Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland was once a working cattle ranch. It's now jointly acquired by the Polk County Environmental Lands Program and the District to protect the floodplain of the lake and to restore the Banana Creek marsh system.
With the marsh now being restored, Circle B is currently home to some of the most impressive bird activity in the area. Bird population includes a variety of wading birds, waterfowl, ospreys and bald eagles. Alligators rule Lake Hancock and may be observed at a distance from shore or from a pier in large quantities. Oak hammock, freshwater marsh, hardwood swamp and the lakeshore habitat can be seen here.
Guided by dear friend and wildlife photographer, Barbara Bowen, we headed out for a sunny day on the trail. We tried to get started before the sun got hot. We hit the furthest trails first and we were able to see many varieties of birds.We came upon a nesting Osprey, Moorehens, American Coots, and Sandhill Cranes with 2 young chicks. In addition we saw Cormorants, Limpkin, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, American Egret, and many sparrows!!
For the day being quite warm we were surprised at the number of birds and butterflies that were active, and of course the turtles and alligators were pleasing to observe as well. After grabbing a couple geo-caches we headed out on a few more shaded trails where we saw a large gator slide crossing a raised trail, this was a thrill to find for us. Soon we were strolling lakeside and through binoculars we were able to see many alligators of all sizes. Lake Hancock used to be used as a sewage dump, before people started paying attention. The lake is only about 6 ft deep and under the water is another 4-8 ft of sludge and waste along the bottom. This is perfect habitat for alligators and tilapia – a favored food source for the alligators. It will be hundreds of years before the lake will be able to repair itself from the damage that was done to it, until then the alligators will rule.
We headed back to the nature center as the day was getting hot and our tummies were growling for a past-due lunch.
Lots of interactive things for the kids to do!
I was pleased to see how well the center was set up and that it targeted educating children so well. Next time you have a couple hours go take a hike out to Circle Bar B Reserve. Take binoculars and the kids, pack a lunch and enjoy spending the day watching the circle of life unfold before your eyes. If you would feel more comfortable and would like a guide, give us a call. We do offer trail guide services at a very reasonable rate!
Check out more upcoming events at our website: www.notaclueadventures.com