City opens elevated birding platform

Alabaster and state officials join Alabama Audubon Society members on Aug. 11 as they cut the ribbon on the new birdwatching platform at Alabaster's Limestone Park. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Local birdwatchers now have a front-row seat to one of Shelby County’s most active wildlife spots as Alabaster opened a new birding observation deck at Limestone Park on Aug. 11.

Alabaster teamed up with the Birmingham Audubon Society to construct the handicap-accessible wooden observation deck, which is elevated about 5 feet above a large wetland area in Limestone Park. Limestone Park is at 2400 U.S. 31, and is a few miles south of the Colonial Promenade shopping center.

The end of the walkway features a bench and a partial roof to allow visitors to view the park’s range of wildlife.

Alabaster Mayor David Frings said the city purchased the land and was looking to transform the land into city ballparks in the early 2000s, but determined constructing the fields would be cost-prohibitive.

“As it turns out, we were able to benefit two groups with this land,” Frings said, noting Limestone Park also is used by a local radio-control airplane club. “We’ve had a lot of things flying around here for a long time. This has really turned out to be a great investment for the city.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony came shortly after Limestone Park was named a “magnet site” on the new Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail, which features 38 sites in Shelby and several other surrounding counties.

Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Birmingham Audubon Society led a bird-watching field trip to Limestone Park.

Limestone Park features open meadows, Tupelo gum swamps and nearby woodlands, and attracts a wide range of birds, such as great egrets, anhingas, great blue herons, woodstorks and roseate spoonbills. Many birds recently spotted at Limestone Park are rarely seen in central Alabama, according to the Audubon Society.

“We see birds here that we don’t typically see in central Alabama,” said Birmingham Audubon Society President Hans Paul. “What we have here is a concrete example of what we can create when we partner with others.”

Limestone Park is open daily from 6 a.m.-dusk.