Named after a cattle ranch that once existed on this property, Circle B Bar Reserve was acquired to protect the floodplain of the lake and to restore the Banana Creek marsh system. Much of the property had previously been converted to pasture, but in 2005 and 2006, restoration projects were completed to restore much of the original hydrologic function of the lands. As a result of the marsh system restoration project, Circle B is now home to some very impressive bird activity! The generous 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.
Spring at this aquatic wonderland is fantastic. Many bird species nest and migrate through here! We hiked the property this spring to see what exciting finds were awaiting us. Trails take you through many different environments here. One trail will take you through an oak hammock and the next will take you out on the marsh. Hiking through the hardwood swamp brings even more variety to your travels!
Our first sightings were many very small warblers and sparrows. Next we were able to observe Osprey feeding their young. Coots and Moorhens were available to view in generous numbers. I was even able to see my first Purple Gallinule and American Bittern! Boat-tailed Grackles were clabbering all around us and Red winged Blackbirds were in full mating and nesting mode. It was wonderful to see everything turning bright green even with the extremely low water levels. There were Glossy and White Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Owls, Hawks and so many other varieties of birds!
I have to say my favorite sighting of this day was the Sand Hill Cranes with their chicks. It was a very precious site! The patience of the parents feeding each chick and walking slowly through the shallows as to not let the chicks fall behind was admirable on so many levels.
We had spotted over 40 varieties of birds, flowers and we had not even made it over to the marsh to see the gators yet! Upon arriving at the march we found many butterfly, turtles, and of course the alligators. We missed seeing the otters by just a few moments. We watched many critters basking in the dappled sunlight and others actively feeding, even the bees were harvesting spring pollen.
There were many young gators to be seen on this visit – and I think we saw the grand-daddy of them all to!
After spending some time looking out over the lake we spent some time watching woodpeckers and squirrels and then another amazing site, a young bald eagle was sitting high in a pine waiting patiently for one of its parents to bring back a meal. This is the time of year many are leaving the nest and it will not be long till this one will be on its own.
Our trip had again brought more than we could have ever hoped for but as we were arriving back at the parking area I spotted the first Swallow-Tailed Kite of the season circling around the Discovery Center. What a wonderful site! This one made it all the way back from South America and was looking quite healthy!
If you love wildlife, I highly suggest you take a trip out to see Circle B Bar Reserve. Take the kids and their bicycles; pack a picnic lunch or just grab and camera (and lots of batteries). You will not be disappointed!
For more information visit the website for Circle B Bar at: http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/areas/circlebbarreserve.html
Want to take a guided trip – contact us at Not a Clue Adventures: Http://www.notaclueadventures.com
To view more photos from this trip please visit: http://notaclueadventures.kodakgallery.com/gallery/personal-url/albumView.jsp?albumId=3573009190103#p/2701619190103