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…not birding

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Off the Porch with Judy and Don Self There are some days when you get up and just aren’t in the mood for birding. But then, while the tea is brewing, you take a quick peek out the kitchen window to see who might be hanging around your feeders. After al …

…once a year.

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Off The Porch with Judy and Don Self Once a year, observers all over North America set aside a morning during the height of nesting season to travel their assigned routes identifying and counting all of the breeding birds that they encounter as part of …

13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey Commemorative Edition

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Written in the rich tradition of Southern story-telling, 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey has captivated generations of readers of all ages with its colorful and suspenseful legends. In these tales of spectral visitations, Windham and Figh infuse each sto …

A Good Valentine in the Black Belt!

Located in County | What you’ll find: Archeological | Architectural | Arts & Culture | Birding | Camping | Dining | Historical | Museum | Outdoor Recreation | Shopping | To Delete | Trips

We got a good valentine from Mother Nature today. I am sitting on the front porch beneath the gently tinkling wind chime listening to the train go by. It is pleasant out here in just a sweater. The sun is shining brightly overhead. It is almost enough to make me forget the frigid temperatures of the last few weeks. I made a trip to Kentucky this week. From the time we got just south of Birmingham all the rest of the way, the roadsides were covered with snow and icicles were hanging from the rocks.

A Renovator, Not a Preservationist

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Monroe County is best known for being the home of Harper Lee’s iconic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”. This time the trip was about early history and the Federal Road. The Federal Road was the way west out to the colonies. There has been a lot of interest in it lately because its Bicentennial is coming up in a few years in 2014.

A Visit to the National Voting Rights Museum

Located in County | What you’ll find: Historical | Museum

Selma is famous for its Selma March, commemorated every spring with a Jubilee Bridge Crossing. It also has the National Voting Rights Museum open all year around. The museum has recently moved to new headquarters from a historic building on Water Street.

Autumn Birding in the Black Belt

Located in County | What you’ll find: Birding | Outdoor Recreation

These two Corps of Engineers parks offer opportunities to bird in a variety of habitats including upland mixed pine hardwood forest, cypress sloughs, lake and shoreline. And while spring and summer will produce the largest variety of species, our most recent visit on the afternoon of November 10 allowed us to enjoy twenty-six of the species that spend the winter with us.

Birding at Claiborne Dam Site East Park, Monroe County, AL

Located in County | What you’ll find: Birding | Outdoor Recreation

This US Corps of Engineers facility is one of the few places on the Piney Woods Birding Trail that has it all. In addition to its variety of habitats, it is the take-out for paddles from the Corps of Engineers Parks located upriver (PWBT stops 8, 11 and 13). The Alabama River Canoe Trail portage extends through the Dam Site East Park from the upper boat ramp to the lower boat ramp. Isaac Creek Campground provides 60 campsites, all with water and electrical hookups, in a hardwood grove between Claiborne Lake and Isaac Creek. And the Alabama River Museum offers exhibits and hands-on displays for young and old alike.

Birding Backbone Creek

Located in County | What you’ll find: Archeological | Architectural | Arts & Culture | Birding | Camping | Dining | Historical | Museum | Outdoor Recreation | Shopping | To Delete | Trips

The many blocks of the David K. Nelson Wildlife Management Area offer some exceptional birding opportunities. One of our favorites is Backbone Creek in southernmost Greene County. It’s located just a few miles northeast of Demopolis and provides easy access to the backwaters of the Black Warrior River and Lake Demopolis.

Birding Chickasaw State Park

Located in County | What you’ll find: Archeological | Architectural | Arts & Culture | Birding | Camping | Dining | Historical | Museum | Outdoor Recreation | Shopping | To Delete | Trips

Off the Porch with Judy and Don Self The 12th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count, our 4-day mid-winter avian scavenger hunt was great fun. At last count, our species total was 70 for Gallion. The weather was great as usual and the birds were for the most …

Birding Haines Island Park, Monroe County

Located in County | What you’ll find: Archeological | Architectural | Arts & Culture | Birding | Camping | Dining | Historical | Museum | Outdoor Recreation | Shopping | To Delete | Trips

For a variety of habitats in a compact area, it’s hard to beat the US Corps of Engineers Haines Island Park. Whether you’re inclined to drive, hike, canoe or kayak, Haines Island offers a fantastic opportunity to observe nature in a unique setting. Birding can be spectacular in April and May as Neotropical migrants pause to refuel in the luxuriant hardwoods of the park. The summer months offer over 100 species of breeding birds. Fall again funnels large numbers of migrants through the park. And the thick undergrowth along the lake margins shelter large flocks of finches and sparrows in winter.

Birding Old Lock 1 Park & Bashi Creek

Located in County | What you’ll find: Archeological | Architectural | Arts & Culture | Birding | Camping | Dining | Historical | Museum | Outdoor Recreation | Shopping | To Delete | Trips

With spring migration winding down and the breeding season in full swing, May is a great time to bird southwest Alabama’s floodplain forests. Two of our favorites are Old Lock 1 Park and Bashi Creek Public Use Area. Both are maintained by the US Corps of Engineers. Management Rd, Demopolis, AL 36732; phone: 334-289-3540 and both provide excellent access to the backwaters of the Tombigbee River.

Birding the Bells Landing Park and Tallatchee Creek

Located in County | What you’ll find: Archeological | Architectural | Arts & Culture | Birding | Camping | Dining | Historical | Museum | Outdoor Recreation | Shopping | To Delete | Trips

Off The Porch with Judy and Don Self Bells Landing Park is another of our favorite places to bird and critter watch. This is another site along the Alabama River that offers a variety of habitats in a compact area. It is easily birded on foot, but putt …

Celebrating the Season’s Flowers

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I know spring is here when I see the daffodils, the bridal wreath, the flowering quince and the camellias all abloom. We’ve had such an unseasonably cold winter that our earliest spring blooms are more appreciated than usual. My wonderful camellias that usually grace the garden from November to April have just started blooming. My white camellia is at least 20 feet tall.

Changing Seasons in Southwest Alabama

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A glance at the calendar, our backyard bird feeders and the forest tells us that we still have a few weeks to go before the end of winter. Although we’ve had red and dark green of Teaberries to brighten the forest floor and occasional bursts of colorful fungi after a frontal passage, winter in Alabama’s hardwood forests is still largely a study in browns and grays.

Christmas Traditions in Evergreen, Alabama

Located in County | What you’ll find: Archeological | Architectural | Arts & Culture | Birding | Camping | Dining | Historical | Museum | Outdoor Recreation | Shopping | To Delete | Trips

No one is left out in Evergreen Alabama when it comes to celebrating Christmas—from your companion animals, children, and the elderly citizens, there is something for everyone to enjoy. My favorites include The Christmas Journey—a live nativity scene presented by the members of the Community of Christ Church on the corner of Rural and Martin Streets a block from Historic Downtown Evergreen one weekend out of the month of December. The church members dress up as members of that Nativity scene of long-ago with live animals; visitors can drive by or park and get out and walk along the sidewalk with luminaries lighting their way. This is a project in which the church members give back to their community—a gift to Evergreen—every year.

Fooling Folks into the Black Belt

Located in County | What you’ll find: Archeological | Architectural | Arts & Culture | Birding | Camping | Dining | Historical | Museum | Outdoor Recreation | Shopping | To Delete | Trips

A group of tourists from Michigan recently visited: they traveled through Selma and walked across the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge that is the landmark of the Voting Rights Movement. From there, it was on to Gees Bend and then to Black Belt Treasures before dinner at Gaines Ridge.

Gardening Season

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Flowers from my friend Cindy's yard. by Linda Vice, The Front Porch Philosopher Spring came yesterday. It felt like it had been here for at least two weeks already. People I know are turning on their air conditioners already. Most of them are middl …

Ghosts of the Black Belt

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photo collage from Live Oak Cemetery, courtesy of Ben Burford Ghost stories and ghostly events echo from the banks of our rivers and the front porches of our historic homes. An antebellum home with a restaurant now known for pie but originally filled w …

Great Backyard Bird Count

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OFF THE PORCH with Judy and Don Self Click for larger image As we write, the 115th Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is about to get under way. Between the 14th of December and 5th of January, tens of thousands of volunteers will take to the field to …

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