The Circle B Bar Reserve

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Lyn W Spence

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Photo: Carol Cassels

This fantastic nature reserve is located southeast of Lakeland off of US 98. Turn east on SR 540 (Winter-Lake Road) and proceed about 2 miles. The reserve is on your right. Use the signed main entrance where you will find a paved road winding through a beautiful oak hammock leading to the building complex. You should start your tour at the new Polk Discovery Nature Center open from 9 to 4 every day but Monday and open at 12 on Sundays. There is a volunteer at the information desk inside who will help you choose your trail. The property itself is open every day of the year from dawn to dusk.
The reserve covers 1,267 acres of marsh, cypress swamp, uplands, and an enormous oak hammock. Thousands of pelicans, wading birds, ibis, ducks, and peeps are using the restored Banana Creek marsh. There are 8 miles of trails around the 450 acre marsh and a long shoreline with Lake Hancock, home of some of the largest alligators left in Florida. It is easily the best public location in Polk County for water birds. The bird list for this property exceeds 185 species making it a must see birding location.  The best season for birding is winter although any season can turn up unusual bird. Spoonbills, Wood Storks, Limpkins, and many species of wading birds are easily seen and photographed from the hard surface trails.
Entrance is free and a bird list is available at the desk. There are restrooms, cold drinks, and picnic facilities at the nature center.

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Photo: Carol Cassels