X171. Platt Branch Wildlife and Environmental Area

Image of X171. Platt Branch Wildlife and Environmental Area

SiteID: E171 (new)

Region: East

County: Highlands

Nearest City: Venus / Palmdale

Phone Number: 863-648-3200

Website: X171. Platt Branch Wildlife and Environmental Area

Features/Amenities: Birding by foot/hiking, Best time of day: Both morning and evening, Recommended length of visit: all day

Habitats: Freshwater Swamp, Freshwater Marsh/Wetlands, Field/Pasture, Pines, Scrub, Hardwoods/Mixed Forest


Intrepid birders will be rewarded by the scenery and solitude at this out-of-the-ordinary destination. Platt Branch lies east of the Fisheating Creek floodplain at the southern end of the Lake Wales Ridge. Management of the longleaf pine, cutthroat grass, slash pine and scrub habitats is specifically tailored to benefit protected species such as the Florida Scrub-Jay, Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Gopher Tortoise. Walk the 3.5-mile loop trail which passes through oak scrub, pine flatwoods, seasonal wetlands and cutthroat grass seeps in the central portion of the area. You may also hike on the unpaved service roads to reach the floodplain of Fisheating Creek (good for migratory songbirds like Louisiana Waterthrush) and stands of mature pines with Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. Two observation platforms overlook freshwater wetlands with wading birds, shorebirds, ducks and sometimes a Roseate Spoonbill or two. Crested Caracara, Sandhill Crane, Wood Stork, Purple Gallinule, Whip-poor-will (winter), Brown-headed Nuthatch and Bachman’s Sparrow are just some of the special birds found here. Watch for Eastern Meadowlark and Northern Harrier (winter) in the fields. There are few amenities here, so bring your lunch water and sun protection, and make a full day of it.

Directions: From US 27/SR 25 in Venus, go west on CR 731 for 1.2 mi. Turn left (south) on CR 17/Detjens Dairy Rd. and drive 1.3 mi. The entrance is on the right (west) side of the road. From Palmdale, go north on US 27 approx. 5 mi. Turn left (west) on CR 17/Detjens Dairy Rd. and go 2.3 mi. to the entrance on the left (west) side.

Google Map

Open all year, dawn to dusk.

eBird checklist

Location: 27.050168, -81.364848