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November Field Trip: Wheeler NWR
November 19, 2016, 7:00 am–6:00 pm
Sandhill Cranes by alabamabirder.com/Charles Grisham.
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, near Decatur, is the winter home to thousands of sandhill cranes, numerous waterfowl species and a small population of whooping cranes, and for these reasons, it is the destination for this ever-popular November all-day field trip.
Plan to join us on Saturday, November 19, to view these birds, plus various gull and hawk species, and whatever decides to surprise us! Wheeler NWR (GPS: N 34.5480, W 86.9505) serves as the gateway to the North Alabama Birding Trail; you can read more about it here: http://alabamabirdingtrails.com/sites/wheeler-national-wildlife-refuge-visitor-center/
Meeting Place and Travel Plans: Our meeting place is the parking lot behind the Wells Fargo Bank at the Fieldstown Road Shopping Center in Gardendale, just off I-65N at exit #271 (665 Fieldstown Road, Gardendale, AL, 35071). Turn right on to Fieldstown Road, another right onto Odum Road, and an immediate left into the shopping center. We will leave at 7:00 a.m. (please arrive early for pre-trip instructions) and caravan up I-65N toward Decatur to the Priceville exit (# 334), a drive of approximately 60 miles, and reconvene at the Hardee’s at 8:15 a.m.
After a rest break, we will announce further details. Dwight Cooley, newly retired as refuge manager, will be lead us through various sections of the refuge, such as White Springs dike, Arrowhead Landing at Limestone Bay, Beaverdam Peninsula with its viewing platform, and the Buckeye Unit of the Refuge. One major bonus is that we will be able to travel to areas of the refuge that are behind gates that are normally locked and inaccessible to cars.
This will be an all-day trip, so bring a picnic lunch, drinks and snacks. Remember, weather this time of year can be changeable, so dressing in layers is advised. Have a full tank of gas. Bring your binoculars and spotting scopes. For those who wish, supper may be shared at a local restaurant at day’s end. Trip leader: Greg Harber, 205-251-2133, home/evenings, or 205-807-8055, day of field trip only.