Circle B Bar Reserve is a Lakeland, Florida park that is located on the shores of Lakeland, just south of Tampa. The reserve is made up of 6500 acres of land and includes a variety of ecosystems such as marshes, cypress swamps, pine flatwoods, and oak scrub. Circle B Bar Reserve is named for a cattle ranch that originally stood on this land. It was bought to save the Lake Hancock floodplain and to rebuild the Banana Creek wetland system. Restoration work was completed in 2005 and 2006 to bring back a large portion of the lands’ natural hydrologic function. The restoration of the marsh system has led to an increase in bird activity, and the area is now home to a variety of wading birds, ducks, ospreys, and bald eagles.
The Circle B Bar Reserve features a number of well-maintained, clearly defined trails that range in length.
Trail Shady Oak — (1.3 miles, Easy, Shaded)
You can see butterfly orchids, trumpet vine-wrapped cabbage palms, live oak branches covered in resurrection ferns, Spanish moss, and other plants along this trail, which passes through an oak hammock. Many species of animals and birds find food and shelter in the hammock.
Run of the Marsh Rabbits (0.7 miles, Easy, Partially Shaded)
This walk passes through a small marsh where you might see a variety of wading birds, such as spoonbills and white ibis. Red-bellied woodpecker chisel marks are visible on a number of dead trees. Keep an eye out for turtles and otters who like to sunbathe on the fallen logs.
Large oak trees with Spanish moss-covered limbs and resurrection ferns greet you as you approach this property. The importance of this habitat for animals is sometimes overlooked by the girth of the oak trees and the lush green of the resurrection fern following rain. During the hottest part of the day, the hammock offers shade and protection to wildlife, including insects and cavity nesters like the great horned owl.
In the Banana Creek Marsh, ongoing restoration has created breeding and foraging habitats for a variety of species that were not known to frequent the area in recent decades. These include alligators, wood storks, roseate spoonbills, and snail kites. Wading birds are drawn to the reserve in large numbers because of the presence of shallow water and an abundance of small fish. Other sightings of animals include otters, bobcats, gray foxes, armadillos, squirrels, frogs, turtles, black racer snakes, five-lined racerunner lizards, and other reptiles.
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