Babcock-Webb WMA – Seaboard Grade – Tucker to Tram

Seaboard grade is the third intersection on Tucker Grade, the main road into Babcock-Webb.  It’s a pretty rough road and not really suitable for cars but, any vehicle with a reasonable ground clearance can travel the whole length between Tucker and Tram Grades.  Seaboard extends completely along the border of the recreational area but, I will concentrate on the area between Tuckers Grade on the south and Tram Grade on the North.  This is one of my favorite places in Babcock-Webb.  Only Tucker and Tram Grades well east into the hunting area surpass it.

The intersection of Tucker and Seaboard shows one of the water management sumps on the north side of the intersection.  These control waterflow and levels throughout the WMA and are usually left open.  If you are looking for alligators, these are good places to start.

With a car, you can turn left from Tucker and go a couple of hundred yards down to the first drainage crossing.  This is actually a good place to stop and wait for nature to come to you and there is room to park off the road in a couple of places.  After that few hundred yards, the road gets a bit rougher.  This is the view of the entrance and while it looks forbidding, opens up after the first close foliage.

Once past that first tight spot, you will find a wider road with a marl pond on the right and seasonal wetlands to the left.  This is about as far as I would want to take a car or minivan but, higher ground clearance vehicles can go all the way to Tram Grade. 

You can see the wide area here where you can park to walk along the pond and beyond.  This is a good place to view alligators and there is a colony of Red-winged Blackbirds that can often be seen walking on the pond foliage.  Most of the Florida wading birds will also be found here.  At about the midpoint of the marl pond, you will find another sump which has a road crossing.  There is also one of the old fords which were used before the sumps and controls were installed.  In this picture, you are looking in to the ford and the control sump can be seen on the left.

This is a really great place for macro shooting since the undergrowth is shoulder high and the year round water makes for good growth and food possibilities for critters.  The other side of the sump is another great place to find alligators but, remember, Florida is NOT a petting zoo.

 Beyond the sump, the marl pond turns into a drainage canal on the right and stands of old pine line the road.  In the underbrush you can sometimes find evidence that this was once grazing land but, successive controlled burns have eliminated most of those traces.  In summer, the shade of the old trees provides some respite from the heat and the trees often are home to small birds.  This area is one of the places where the Red-cockaded Woodpecker feeds and occasionally you can see the white stripe painted on a tree trunk indicating a confirmed nesting site.  These are more evident along Tram Grade but, there are fewer places to stop on Tram.  This is a fairly typical location.  The road is on the extreme left and is surrounded by the pines.  At the time of this photo, the water level was somewhat high.  Normally, the canal is narrower.

Eventually, you will end up at the intersection with Tram Grade.  This also features a sump and I have nearly always found alligators here.  In fact, for several years I found very young ones on the southern side.  When you find small gators, be very, very careful.  Unlike most reptiles, female alligators stay in the area and protect their young from predators (including other alligators).  They are very protective to the point of aggressive behavior even when no harm is intended.

This final picture is the intersection of Seaboard and Tram Grades.  The hardshell road in the foreground is Tram and Seaboard continues to the  north.  From here, Seaboard Grade goes on to the end of the property on Bermont Road but, there is no vehicle access there. 

Along the way, it crosses Powerline Grade which, as the name suggests, is the right of way for electrical lines.  If you park at this intersection and walk south on Seaboard, you will come to another sump and ford.  This is a pleasant walk with plenty of wildlife activity if you are quiet.

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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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