Do you like birding from the car? If so, Dinner Island Ranch Wildlife Management Area might be the spot for you.
You will find Dinner Ranch WMA about 23 miles east of Immokalee and 29 miles southwest of Clewiston, sandwiched between the vast sugarcane fields and the cattle farms of South Florida. This is the area of Florida where signs proudly claim “Beef, it's what's for dinner.” Cattle freely roamed throughout the ranch so be careful as drive through the marsh land.
The 21000 acre ranch offers a good glimpse into backwoods Florida and offers a little bit of everything, including hardwood hammock, freshwater swamp, prairie and pine flatwoods. Given the remoteness of this location, you really have to make an effort to want to visit this site, but the birding at times can be rewarding indeed.
During our January visit we spied numerous Savannah sparrows, yellow-rumped and pine warblers, black vultures, little blue heron, eastern phoebes and the ever present cattle egret. The birds appeared to be very skittish and unless approached cautiously they may dart away. Consider staying in the car, however, the roads are well suited for walking. As always, be aware of your surroundings. The area is home to black bears, panthers and alligators. Nevertheless we were fortunate enough to see a pair of red-shouldered hawks in an intimate embrace and a Northern Harrier circling above in hunt. There were a few American kestrels along the phone lines on the drive in. Around one turn we surprised some Whitetail deer.
If you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, with an hour or two to spare and you have an urge to go birding, Dinner Island Ranch could fit the bill. The area is open to public access all day, every day.
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