Tanglewood Park is a large park that has the Yadkin River as its western border. Golf tournaments and a winter Christmas light display are the major attractions, but it also now is part of the N.C. Birding Trail. There also are a campground, tennis courts and a large swimming pool. Tanglewood has its own exit on I-40 West just past Clemmons. There will be a fee at the tollbooth, or a very long walk: this is the place for “car birding”.

Red-headed woodpecker
Photo by Terry Eckhardt

Previously, Red-headed Woodpeckers could be found anywhere in the park. Several spent the winter of 2010-2011 at the park, and were most commonly seen in the woods below the BMX track at the southwest end of the park. However, sightings otherwise have been infrequent in recent years. The Manor House is just after the stables, to the left on a hill past the large oak trees. There is ample parking near the rose gardens, and the large trees are great for warblers. Another great spot for woodland birds is in the gardens behind the Manor House. Below the gardens, the wildflower trail may yield Wood Thrush, Ovenbird and Pileated Woodpecker, with sparrows around the pastures.

On the left past the tennis courts is a picnic area. Beyond the shelter and toilet building Barred Owls have nested, and the access road to cabins is good for woodpeckers and Ovenbird. At the road intersection turn left for Mallard Lake. Check for Pied-billed Grebe, an honest duck, Baltimore Oriole, Eastern KIngbird and a possible Red-headed Woodpecker, then return to the intersection. Turn left toward the golf Club House and stop at the little church. The cemetery is very good in spring for warblers, and Cedar Waxwing have nested there.

Barred Owl
Photo by Claudia Nielson

Taking the road past the locomotive, you will wind down a slope to Skilpot Lake. Park in the turnout on the left. Check the pond, then walk the Yadkin River Nature Trail with its 12 interpretive signs about area birds and other wildlife. Forsyth Audubon partnered with the park to create the trail. Follow the trail past bottomland woods to a marsh wetland and out to the field of native warm season grasses. The gravel road, now known as Audubon Trail, leads to the BMX Track.

Great-blue heron rookery across Yadkin River from park
Photo by David Collins

The bottomland woods can be a good place to spot a Barred Owl. In winter months, look for sparrows and kinglets. In summer, Northern Parula and Yellow-throated Warbler nest here. Pine Warbler, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Red-shouldered Hawk nest in the pines along the golf course. However, the marsh is your main destination: ducks, herons, Common Yellowthroats, Indigo Buntings and Red-winged Blackbirds frequent the area. In winter and spring, watch for swamp and other sparrows.  If your time is limited, you can cut over to the river and follow the path back to the parking area.

The meadow adjacent to the wetland has been planted with warm season native grasses under a plan developed by park staff and Forsyth Audubon. Hopefully, Eastern Meadowlark, Grasshopper Sparrow and other grassland birds will find the area inviting. Purple Martins and other swallow species already visit here, and the grasses are full of goldfinches each fall and sparrows in the winter.  At the far end of the meadow, there is another wetland with an oxbow lake remaining from the former course of the Yadkin River. This area is home to nesting Wood Duck and Prothonotary Warbler. David Disher, a Forsyth Audubon member, has installed nest tubes for the warblers and worked with the park to site new boxes for the ducks. In recent years, Barred Owls also have nested in this corner of the park.