Habitats: Grassland, bottomland hardwood swamp, fresh water marsh, riparian.
Key birds: Summer: Baltimore Oriole, Prothonotary Warbler. Winter: Sparrows, Winter Wren.
Best times to bird: Year round.
Description: Tanglewood is a large, 1100 acre, multiple-use county park nestled against the Yadkin River. It is best known for its two championship golf courses, but also includes hiking and horseback riding trails, conference facilities, picnic shelters, and a large natural area along the river offering wildlife viewing opportunities.
Directions: Exit Interstate 40 at the Tanglewood exit (Exit #182). Turn south onto Harper Road. Go 0.3 miles to the traffic signal and turn right onto US-158, Clemmons Road. Go half a mile and turn into the park entrance. The Welcome Center is just ahead on the left.
Birding Highlights: As you drive into the park, you will pass between the stables and a grassy field. In summer look for Barn Swallows swooping low over this field. The entrance to the parking area behind the manor house is on your left, about 100 yards beyond the house itself. Start by checking the huge oaks between the parking area and the road. In summer look for Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Blue Jay, and White-breasted Nuthatch. In winter Yellow-rumped Warbler and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker are typical. Walk the gravel road starting at the Fragrance Garden into the woods. Baltimore Orioles nest in the tall trees along the creek on your left, Eastern Bluebirds use the nest boxes and a variety of woodland birds can be found along the trail in any season. The trail leads to an earthen dam. From the top of the dam, in the winter, look for waterfowl on the lake. At almost anytime the dam provides an excellent observation platform to look for passerines in the trees below it and in the scrubby field beyond.
Return to the parking area and follow the one-way drive back to the main park road. Turn left and proceed to the four-way intersection. The road becomes one-way and drops down to Skilpot Lake. There is a gate at the entrance to the road on the left. If the gate is open it is permissible to drive down this road or to park in the small gravel lot just past the road. The gravel road borders a wooded swamp. In the late afternoon on a late winter day listen for Barred Owl and Winter Wren. Wood Duck and a variety of woodpeckers are common in the swamp. The road emerges from the swamp to a short stretch with a golf course and a row of tall pine trees on one side and thick underbrush on the other. Check the pines for Brown-headed Nuthatch. The brush on the other side of the road is great for sparrows, including Fox and White-throated in winter. White-crowned Sparrow is frequently found in this area in some years. Beyond the brushy area, the road borders a low marsh. There is an iron observation platform at the edge of the marsh, which provides an excellent vantage for birders. Wood Duck, Mallard, and Canada Geese are frequently seen escorting young about the marsh in season. Red-winged Blackbirds nest here in good numbers, and Indigo Buntings and American Goldfinches are common in summer. Wilson's Snipe is frequently seen here in winter, particularly in years when the marsh has been drained and burned by the park managers. At the end of the marsh another gravel road branches off to the right, across the head of the marsh, through a large grassy field. In the winter look in the marsh at the beginning of the road for Swamp Sparrow. In the summer check the swamp at the far end of the field for Wood Duck, Prothonotary Warbler and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
General Information: Tanglewood is open from 7:00 AM to sunset every day except Christmas. The entrance fee to Tanglewood is $2/vehicle. Rest room facilities that are open all year can be found at the Welcome Center, at the stables, and at the golf clubhouse. Outside the park, there are numerous restaurants and motels in Clemmons.
DeLorme map grid: page 36, A2
North Carolina Travel Map grid: F2
For more information: Tanglewood Welcome Center, (336) 778-6300; http://www.forsyth.cc/tanglewood/park_History.aspx