Birding and Hiking in Atlanta, GA

A while back my friend Kelly B moved to Atlanta, GA.  She travels a lot with her work so she has built up frequent flyer miles.  She used some of her miles to buy me a ticket to come see her.  It was great to see where they live and spend some quality time with her and her family.  Her children are wonderful and it was great to visit with her husband Mike.  We ate wonderful southern food.  The fried green tomatoes at Mary Mac’s Tea Room were amazing!

The weather was rainy almost the whole time I was there.  But we didn’t let it stop us.  Kelly knows I’m almost obsessed with birding.  She was happy to combine birding with hiking and exploring the sights around Atlanta.

Our first day we stopped in Henderson Park which was very near Kelly’s house.  My birding apps were showing a lot of warbler activity in this park.  Kelly didn’t even know it existed so it was a nice surprise for her.  The park had nice trails, open areas and a small lake.


Hooded Warbler – see what I had to deal with trying to get a photo! I almost didn’t get this bird. Thankfully we can see enough of the bird to identify it properly.


Northern Rough-Winged Swallow. I happened to catch it when it landed for a brief moment.


Eastern Towhee


Gray Catbird


Northern Cardinal


Song Sparrow

But I found the conditions very difficult to bird in.  I’m used to low open trees, desert areas and sunny blue skies in New Mexico.  Atlanta has 100’+ high trees, dense undergrowth and low light.  Add in rainy weather and I was feeling way out of my element.  Good thing Kelly was helping me look for birds or I never would have seen any much less got a few photos.  Most of my pictures aren’t worth posting because they are blurry or the bird is behind way too much foliage or the light was just too low.  But I did manage to get a few decent photos of birds.


Trail at Kennesaw National Battlefield Park

After the short stop at Henderson Park we went to Kennesaw National Battlefield Park.  The park was really nice but the weather really prohibited us from exploring too much.  The main mountain was completely covered in low clouds.  The staff at the park suggested we walk the one-mile trail near the parking area.  It was a beautiful trail and identified the various trees and foliage in the area.  It had a pretty babbling brook too.  But again the foliage was very dense and the canopy very high.  The birdsong was abundant and I was so excited to hear all the variety of birds, but the photo opportunities were very small.  But I did manage to get several new birds walking the trail.

From there we went to downtown Atlanta to Piedmont Park.  Kelly figured we had a better chance of seeing birds since the park is very open with trees spaced far apart and open grass areas.  When we got there the rain was really coming down.  But we weren’t to be stopped.  We carried umbrellas and braved the weather.  There were almost no people out there (they weren’t as crazy as us!).  Just the odd jogger out for a run.

We walked to the lake at the park and the sight took my breath away.  The rainy weather created the most beautiful setting of the lake and Piedmont Park Conservancy building.  I just had to take some pictures.  I wasn’t sure how the photos would turn out since the light was so low and it was lightly raining.  I had to balance the umbrella with one hand and take the photo with the other.  I just hoped for the best.  But I couldn’t be happier with the results.


Piedmont Park Conservancy Building

We walked the park for a while but eventually we had had enough of the wet weather.


Chipping Sparrow


Bea with a giant earthworm!

The next day we again stopped at Henderson Park and the morning was very nice.  We took Kelly’s daughter Beatrix (Bea) with us.  She loves the outdoors.  Since it wasn’t very wet and rainy we were able to explore more of the trails around the park.  Bea found a variety of insects to play with.  Her favorite being an earth worm that was the longest we had ever seen! Thankfully we convinced her it didn’t want to go home with us but instead wanted to stay in the forest with its friends.  Whew!


Kelly and Bea at Cochran Shoals park on the Chattahoochee River


Kelly, Kelly and Bea on a trail at Cochran Shoals


Chattahoochee River


Me and Bea on the Chattahoochee River


Boardwalk through the wetlands at Cochran Shoals park on the Chattahoochee River

From there we went to Cochran Shoals park which is part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.  The river was huge! Made the poor Rio Grande look small and shallow.  The trails were really nice.  I especially enjoyed the boardwalk through the wetlands area.  No new birds were seen there but it was lots of fun to explore together.

We dropped Bea off at home and went back out for more fun.  We next went to Stone Mountain Park.  The weather was cooperating very well.  So we decided to hike to the summit.  It was tough! But a fabulous experience! The views were amazing since it had rained so much.  There was virtually no haze and there was even bits of blue sky trying to show itself.  Kelly is a geologist so she gave me a geology lesson while climbing and pointed out interesting things.  It made the hike very enjoyable and interesting.  I saw a butterfly while hiking Stone Mountain (the only one I saw the whole trip!).


Red-Spotted Purple Admiral (Limenitis Arthemis)


View from the top of Stone Mountain

We still had some time to us after hiking the mountain so we decided to check out more of the park.  We walked the Songbird trail which is a trail designed to encourage a large variety of birds with a variety of habitats.  I got several new birds hiking this trail.

The trip seemed to end too soon.  I had so much fun with Kelly and her family. And I got 11 new birds to add to my life list.  I wonder what all I might have seen if the weather had been nicer?

We took one more wet rainy drive through Stone Mountain park before Kelly took me to the airport.  No birds were out but we did see a coyote.  When we were at the Stone Mountain visitor’s center we saw a poster showing the mammals around the area.  They showed a coyote and Kelly said she didn’t believe there were any coyotes in Atlanta.  We we were shocked to see one run right across the road in front of us.  She said that there’s one coyote in Atlanta. 🙂  DSC_1970

It was sad to say goodbye but Kelly assures me she will fly me out again later this year.  We laughed because we spent our whole time outdoors.  Usually we fit in some thrift store shopping together.  Next time!

One thought on “Birding and Hiking in Atlanta, GA

  1. Great trip report. You surely enjoyed yourself in spite of the weather and got some great photos. Liked the coyote. I know you can’t wait to get back out to the South for more birds and great cuisine.

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