E25. Big Bend Wildlife Management Area: Hagen’s Cove Recreation Area
Nearest City: Steinhatchee/Keaton Beach
Phone Number: 386-758-0525
Features/Amenities: Seasonal hunting, Birding by car, Birding by boat, Birding by foot/hiking, Birding by bicycle, Best time of day: Both morning and evening, Recommended length of visit: a few hours, Horseback riding br>
Habitats: Pines, Marine/Bay, Salt Marsh, Mudflats
Picturesque pine flatwoods lining the entrance drive to Hagen’s Cove Recreation Area shelter Eastern Wild Turkey, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Towhee and Brown-headed Nuthatch. The jewel of this area is the viewing tower which overlooks marsh, mudflats and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Numerous species of shorebirds like American Avocet, Marbled Godwit, Greater Yellowlegs and Short-billed Dowitcher feed in the shallows. Mudflats attract Semipalmated Plover, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin and Killdeer. Watch for wading birds (including Reddish Egret) as well as wintering ducks (Gadwall, Bufflehead, and Lesser Scaup) and American White Pelican on the open water. Gulls, terns and Black Skimmer are present year round; Bald Eagle and Northern Harrier are routinely spotted from fall to spring. American Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon are all possible in winter; can you separate them by their field marks (how about by their flight styles and silhouettes if the lighting is poor)? Other interesting species to search for here include Gray Kingbird, Sedge Wren, Common Nighthawk and Common Ground-Dove; a chance encounter with an American Golden-Plover or American Woodcock keeps interest in this WMA high. A spotting scope is helpful at this site. More than 300 miles of dirt roads are available for hiking and biking within the 71,900-acre Big Bend WMA. Picnic facilities and a restroom (vault toilet) are available near the viewing tower. CLICK HERE for information about hunting dates, regulations and more, or to download a map of the WMA.
Directions: From US 19/US 98 south of Perry, take CR 361/Beach Road south for 17.0 mi. to Keaton Beach. Turn left (east) to continue on CR 361/Beach Rd.; go southeast for another 5.1 mi. The entrance road (Hagen’s Cove Rd.) is on the right (west) side of the road.
Open dawn to dusk.
Location: 29.776149° N, -83.560518° W