My friend Maura warned me recently that bird-watching was a sure sign of encroaching old age. I say “Bah!” Or, even, “Well, so what?” Who can’t love a pastime which can be enjoyed at any level of proficiency, requires no special equipment (although field glasses help), and can be practiced anywhere? A walk is nice enough, but a walk when you spot an indigo bunting or a busy group of cedar waxwings is a memorable walk.
There are several good spots in and around Decatur if you are similarly inclined. Maybe it’s our heavy tree cover or maybe it’s our piedmont location, we get a lot of species through the area, particularly during spring and fall migration.
The Decatur Cemetery is old and lovely and a wonderful place to visit any time. Someone else can write about its rich history, I like it because I invariably spot a few red-headed woodpeckers when I visit.
I love that dramatic plumage, especially when he flies by. I’ve also seen indigo buntings there–my favorite bird.
Close by, the Lullwater Preserve on the Emory University campus is a great year-round location for spotting a favorite species. The lake attracts water fowl, Canadian geese and mallards mostly, but there’s a blue heron there very often, and I’ve occasionally seen a white one as well. Once we surprised a pair of little green herons, my only sighting of that species. I’m hoping to see them again someday, and also to see a wood duck, I’ve heard they are there.
And I get a kick out of watching the belted kingfishers, with their staccato flight (always seem to be missing a cylinder) and their oversized heads.
The lovely campus of Agnes Scott College looks promising although I’ve not tried it for birding. However, my friend Maura knows the campus very well. One day soon I’ll grab an extra set of binoculars and and see if I can win her over to a great pastime.
Here’s a link to an entertaining local blog about birding in Decatur: Birding Decatur, Ga. Bruce, the blogger, reports what he’s seen at home and on his travels, and the images he posts are spectacular. If you spot something memorable or wish to report a sighting you can post it to Bruce’s blog and of course I’d love to see it here, too.
Sadly for me, the images posted here are not my own, they are from the National Digital Library, run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a marvelous resource.
Decatur Cemetery: the main entrance to the cemetery is on Commerce but you can take Bell street off Church Street, parallel park for free on Bell, and walk into the cemetery. Almost always available, unless there’s a service going on.
Lullwater Preserve: parking at Emory is a challenge but the deck at the Clairemont Road entrance is free and open to the public after four o’clock weekdays and all weekend. From there, follow Starvine Road west on foot, past the child care center, through the gate, and in a few yards you’ll see the footpath on your right. The footpath is a loop and takes about 45 minutes at a leisurely pace.