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Circle B Bar Reserve
Although Polk County actually purchased the reserve in 2000 it wasn' t until several years later that it really began to become the great natural resource for the county that it is today when the Polk Nature Discovery Centre was opened in 2008.
Named after a cattle ranch that once existed on the land, Circle B Bar Reserve was bought to protect the floodplain of the lake and to restore the Banana Creek marsh system. Over time the property was converted to pasture and projects were completed to restore much of the original function of the land. As a result -Circle B is now home to some of the most impressive bird activity in Polk . The tremendous bird population includes a variety of wading birds, waterfowl, ospreys and bald eagles.
Alligators inhabit Lake Hancock and may be observed at a distance from shore or from a pier. Oak hammock, freshwater marsh, hardwood swamp and the lakeshore are among the unique characteristics of this property.
You enter the reserve by a long drive-you can only drive so far in, but the drive is spectacular with lots of large trees flowing with Spanish moss and eventually ends at a parking lot and a discovery center.
Here you can pick up trail maps and choose your own adventure. You' re basically guaranteed a gator sighting along the trails , especially on warm, sunny days. Definitely check out the path they call ' Alligator Alley' which is only one of 11 walking trails on the site. The trails are all either graded easy or moderate and you are told which ones have shade along them -important if you go in the height of the summer with little ones .
These trails range in length from 0. 4 miles to 1. 3 miles and no matter which one you choose to follow you are practically guaranteed to see a wide range of wildlife from wading birds including -if you are lucky -the American White Pelican -to the more usual Herons and cranes . Look for trees where the woodpeckers have done their work and now are home to otters and turtles.
Circle B Bar Reserve is without a doubt a 5-star birding and wildlife experience. It is 100% free to visit this amazing paradise, located at the edge of Lakeland along Lake Hancock.
The Nature Discovery Center features an exhibit hall, along with indoor and outdoor classrooms providing visitors an opportunity to discover Polk County' s water, wilderness and wildlife Experience hands-on exhibits, view live aquatic plans and animals in aquariums and explore the Learning Tree. Monthly workshops include topics such as birding, photography, native plants and animals.
Circle B is found near Lakeland on County Road 540 Winter Lake Road
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