Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Newman Wetlands Center & E. L. Huie Pond Field Trip


 I enjoy going out with group of birders both beginners and experts. I learn to sharpen my bird identification skill from expert birders and I also enjoy hearing stories from exuberant beginners. I was keeping my eyes on Atlanta Audubon Society (AAS) event calendar and could not wait for this Saturday to come for my New Year’s first field trip at E. L. Huie Ponds and Newman Wetland Center on Jan 23, 2010. (Photo: Meet at Newman Wetlands Ctr parking lot at 7:30 AM)

With the inclement weather we had in Atlanta lately, snow storm after the New Year and the non-stopping rain after the snow, I was praying for a Sunny Saturday to come…

This trip was arranged by Stan Chapman (AAS volunteer), a 40-year experienced birder and led by the local expert, Lloyd Snyder (we call him Pappy) . Scheduled to meet at the Newman Wetlands Center parking lot at 7:30 in the morning. I had to leave my Cumming home at around 6 AM to catch up with the group. With overcast and 20% humidity and not sure if there would be anyone showing up, I was racing southbound on Georgia highway 400 with a high spirit. Unbelievably, we had a great turnout of 32 people including 6 children, Simone just moved to Atlanta from L.A. and few other great birders, Mark McShane and Molly Collier also joined us in this field trip. After participants introduced themselves, we headed our first stop to Nash Farms Battlefield.

The 204-acre of Nash Farm Battlefield was a confederation battlefield back in 1864 and now it’s a historical Henry County park. (Photo shown here, birders' cars entering Nash Farm Battlefield)
Because its open field, several deer and sparrows of all kinds (Swamp, Savannah, Song, Whit-throated and LeConte’s) have been seen here. After quickly stopped Nash Farms, we headed back to the Newman Wetlands. (Photo above:Pappy is setting up his spotting scope to check on sparrows)

The 32- acre of Newman Wetlands Center (Photo to the right: boardwalk loop around the Wetlands Center) opened in 1995 and was created to demonstrate the importance of preserving wetlands ecology and to provide public education in natural resource conservation. It is a great habitat for over 130 species. Warblers, woodpeckers, nuthatches, kinglets and Swamp Sparrows are seen throughout this area. Besides to be one of the premiere birding hot spots in Georgia, numerous educational programs, exhibit/learning area, a 50-seat auditorium and picnic facilities,  Newman Wetlands Center also hosts a free watershed festival in the first Saturday of October, a great event for entire family to come out. Our last stop of this morning field trip was also the highlight of this trip, E. L. Huie ponds (or E. L. Huie Land Application Facility).


E. L. Huie ponds (photo to the left is one of the five ponds in the E. L. Huie pond complex) is a 4,000-acre wastewater treatment site about 20 miles south of Atlanta and is also a must visit birding hot spot throughout the whole year.

There are 5 huge ponds in this facility and a metal gate opens daily and closes at 6 PM. In winter, most ponds are pretty full and they provide a great habitat (though it was not the original intention to be a wildlife habitat) for ducks and waterfowl. The following species can be seen easily during winter season:

Piled-billed Grebe
Bufflehead
Green-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal
American Coot
Canada Goose
Double-crested Cormorant
Nothern Pintail
Gadwall
Northern Shoveler
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Hooded Merganser

Great Blue Heron
Mallards (see photo below)

In spring and fall when the ponds’ water is low enough, the site becomes a great habitat for the shorebirds. Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plovers can be seen here. Highlight of this trip, we have spotted 3 Northern Pintails, Hooded Mergansers, Green-winged Teal, Double-crested Cormorant and many other species. Bob Braxton and I also spotted a group of American Pipits foraging near the rocks and grass area around one of the largest ponds and Stan Chapman confirmed them with his spotting scope. Pappy and others spotted few Meadowlarks and bluebirds just before the end of the trip.

At the end of the trip, we had observed 52 species and it was a well-worthy field trip despite the foggy weather and strong cold wind. With many experienced birders around helped children and beginning birders to learn and identify a lot of waterfowl with a great detail. One more thing though, not only was Pappy very knowledgeable about birds, Pappy constantly checked on all of us and kept an eye on the folks and to ensure no one left behind the trip and also made sure that we all arrived at the right places safe and sound. 

Map below is for the species we have observed at different locations of this field trip. Click the blue placemarks to see in detail. You can also  use the up/down/right/left arrows (located at top left corner of the map) to move this interactive map.


View Birding Hot Spot- Newman Wetlands Center and E. L. Huie Land Application Facility in a larger map


See eBird.org data for species seen in the past 12 months:

E. L.Huie Bird Species
Newman Wetlands Center Bird Species
Nash Farm Bird Species

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2 comments:

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  1. Nice write-up Linda. Look forward to birding with you again soon.
    Bob Braxton

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fall migration is near and hope to see you soon!

    ReplyDelete

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