The history and present operation of the ranch fascinated us, but I won't report all that in this post. Interested readers can visit the Babcock Wilderness web site for more information.
The guided "swamp buggy" tour, lasting over 90 minutes, traveled through a variety of habitats, from sweeping Florida prairie, to deep woods, to silent cypress swamp. According to our guide, we were particularly fortunate in the number and variety of animals and birds we saw that day--many quite close. Several deer, one with a very young fawn, quietly watched us watching them, alert but showing no fear. Alligators who had found sunny spots on that cool day moved only a wary eyeball as we stopped to view and photograph them. Wild hogs and the unique Florida Cracker cattle breed are both protected here and gleefully ran to the bus (the hogs) or sauntered over (some of the cattle) to take corn feed from our guide. The photo ops were numerous, and I'll show you some of the animals and scenery in a future post.
Today's photos show a few of the magnificent birds we saw. The Great White Egret is taller than those we see in North Florida, but is otherwise very similar to ours. The Sandhill Crane blends so perfectly into the dry winter brush that we could spot it only by its characteristic facial markings. The male wild turkeys, apparently entering mating season, proudly displayed their tail feathers and strutted their stuff. Our visit seemed perfectly timed for sightings of these and many other birds, including ibis, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and bald eagles.
Question of the day: What area within a four or five hour drive of your home would you like to explore, and what would you do and see there?