Circle B Bar Reserve

Mark Kosinski
Landscape and Nature Photographer

For the nature lovers, bird watchers or conservationist Circle B Bar Reserve is a perfect destination. Located in Polk County in Lakeland, Florida. This preserve offers something for everyone. The name is established from a ranch that occupied the 1,267 acres and has been part of a restoration project to return the property to restore much of the original hydrologic function of the lands. The preserve offers one of the most impressive bird populations that I have encountered here in central Florida. Among them are the Osprey, American Bald eagle, a large variety of wading birds and the endangered wood stork. Fresh water marshes, Oak hammocks and hardwood swamp are all habitats nestled on the edge of Lake Hammock. Bird watching and observation is exceptionally easy due to its large trails and open habitats. Most of the trails are easy to moderate level for comfortable travel and navigation (one trail has many roots making it a bit rugged for strollers and wheelchairs). In the fresh water marshes one will be able to observe turtles, alligators and sub-tropical plant life. Cirlc B Bar Preserve has covered picnic tables and restrooms. However on Mondays portable facilities will have to be utilized as the main building housing restrooms is closed. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and bug repellent. Pets are not allowed on the property. After a full day of enjoyment and being fully immersed in nature I look forward to a return visit.

I arrived at the preserve very early as I wanted to catch the sunrise on Lake Hancock. Central Florida has many small to very large lakes and waterways. Finding ones where people aren’t living isn’t an easy task. The sunrise that morning was spectacular. The nice orange and yellow glow, mixed with the clouds made for exceptional sunrise photographs. I was astounded to see the number and variety of wild birds. It appeared to be no secret either. By 10 AM there were quite a number of bird enthusiasts armed with binoculars, telescopes and cameras with 500 to 800mm lens attached. I shot using a 28-300mm lens. My intention was to capture as much as I could without being chained to a tripod. Obviously, I brought a tripod with me, but as soon as the sun was up and lighting was good it went back into its case. I kept thinking to myself what a remarkable place this is. I’m definitely going back and will write more about our next visit there.