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AEDC WMA and Woods Reservoir

Birding Seasons:
Spring A
Summer A-
Fall A
Winter A+

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Site Description and Habitats

This area comprised 32,000 acres of oak-hickory hardwood forests and open pine savannas with scattered scrub/shrub and grassland habitats. Native warm season grasses and wild flowers are common in open areas that are burned regularly. Forest burning and clearing of forest to provide early successional habitat has provided ample thickets and heavy cover for wildlife. Woods Reservoir is a large open water reservoir with multiple viewing areas.

Winter is an excellent time to bird Woods Reservoir as there are often good numbers of waterfowl, grebe, loons, and gulls. A spotting scope is recommended.

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: Warblers, vireos, thrushes and flycatchers can be common in suitable habitat, but the draw of the lake is for waterbirds. Wading birds are common as up to 8 species have recently bred on Little Elder Island, e.g. Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, and Double-crested Cormorant. Green Herons are seen as well, but likely do not breed on the island. In late summer and fall, Forster's, Black, and Caspian Terns are be found with Common's being the least common.

Summer: Wading birds (see above), Cliff Swallow, Prothonotary Warbler, Purple Martin, and Eastern Kingbirds.

Winter: Waterfowl and waterbirds including Common Loon, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Mallard, Gadwall, Canvasback, Red-breasted Merganser, American Black Duck, and Bufflehead. Purple Finches, White-throated Sparrows, among other winter species are common.

Year-Round: Bald Eagle, Wild Turkey, Red-headed Woodpecker can be found at the AEDC campground.

Rarities Seen at this Site: Red-throated Loon, Glaucous Gull, Ash-throated Flycatcher

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer - Woods Reservoir hot spot
Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer - Little Elder Island hot spot

Submit your data to eBird here

Detailed directions for birding AEDC WMA

From I-24, exit at the Arnold Air Force Base exit (#117). Turn west onto Wattendorf Highway. The WMA is on both sides of the highway, all the way to Tullahoma. Travel 3.0 miles and turn left onto AEDC Rd (or Dechard Rd). Continue straight for 0.5 miles after merging with Hwy 127 and turn right onto Pumping Station Rd (or Old Brick Church Rd.). At the "T", turn left and in 1 mile there is a boat ramp on your left and a right turn onto Northshore Rd. The boat ramp provides distant views of Little Elder Island to your right. Take the right turn onto Northshore Rd. and go 1.3 miles and turn left into a public recreation area, with beach, restroom facilities, and a nice view of the lake for scanning the water.

To reach the dam, which is good for scanning the lake in fall through spring for waterfowl, loons, and eagles, follow one of the following directions:
1. If you are on Northshore Rd, continue west, crossing a wide slough of the lake, and make a left on Spring Creek Rd. Travel 1.6 miles and make a left onto Hwy 279. Travel 1.4 miles and turn left onto a poorly marked road called Elk River Dam Rd. The road dead ends at the dam.
2. From Hwy 127 coming from AEDC proper, cross the lake and make a right on Hwy 279. Travel 2.4 miles and turn right on a poorly marked road called Elk River Dam Rd. The road dead ends at the dam.

One Hwy 279, just west of Hwy 127 is Franklin County Park, which can provide another lake view. Only 0.5 miles from Hwy 127 is a wide pull off where you can park and scan the lake and get the best view of Little Elder Island.

Morris Ferry Dock, on the east side of Hwy 127, is a great viewing area for the eastern side of the lake. Cross the lake on Hwy 127 to the south side and make a right onto Monroe Floyd Rd and in 1/3 mi there will be a large sign for the Boat Dock.


Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates

Boat Ramp north of Little Elder Island: 35.324597, -86.063377
Public Recreation Area and public beach: 35.322522, -86.088933
The Dam area: 35.295337, -86.095158
Franklin County Park: 35.308752, -86.075329
Morris Ferry Dock: 35.296349,-86.057846

Fees and Hours
Year round, during daylight hours. No fees.

Please refer to TWRA Hunting Guide about hunting seasons and public access dates.


TWRA Region 2 Office
Ellington Agricultural Center
P.O. Box 41489
Nashville, TN 37204

Info for other sites
Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife web site