Located in northwest Davidson County on the edge of the Western Highland Rim, the 1500-acre Beaman Park offers residents and visitors a deep-woods birding experience somewhat different from that in the nearby Nashville Basin. With ridge tops and elevations just under 1000 feet, deep hollows and the clear waters of the Little Marrowbone, Henry, and Bull Creeks , the park’s flora includes species not common in the Nashville Basin, such as mountain laurel, wild azalea, and blueberries. Wildflowers also abound. In addition to the usual Middle Tennessee beauties, one can find the rare lady’s slipper orchid as well as Eggert’s sunflower, formerly a federally-listed threatened species. The nesting bird population is equally interesting with numerous pairs of Worm-eating Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, Ovenbirds, and Kentucky Warblers that can be heard throughout the breeding season from April into late June.
|Two Beaman Park summer residents, the Scarlet Tanager (left) and Louisiana Waterthrush. Photos by Dave Hawkins Photography, Nashville,TN.|
The Marrowbone Creek area in the vicinity of Beaman Park was regularly visited by early Nashville birders. The land comprising the park was purchased in the 1970s by a group of doctors who used it as a hunting preserve. In 1996, they sold it to the Metro Nashville government for half its appraised value. Funds for the purchase were donated by Mrs. Sally Beaman in honor of her husband Alvin, a prominent Nashville businessman and civic leader.
Beaman Park is best accessible from Eatons Creek Road in western Davidson County. From I-40 west of Nashville, exit onto Briley Parkway (SR 155) north (Exit 204), or from I-24 north of Nashville, exit onto Briley Parkway west (Exit 43). Take Briley Parkway to Exit 24, Ashland City Highway/SR 12. Exit onto on Ashland City Highway south, away from Ashland City. After 0.4 miles, turn left at the flashing caution sign onto Eatons Creek Road. Go 4 miles to the intersection with Old Hickory Boulevard.
To get to the park nature center, turn left onto Old Hickory Boulevard and watch for the nature center on your right. To get to the trailhead parking area described below in the Birding Beaman Park section, continue northward on Eatons Creek Road for 0.9 miles past Old Hickory Boulevard, and turn left onto Little Marrowbone Road. The park entrance is 0.4 miles farther on the left at 4111 Little Marrowbone Road (coordinates 36.2735°N, 86.9018°W). Upon entering the gates, make an immediate left turn and continue to the Creekside Trailhead parking area.
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Kentucky Warbler. Photo by Mary Zimmerman.
Ovenbird. Photo by Dave Hawkins Photography, Nashville,TN.
BIRDING BEAMAN PARK
Birding at Beaman Park is best in spring throughout migration and into the breeding and nesting season. Most target species can be observed by following the white-blazed Henry Hollow Loop trail (2.1 miles, rated moderate for elevation change) from the Creekside Trailhead parking area. Allop about 2 hours for birding this trail. Before departing on the trail, listen for Northern Parulas and Yellow-throated Warblers in the parking area as they seem to be fairly faithful to this location. Both Summer and Scarlet Tanagers are also often heard from this area.
The Henry Hollow Loop Trail begins at the far end of the parking area beyond the park information sign. Follow the trail straight along the Henry Creek, which is on the left. Just after leaving the parking lot, you come to a split in the trail. Continue straight along the creek rather than taking the right fork which ascends to the ridge top. Several pairs of nesting Louisiana Waterthrush can be heard and seen along Henry Creek from April until June. Also listen for Worm-eating warblers, which are on both sides of the creek. Kentucky Warblers frequent this area as well, especially to the right of the path. Interspersed with their songs and calls will be those of Eastern Wood-Pewees, Acadian Flycatchers, Red-eyed Vireos, Wood Thrushes, Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and other forest birds common to Middle Tennessee. Roughly a third of a mile after leaving the parking area, the trail makes a sharp right turn that begins a slow and gentle switchback to ascend the slope to the ridge top. In this area it is also possible to hear and see Kentucky and Worm-eating Warblers as well as Ovenbirds.
|Eventually, the Henry Hollow Loop trail intersects with the red-blazed Ridgetop Trail. The area around this junction appears to be ground zero for the park’s Ovenbird population. The junction of the two trails offers some tempting possibilities; however, taking the RidgeTop trail to the right will lead you along an old logging road to the Ridgetop parking lot. Keep your eyes and ears open for Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Yellow-throated Vireos along this section. About a quarter of a mile after the right turn onto the Ridgetop trail, the Henry Hollow Trail turns right to descend back to the Henry Creek and the Creekside parking lot. Rather than taking this option, continue a short distance on the Ridgetop trail to the parking area. Here the forest opens up offering some good edge birding. Indigo Buntings are easily observed in this area.|
The Ridgetop Trail trailhead. Photo by Mary Zimmerman.
Follow the paved road down to the Creekside parking area. Notice a stand of pine trees on the right side of the road about half way down. Listen for the Pine and Yellow-throated Warblers that frequent this stand. Once at the bottom, turn right to return to the Creekside parking area.
There are picnic tables and portable toilets at both Creekside and Ridgetop parking lots.
The Beaman Park Nature Center is located at 5911 Old Hickory Boulevard. Check the center's website for hours and program information.
DeLorme Tennessee Atlas & Gazetteer page 53, Grid B-5.
Contributed by Kevin Bowden, October 2008