Pickensville Recreation Area is a wooded linear park situated along the southern edge of Aliceville Lake. The birds you’ll see most often are the usual southeast suburban species as well as a reasonably good selection of local breeding birds (Summer Tanagers, Eastern Wood Pewees and Eastern Phoebes, among others). During spring and fall migration, the woods along the water draw many species, and in winter, mixed-species feeding flocks roam the park. Use the boardwalk to scan the water and the banks in all seasons. Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, and Great Egrets are common sights throughout the year. You can see Double-crested Cormorants in the cooler months, but look carefully for Anhingas, which may be present from April through September. Waterfowl, especially deep-water specialties, such as loons and Horned Grebes, and bay ducks may appear here in winter. Look in and near the vegetation on the banks for tip-up ducks, American Coots and Pied-billed Grebes. As there is both deep water and a dam nearby, look for Bald Eagles throughout the year. Ospreys hunt for fish here, primarily in the warmer seasons.
Leave the picnic/boardwalk area and return to AL 86. Continue west for 2.5 miles and take the hairpin turn onto West Lock and Dam Road (close to the Mississippi state line). This road travels eastward, passing by the recreation area’s campground (on the left), which is limited-access and for registered campers only. Continue along the road for another mile and a half and there is a boat launch area on the left. This site has an extensive paved parking area ringed with trees. There are public restrooms near the boat ramp. You’ll find a great variety of riparian-habitat songbirds in the woods near the boat ramps-expect Northern Parulas, American Redstarts, and Yellow-throated Warblers to be in very good numbers here from spring through fall, along with Yellow-billed Cuckoos. The area seems to be a good habitat for Yellow Warblers, too. The trees bounding the parking lot boast a good selection of flycatchers and there is a possibilty of spotting Fish Crows all along the lake’s edge.
Return to West Lock and Dam Road and continue east. The road continues for roughly 2.5 miles along the water’s edge until it terminates in a loop at the west side of the Tom Bevill Lock and Dam complex. This final stretch of road, from the boat ramp area to the dam, is perhaps the most interesting portion of the recreation area. The open water to the north side of the road allows views of the lake for Bald Eagles and Ospreys, waterfowl in winter, and waders – most numerous and in greatest variety from late spring through fall – on the banks and in the shallower inlets. Habitats on the south side of the road vary from early- to late second-growth, from thick pines to mixed pine-oak woods. The birds here are a cross-section inland Alabama: Blue Grosbeaks, American Goldfinches, Eastern Kingbirds, Orchard Orioles, Summer Tanagers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Prairie Warblers, Hooded Warblers, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Bobwhites, and Wild Turkeys. The loop near the dam has several trails/paths mowed into the woods. Walk any or all of these for potentially closer looks at some of the birds here.
Amenities include picnic tables under the trees, clean restrooms, a concrete path through the wooded portion of the park, and a boardwalk along the water’s edge.
Directions: From the intersection of AL 14 and AL 86 in Pickensville (Pickens County – fuel, food, and lodging available here, in Carrollton, or in Aliceville), travel west on AL 86 for 1 mile. The entrance to the recreation area is on the right.
GPS: 33.2261668 -88.2842499
Pickensville Recreation Area
79 Pickens Recreation Road
Pickensville, AL 35447
Amenities: Parking, restrooms, picnic area, boat launch