Sandy Creek Park
by Kent Fiala
Sandy Creek Park is a small but productive birding location within the city limits of Durham, North Carolina. The site of a long-abandoned sewage treatment plant, the 102 acre tract was about to be put up for sale by the City of Durham in the early 1990s. But following its identification as a key access parcel in the 1992 New Hope Creek corridor Master Plan, the property instead became a City of Durham park in 1997, with development complete several years later. Dangerous sewage treatment facilities were demolished, parking and restrooms were provided, and a .75 mile paved Sandy Creek Trail was built connecting the park entrance off 15-501 with Pickett Road. Long-term plans call for extension of Sandy Creek Trail; most of the current trail is contained within Sandy Creek Park.
In spring, the swampy area along the paved trail usually hosts Prothonotary Warblers and Wood Ducks. The upland woods has a few Wood Thrushes. Typical resident and migrant songbirds of the piedmont may be seen throughout. The pond often hosts Spotted or Solitary Sandpipers during migration, and occasionally other shorebird species have been seen. Northern Rough-winged Swallows also may be seen at the pond.
In winter, the upland woods usually hosts a few Winter Wrens. Sparrows are numerous in winter, mostly Field, Fox, Song, Swamp, and White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. A Lincoln's Sparrow has been seen here.
To drive to the park, take Pickett Road and turn south onto Sandy Creek Drive literally right at the west end of the Pickett Road overpass over US 15-501. Follow Sandy Creek Drive to its end.