Spring is just around the corner!
There are so many wonderful places to explore in spring, I can't list them all. Ok, that isn't exactly right as we have 180+ places on the Watchable Wildlife web site; however I am including the best of the best in spring in Tennessee. See the region of the state where you live or where you are visiting for many more places to explore on the "Where to Watch" page.
White Lake Refuge (Dyer Co.) is a wonderful place for seeing wading birds, shorebirds, and forest birds in spring. Now (April through June) is an excellent time to visit. There is a hiking path through the woods to a boardwalk that needs some repairs, but the trip is worth it!
Eagle Lake Refuge (Shelby Co.) has a viewing platform built using Watchable Wildlife Endowment Funds from license plate sales and individual contributions (thank you!) and overlooks the floodplain of the Mississippi River. This area can support a variety of shorebirds and waterfowl in spring.
Tigrett WMA (Dyer Co.) has a couple nice access points into the bottomland forests. There is lake access at a boardwalk/trail that was destroyed in the flood of May 2010, which we are hoping to repair. The trail is accessible from the north and south side of the river. You may see Bald Eagles, wading birds, and a wide variety of forest birds, including migrating warblers.
Shelby Farms (Shelby Co.) is probably the best place to visit in spring in the Memphis area. A series of trails and roads through a variety of habitats can produce just about any bird species found in Tennessee under the rigth conditions. Family friendly access as well makes this place a wonderful site for a family outing.
Big Hill Pond State Park (McNairy Co.) is a less well known site, but this park has a lot of hiking trails through mixed woodlands that can be excellent hiking and birding in spring. Check the lake for an Osprey or Bald Eagle!
Bark Camp Barrens WMA (Coffee Co.) is a great place to see and hear Henslow's Sparrows. This bird is an uncommon breeding bird in the state and is only found nesting in a handful of locations and counties in Tennessee. You will also find Dickcissels, Eastern Meadowlark, and plenty of Field Sparrows.
Cheatham WMA (Cheatham Co.) is a 14,000+ acre forested area with a variety of forest types and conditions. This is a phenomenal place to look for warblers and other migrating songbirds in spring. Some Cerulean Warblers still breed here, which may be the last concentration of breeding Ceruleans in middle Tennessee. At dusk, Whip-poor-wills can be heard singing all around the management area.
Bells Bend Park (Davidson Co.) is an 800 acre area of mixed forest and grasslands. Henslow's Sparrows are found nesting here, in addition probably the largest population of Northern Bobwhite left in the county! Trails loop around and throughout the park. Definitely worth checking out this spring!
Radnor Lake State Park (Davidson Co.) is the premier birding place in spring in the Nashville area. This may be the best place to find rare warblers and flycatchers, but the common migrants can be quite common in spring. There are weekly bird walks led by members of the Nashville chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society. Find out about the weekly walks here and on Facebook.
Long Hunter State Park (Davidson Co.) is has miles of trails, several access points to Percy Priest Lake, and lots of wonderful wildlife and wildflowers to see. Trails walk you through cedar glades, mature hardwood forests, and lake shore. The Friends of Long Hunter State Park lead regular walks in spring, so check them out on Facebook.
Forks of the River WMA (Knox Co.) is a WMA, but it also has a paved greenway that travels along the river and through the woods. A wide variety of wildlife can be seen from the trails throughout spring.
Bridgestone-Firestone Centennial Wilderness (White and Van Buren Co.) is a large tract of primarily forested land. There are scores of miles of trails through hardwood forests, some overlooking gorges and leading to waterfalls. The area is fairly remote and is a nice quiet place to hike and view wildlife.
Kyker Bottoms Refuge (Blount Co.) is a fairly small, but excellent place for birds and other wildlife in spring. There are a couple access points to the area and viewing areas and trails to explore. There is a mix of open grasslands and shrubs and some mixed forest.
Standifer Gap Marsh (Hamilton Co.) is a privately owned marsh/wetland, but is open to the public. The marsh supports breeding Virginia Rails and Least Bitterns, but also more commonly seen birds like Red-winged Blackbirds, Indigo Buntings, and a variety of other waterbirds.
Frozen Head State Park (Morgan Co.) is one of the best hikes in spring in Tennessee. Miles of trails travel up and over the mountains, with a firetower at the top of one mountain that provides one of the best views of the countryside. In spring, Cerulean Warblers are abundant and a hike can lead to the discovery of over 20 species of warbler, plus ruffed grouse (if you're lucky!).
Roan Mountain State Park (Carter Co.) reaches one of the highest points in east Tennessee, and definitely provides one of the best views of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Detailed directions on the site page provide the visitor with excellent information on where and when to find a lot of local breeding birds found scarcely (if at all) in the rest of the state!!