|This loop begins at the intersection of I-65 and AL 225 just south of Stockton, AL. In this area northeast of Mobile, the waters of the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers merge into a maze of channels, creeks and bayous that make up the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. Though best explored by boat, these bottomlands can be accessed at several points along the eastern periphery from AL 225 and AL 59. The main attraction for birders is the abundance of breeding songbirds; other species such as large waders and kites also can be seen. Early May is the best time to do this loop. Start at the northern extreme of this loop, where good woodland birding may be found and then work your way southward. Insect repellent is a must!
34. Upper Delta Wildlife Management Area - French's Lake
[GPS] N31.13559 W-87.84507
From Stockton, drive north on AL 59 and look for the Upper Delta Wildlife Management Area (WMA) sign [12.5]. Turn left on St. Luke Church Road. Follow the WMA signs to the tract and then follow signs to the French’s Lake Coastal Access Kiosk and Canoe Launch [1.2]. There is no parking or usage fee. This site is located on the Clearwater Forever Wild Tract and features an access point into the vast Mobile-Tensaw Delta system via the Bartram Canoe Trail managed by the ADCNR State Lands Division. Several featured trails start from this launch offering great opportunities to experience the natural wonders of the Delta. Wood Duck, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Red-shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, Acadian Flycatcher, Prothonotary Warbler, American Redstart and Northern Parula are just a few of the birds that you will likely encounter. Specialties include Swallow-tailed Kite and Swainson’s Warbler. For more information about the featured trails, overnight trip possibilities and river stages, visit www.bartramcanoetrail.com. If you’d rather stay on land and bird, walk along the water’s edge or into the adjacent upland piney woods any time of year. During the summer months, look for Eastern Wood-Pewee, Yellow-throated Vireo, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Indigo Bunting. For more information about the WMA contact the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division at 251-626-5474; 30571 Five Rivers Blvd., Spanish Fort, AL 36527.
|Splinter Hill Bog - Overview|
Located within the headwaters of the Perdido River watershed, Splinter Hill Bog is a biologically rich, Longleaf Pine ecosystem that is characterized by extensive pitcher plant bogs and openly-spaced pines over a gently rolling landscape. Representative parcels of this bog are owned separately by The Nature Conservancy, Forever Wild Land Trust and ADCNR State Lands Division, but together are managed as a large nature preserve accounting for more than 2,200 acres in conservation stewardship. Biologically, Splinter Hill Bog supports a high diversity of plant and animal species including many that are exclusively dependent on this fire-adapted ecosystem. Among these are some of North America’s most sought-after birds such as Bachman’s, Henslow’s and LeConte’s Sparrows. Splinter Hill Bog is represented by two sub-sites (described below), each featuring a trail system that traverses through several of the bog’s characteristic habitats and offers an opportunity to view many of this ecosystem’s associated bird species year around.
|White-topped Pitcher Plants at Splinter Hill Bog|
35A. Splinter Hill Bog -- The Nature Conservancy Property
[GPS] N31.02534 W-87.68503
From the Upper Delta WMA, return to AL 59 and turn right (south) and proceed 3.4 miles to CR 96 and turn left (east). Continue on CR 96 and then turn left at CR 47 [8.5] and proceed 3.4 miles to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) parking lot on the right (south). The TNC parcel is approximately 924 acres and is open to the public from March 1 to October 15. From the parking lot follow an easy-to-walk trail with interpretive signs describing the natural features of the preserve. Along the trail, look for Eastern Wood-Pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Pine Warbler, Bachman’s Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting, which are just some of the breeding songbirds that will likely be encountered. American Kestrel is possible any time of year. The trail leads to a kiosk where there are additional interpretive signs, brochures and special postings. For more information about this tract or The Nature Conservancy, call 251-433-1150 or visit www.nature.org/Alabama.
35B. Splinter Hill Bog Forever Wild Tract
[GPS] N31.02310 W-87.67862
From the TNC parking lot, continue east on CR 47 for 0.4 miles to the Forever Wild Tract parking lot on the left (north). The state-managed parcels make up a combined 1,350 acres that are open year-round. During the hunting season, be sure to check the sheltered billboard before entering the property. From the parking lot follow a primitive trail north into the property. The trail passes through pine-dominated sandhills, blackwater streams, and several pitcher plant bogs. In the higher, sandy portions of the tract, look for Brown-headed Nuthatch, Pine Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Bachman’s Sparrow and soaring raptors. In the drains, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and resident songbirds are common. In winter, American Woodcock frequent these drains. Continuing into the pitcher plant bogs, look for Eastern Wood-pewee, Loggerhead Shrike and Common Yellowthroat. During the winter months, these bogs are home to Sedge Wren and numerous sparrow species including the coveted Henslow’s and LeConte’s Sparrows. Because of the large size of this tract, be prepared to spend at least a half day and bring plenty of water, snacks and insect repellent. For more information about this tract or the Forever Wild program, visit AlabamaForeverWild.com.
|Northern Parula at nest|
36. Cliff's Landing
[GPS] N30.86382 W-87.89517
From Splinter Hill Bog, continue east on CR 47 to I-65. Turn onto I-65 and travel south to exit 31 and turn left on AL 225 [14.0]. Continue southward on AL 225 to Cliff’s Landing Road (CR 7) [6.6] on the right (west). Drive west on CR 7 from AL 225 [1.7] and turn into the large parking lot. One of the best spots in Alabama to view Swallow-tailed and Mississippi Kites, spring and summer, is at Cliff’s Landing south of I-65. Look for kites and other raptors across the river to the west, with best light in the morning. Return to AL 225.
|Bachman's Sparrow||37. Mobile Tensaw Delta Wildlife Management Area
[GPS] N30.81899 W-87.91393
Continue southward on AL 225 to CR 86 on the right (west) [1.9]. Turn onto CR 86 and continue to a fork in the road [0.8] and bear left and continue to the wildlife management area at the end of the road [2.9]. Located along the east bank of the Tensaw River is an 850-acre parcel of the Mobile Tensaw Delta Wildlife Management Area. Purchased by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway mitigation, this area is managed by the ADCNR Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. A variety of habitats may be found on this WMA including flooded hardwood bottoms along the river to upland hardwoods and pines. Also located on the WMA is a lake and peripheral freshwater marshes. During the breeding season common species include Red-shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, Red-eyed Vireo, Prothonotary Warbler and Northern Parula. Swallow-tailed Kite may be spotted flying along the river banks just above the tree line. Hunting season in the management area runs from mid-October to the end of February, though non-consumptive use is permitted year around. For more information contact the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division at 251-626-5474; 30571 Five Rivers Blvd, Spanish Fort, AL 36527.
|Road leading to old town site; Historic Blakeley State Park|
38. Historic Blakeley State Park
[GPS] N30.73235 W-87.90010
Return to AL 225 and continue south to the park entrance [7.5] on the right (west). Turn right and get park information at the welcome station. Follow the road into the site. Park hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and a nominal admission fee is charged. The park gives easy access to the usual woodland species in a pleasant setting.