What’s Blooming at Babcock Webb?

Spanish Needle (Bidens Alba)

It always amazes me how many different flowers are blooming each time I visit a familiar, local to me place like the Babcock Webb Wildlife Management Area. Here’s a sampling of what I saw today in just a small area of the park.

Summertime Florida Hiking

Sun shining through Sabal palms at Myakka’s Deep Hole

It’s getting hot out there. Hiking in Florida in the summertime can be a dangerous idea if you’re not prepared. There are so many elements that seem as though they’re out to get you. It’s alligator mating season from April through June. Lovebugs abound in April and October, though they’re just annoying and not dangerous. Yellow flies start becoming super annoying around the middle of May, and their bites hurt! Mosquitos are quite wide awake now and they’ll want to have a snack on your blood when you hike in shady, damp areas. Okay, actually they’ll want to snack on you no matter where you hike in summer in Florida. Noseeums swarm and attack with their teeny tiny blood sucking mouths in any area close to the shore, particularly at dawn and dusk. We have mad thunderstorms just about every afternoon. We have truly earned the title of Lightning Capital of the World. All of that, and I haven’t even mentioned the risk of sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

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May Adventures

Leavenworths Tickseed Coreopsis leavenworthii

April showers are bringing the May flowers for sure. You may have noticed the coreopsis blooms beginning across the state. These flowers bloom in great abundance in pine flat woods, but they can be found just about anywhere. Florida has twelve native species of coreopsis, and they are all Florida’s state wildflower. Myakka state park has huge blooms of coreopsis in late spring every year. Be sure to go check them out. If you’re lucky, you’ll see deer traipsing through the wildflowers.

Mama and baby deer at Myakka State Park
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Myakka State Park – Deep Hole

Deep Hole is a 141 foot deep sinkhole located just northwest of the upper Myakka Lake portion of the Myakka River. It’s easy to see the outline of Deep Hole during the dry season when the land around it is above water. During the wet season, it blends in with the Myakka River as the entire area is under water.

This is a protected area with visitors limited to just thirty per day. To visit, you need to be in line when the park opens at 8am. You’ll need to secure a permit to gain access and receive directions to the area.

When I visited, it was a hot day so the alligators weren’t as plentiful as they would be on a cool, sunny day. There were still well over fifty of them lining the shore, but sometimes there are many more than that.

Alligators at Deep Hole
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Things to Do 2022

There is no shortage of things to do in our area if you’re looking to get outdoors and enjoy some spectacular Florida nature. I did a post about this back in 2019. https://rhphotoadventures.com/2019/03/06/what-is-there-to-do/ I’ve since discovered a lot of new resources to find places to explore.

The CREW Land and Water Trust https://crewtrust.org/ oversees and preserves land around the 60,000 acre Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed. These areas are among some of my favorite, including Bird Rookery Swamp.

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Babcock Webb Wildlife Management Area

This area was purchased in 1914 by a lumberman from Pittsburg named Edward Babcock. In 1931, he leased the timber rights on his land, and eventually nearly all of the old growth pines were cut down for timber. The Commission of Game and Fresh Water Fish (the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission before it was called that), started to buy land for conservation and wildlife management. In 1941, they bought 19,200 acres of land from Edward’s son, Fred. Babcock Webb WMA is the oldest wildlife management area in Florida. Today, there are over 65,000 acres that make up the Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area. It was originally named after a commissioner at that time, Cecil M. Webb. It’s name was changed in 1995 to the Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area. We just call it Babcock Webb.

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Common Wading Birds of SWFL

Wherever there’s water in Southwest Florida, you can probably count on there being some birds and an alligator or two. Here’s a quick little guide to the most common wading birds you’ll encounter in this area. Click on each photo for full-screen view.

Backpacking for Beginners

On the Myakkka Hiking Trail

Have you been wanting to try backpacking, but have been a little intimidated by the idea? Hopefully this post will help boost your confidence. If you can walk a few miles and carry 20% of your bodyweight, you can backpack.

We’ll start with water. I’m not a proponent of plastic water bottles. Having said that, for a lightweight and perfectly sized bottle, I haven’t found a reusable bottle that can beat a one liter Smart Water bottle. An empty bottle without the neck band and label weighs a mere 1.32 ounces. An added bonus is that it perfectly fits the Sawyer Squeeze filtration system. (More on that later.)

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Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

How do you pronounce “slough?” It rhymes with flew, not cough or chow. English is weird. Anyway, welcome to one of my favorite local spots! I will say, I prefer this place in the summer on weekdays because in the winter and on weekends it gets crazy busy. Today was a federal holiday, and I think everybody and their sister decided it was a good day for a walk at Six Mile Cypress.

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O’Leno State Park and River Rise

O’Leno was Florida’s eleventh state park, established in 1940. Like many of the original state parks, it was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. This park is full of history and natural beauty. Some of the best hiking trails in Florida can be found here, particularly when combined with neighboring River Rise Preserve State Park’s trails.

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