an area of open pastures on both sides of the road. On the left will be a UGA sign marking it UGA Beef Cattle Research, Wilkins Unit. Almost directly across from it is the pond, on the right. This is just west of the Wilkes County line, around mile marker 18. There are cedars all along the fence row so as you drive by, it's hard to get a good look. Be careful if you park, traffic moves fast.

 3) Long Creek wetlands              [Aug 2006]
mid Sp-mid F
[Delorme pg. 22, H-5]
This is a really nice wetland with many snags and marsh vegetation. Good for waders, swallows at the bridge, or dabbling ducks in winter. It is usually a reliable place for Red-headed Woodpeckers, also waders, Northern Bobwhite may be heard. From the town of Lexington, head SE on Hwy 78, then turn right (south) onto GA Hwy 22 and in approx. 1.5 miles you will come to the wetlands where Long Creek crosses Hwy 22 (this is signed). There is a wider shoulder here to park and scan the area, but be very wary of traffic! DeLorme pg. 29, A-6. Just west of Lexington, on GA Hwy 77, there is another crossing of Long Creek with wetlands on both sides of the road. Not as many snags here for woodpeckers, but Wood Duck and waders may be present, or other dabbling ducks in winter.

Birding sites needed!

Birding sites needed!

Birding sites needed!

Birding sites needed!

 1) Oconee Waterfowl Management Area                [N/A]
W for waterfowl and gulls, PM

[DeLorme pg. 28, H-5]
Wintering waterfowl; Bonaparte's Gull, Bald Eagle possible. This is located where GA Hwy 16 crosses the Oconee River.

 1) Georgia International Horsepark              [Sept 2007]                   
PM, late Sp-Su for breeding birds
[DeLorme Pg. 27, C-7]
From Interstate 20 (east of Atlanta) take exit 82 and travel north for 3.7 miles on GA Hwy 138. Turn right onto Centennial Olympic Parkway. In 1.6 miles, you will park at a polo field on the right (PHOTO 1). Go to the kiosk to get a map of the area. As you face the polo field (PHOTO 2), go to the far left corner of the field (you should see a small memorial with white crosses in this area). Bird the edges of the field briefly, then head down the gravel road that descends to the Yellow River from the corner of the field (PHOTO 3) - this is known as the Swainson's Warbler Trail (see edited map below). You'll see a large, low swampy area on your left at the start of this trail. Listen for Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, and Acadian Flycatcher. When the road reaches the river, it curves to the right and follows the river through mixed bottomland forest that is very choked up with Chinese privet. It is in this area that Swainson's Warblers breed; study their song before you go and please avoid playing tapes for them so as not to disturb their breeding. You may also hear Louisiana Waterthrush on the river, and there are a couple places where you can get a view on the water to catch a glimpse of them. Other interesting birds in the area include Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Hooded Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher, Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireos, Indigo Buntings, and thrushes. When you reach a gas line cut across the river (a wide open view of the river is availabe here), take the trail to the right and you will gain in elevation away from the river and enter an area dominated by pines. You may encounter upland migrants and breeders here, such as Pine Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Cape May Warbler, or Yellow-breasted Chat, along with nuthatches and woodpeckers. You can stay on this trail (or use a combination of side trails - see the MAP below) and you can eventually reach Centennial Olympic Pkwy where you can bear to the right and make a nice loop back to your vehicle. The next area to bird is exactly 1.0 mile further down Centennial Olympic Pkwy; you will pass Gees Mill Rd on your right then cross Costley Mill Rd. Pass the main entrance to the horse facility on the right, and turn right at the last possible gate on the right. Park on the left in a grassy area that is for horse trailers, and find a small green information/map sign under a couple large oak trees (PHOTO 4). Just behind this is where the Haynes Creek Bottomland trail descends (PHOTO 5). All along this trail you may find neat migrants like Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireos, and wood warblers. After a couple hundred yards, you'll notice that an open bottomland and swampy area is now off the trail to your left (PHOTO 7). You can leave the trail here to get down to the edge of some great wet habitat that is full of willows, scrubby vegetation, and hardwoods (PHOTO 6). This area may have all kinds of cool migrants and bottomland breeders like Prothonotary Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Northern and Louisiana Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher; Swainson's Warbler may be possible in areas of denser brush. From here, you can actually continue deeper to explore the bottomland area (see edited map below) but you will need hip-boots or even chest waders to access the area. In fact, the entire property is very muddy and you should wear waterproof boots with Gortex at the very least. This bottomland area has hosted several rarities over the years, including possible Bell's Vireo and Alder Flycatcher in May 2006. When you are finished here (or perhaps before you get all muddy and worn-out here!) you should not miss a visit to the Big Haynes Creek "Nature Center" almost directly across the street from the horse trailer parking access road. There is no visitor's center, just a piece of land with a manicured trail down to a nice canoe launch dock and a covered shelter. It is more quality hardwood/bottomland habitat and a good way to get a nice view of a very large wetlands upstream (PHOTO 8). You may find waterfowl here in early spring, along with possible waders or divers; a group of Red-headed Woodpeckers is often seen amid the many snags along the edge of the water.
   PHOTO 1        PHOTO 2         PHOTO 3         PHOTO 4        PHOTO 5         PHOTO 6         PHOTO 7         MAP         PHOTO 8
Text by KB; photos by KB & RC; map by Mike Riter, edited by KB

 1) UGA Experiment Station Gardens                   [N/A]
[DeLorme pg. 33, A-9]
This is a nice area for a walk during passerine migration, and there is a small pond that may also have waterfowl from late fall to early spring. In addition to the birding, you can enjoy the seasonal variation of the interesting landscaping. It is open to car traffic during the week, and to foot traffic on weekends. Birds seen since 2004 include common but enjoyable birds like Hooded Merganser, Pied-billed Grebe, American Kestrel, Savannah Sparrow, Red-tailed Hawk, Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Bluebird, etc.

 1) Prather Bridge Rd  marsh / Yonah Dam Rd           [May 2008]   
PM, May-June for breeding birds
[DeLorme pg. 16, F-4]
The highlights of this area are Willow Flycatcher, Swainson's Warbler, and nesting Cliff Swallows, along with lots of interesting breeding birds along Yonah Dam Rd and North Panther Creek Rd in this small, rugged county straddling the Blue Ridge mountains and the rolling hills of the Piedmont. Assuming you come into the small town of Toccoa coming east on GA Hwy ALT 17 from US 441/23, look for signs indicating that GA Hwy 184 is joining the road and turn left to head east on GA Hwy 17 / 184 (East Tugalo St). Just outside of the downtown area at 0.7 miles from your last turn, GA Hwy 184 splits off on your left to head north, and is called Prather Bridge Rd - turn left here. Follow the road for 5.3 miles from the last turn, and you will note that you must make a right turn if you wish to follow GA Hwy 184. Turn here, and in 0.4 miles you'll see the bridge over the Tugalo River, heading into South Carolina. Just before the bridge, you'll pass through a very nice wetland and marshy area. Park at a paved pull-off on the right just in front of the bridge, which used to go to an older span. You will notice Cliff Swallows cruising around and nesting in their cool "clay pots" under the edge of the bridge, along with Barn Swallows. Take your time birding in the scrubby riparian habitat via a few rough fishermen's trails and walking the road shoulder (watch for traffic!) in the area of the marsh. You may encounter Yellow-breasted Chat, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Kingbird, Prothonotary Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, or waterthrushes in migration. Most notably for the marsh, Willow Flycatchers have been observed - a very rare Georgia breeder. You may also see waterfowl or waders. Head back to the stop sign and turn right, which is Yonah Dam Rd and winds along the Tugalo River up to the dam forming Yonah Lake. At 1.4 miles, carefully park on the shoulder in the middle of a nice beaver swamp with lots of willows and alders and check the edges for lowland and scrub-relating species. At 4.4 miles, you will cross a bridge and then come to a sign for the Yonah Hydro Plant on your right; turn right at this fork and park on the side of the road. It is worth a little walking around this wide open area with fields, edge habitat, and some nice thickets for species such as Orchard Oriole, Red-winged Blackbird, American Goldfinch, White-eyed Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, Indigo Bunting, Yellow-breasted Chat, and swallows on the river or Osprey overhead. You can also get a neat view of the dam itself and the old power station. When you're done here, turn right back at the fork and you'll notice that you are now on Panther Creek Rd. At exactly 0.6 miles from the fork, turn left onto a gravel road signed as N. Panther Creek Rd. This road will take you along Panther Creek in some nice woodland habitat that suddenly reminds you that you are on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains! You may hear Scarlet Tanagers or Northern Parula singing above, while Acadian Flycatchers and Louisiana Waterthrush may be heard along the creek itself. This area is also popular for primitive camping and trout fishing so be respectful and allow other folks their space if you stop to bird along the road. At 1.6 miles from pavement you will reach the end of the road at a little foot bridge over the creek with lots of room to park. It is interesting to note that this is the other end (eastern trailhead) of the Panther Creek Trail described in the
Habersham County  section. Before you cross the foot bridge for a little hike-in birding, instead head upstream past the bridge on your side of the creek along a well-worn fishermen's trail. This is a prime area for breeding Swainson's Warblers, which may be heard singing in the dense undergrowth from late April through early June; good views are hard to come by. Cross the bridge and head UP the trail to the right. As you gain elevation on this fairly strenuous trail, a nice slice of the mountain spectrum of breeding birds should be well-represented included Black-throated Green Warbler, American Redstart, Yellow-throated Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, or (uncommonly) Kentucky Warbler in areas with a dense understory.
Text by KB.

 1) Big Lazer Creek WMA             [N/A]
PM, May-June for breeding birds

[DeLorme pg. 33, G-7, 8 and H-7, 8]
Large area, borders Flint River. Need information for birding this area!

Birding sites needed!

Birding sites needed!

 1) Sprewell Bluff State Park                   [N/A]
PM, May-June for breeding birds

[DeLorme pg. 33, F-7]
Located on the Flint River. Need information for birding this area!
Visit the
park website.

1) Lake Varner  
W for Waterfowl
See Newton County

2) Briscoe Reservoir                      [N/A]
W for Waterfowl
[DeLorme pg. 27, A-9]
This reservoir just NW of Monroe does not have much public access, but might be checked during winter for interesting ducks, divers, or other waterfowl from late fall through early spring. A pretty good vantage point can be had on the shoulder of Double Springs Rd; be very careful parking and scoping from all roadside stops. You can plug this GPS point into a navigation or Google Maps to view the lake - N33 50.628 W83 46.698. Or, you can click 
HERE to view the lake on Google Maps. From US Hwy 78 north of Monroe, head north on N Broad St (GA Hwy 11) for 0.8 miles and take a left on to Double Spring Church Rd. In 1.2 miles, be careful to turn slight left to continue on this road. Approx. 2 miles rom this fork, you will probably see the deep end of the lake and the dam on your right across a large pasture. You may be able to park here on the shoulder and scan, but use your best judgement and be careful with traffic. Less than a mile farther down the road, you will deadend into New Hope Church Rd. Turn right. At the very next interesection, turn right onto Double Springs Rd and look for a wide area to park on the shoulder to scan the lake. Birds seen in Dec 2008 included Gadwall, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, and American Pipit.

Birding sites needed!

Birding sites needed!