One of our very favorite natural places to visit is Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area, located just off I-75 (exit 158) near Punta Gorda. You may have read about this area in the news with the recent purchase of approximately 90,000 acres of the Babcock Ranch for a housing development. The area we visit frequently is adjacent to the ranch property and is owned by the State. It is one of the last remaining natural wet pine flatwoods in the state and home to several endangered species. Click here for more information about this area.
Seaboard Grade (south)
It's a perfect day...definitely Florida paradise.
After our usual slow drive along Oilwell Grade and part of Seaboard Grade past the resident alligators sunning on the shore, we hike the southern end of Seaboard Grade. As we walk slowly, there is much to see. A Turkey Vulture is sitting in a pine tree just overhead. We stop to watch for several minutes while he puts on quite a show of expressions and strange sounds.
As we walk further, there are recent Bobcat footprints in the soft, dry sand of the road. We can imagine him loping along the same path we are taking. An exciting thought! Maybe he is even somewhere close, unseen, watching us.
We hear and then spot a Red-Bellied Woodpecker in a pine tree. He stops eating bugs for a moment to look at us with curiosity, and we return the compliment. There are always butterflies along this road and today is no exception. Beautiful Eastern Black Swallowtail and Gulf Fritillary butterflies are abundant.
We have photographs to share our experiences, but they miss the sounds and smells you only get by being there. The air is so fresh we can't get enough of it. The distinctive sounds of wind in the pine trees, birds singing, woodpeckers hammering, and the sweet, sometimes spicy smells of flowering plants fill our senses.
We're reminded of something we heard on a recent nature television program: Everything we have in our homes, everything we need to live, comes from nature. How true!
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly