Babcock-Webb WMA – Tucker Grade

Tucker Grade is the main road in to the WMA. As you enter the WMA you will be travelling from west to east. Like most of the roads, it is a straight line through the area. There are three intersections in the recreational area, Lake Road, Oilwell Grade and Seaboard Grade. Beyond Seaboard is the managed hunting area which is normally closed to vehicular traffic by a gate . Tucker Grade runs all the way to a permanently closed gate at US-31. The grade is paved from the entrance to the Gun Range and beyond that is hardshell road until the gate to the hunting area. The hardshell roads are passable by all vehicles.

There is a hunter check station just past the entrance at the intersection of Tucker and Lake. There is no need to stop here unless the station is open and the main road will be blocked if that is the case. If it is open, you will need to check in for safety reasons. Hunters and others are counted in and out. There is a drainage canal that runs into Webb Lake just past the check station. The right side is the northernmost end of the lake and the left a marshy area where you can frequently find wading birds. There are fresh water mussels in this area as this Limpkin has discovered.

The next point of interest is marl pond #3 on the right hand side. The left side of the road here is scrubland and can be followed to the left and the drainage canal.

This is another area where moorhens live in the cattails on the east and far sides. At the eastern end of the pond is a gate which can be used to follow around to the marshes on the far side.

Once you are past Marl Pond #3, I seldom see much in this area so generally continue on past Oilwell Grade before stopping.

There is usually some traffic to and from the range so I wouldn’t recommend stopping until you are past it. Even then, the road is narrow and if you want to stop and watch from the car keep an eye out for traffic. There are a few places where the shoulder is firm enough to pull partially off the road.

Once past Oilwell, the land becomes marshy on the left side with a lot of potential for waders. In many instances they will be quite deep in marsh grasses but, there are some more open spots. This shot of a Great Egret was taken there. I kinda of like the way that the angle of it’s neck matches the angle of the grass.

Most of the right side isn’t normally wet except after a lot of rain.  There are some exceptions though where drains are placed to keep water pressure from damaging gthe grade.   The right side is a good place to see deer.

This is a view of Tuckers Grade beyond the Firing Range showing the hardshell surface and pine flatwoods across a dry meadow.

This is a marshy area.  While the grasses look the same, these can withstand longer periodss of wetness.  To the right is Alligator Flag which requires standing water.  The plants are brown due to a cold snap.  It doesn’t take a frost to hurt some of these tropical plants.  Beyond the Alligator flag you can see a hammock which indicated higher, dryer ground.

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About birds n' bugs

Retired, living in SW Florida and spending my time at nature photography in my local area. I volunteer with a couple of local organizations to help my adopted home town. Travelling is now by airplane and car instead of a sailboat but happy anyway.
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