Although mining has modified the natural
environment of Tenoroc, habitats support abundant birdlife. Tenoroc
is a gateway for the East Section of the Great Florida Birding
Trail, which spans an eighteen-county area. Tenoroc lies along
a major historical songbird migration route that once followed
hardwood forests lining the Peace River. The Ridge Audubon Society
conducts annual bird counts on the area.
Birding hotspots are numerous. Watch for
meadowlarks and raptors on a drive to Picnic Lake, a good spot for
wading birds. Hike the trail around Cemetery Lake and look for
common moorhens, wood ducks, and Florida mallards, as well as,
blue-winged teal, hooded mergansers, and other migratory ducks.
Northern harriers are common in the winter.
Across the road from Picnic Lake's parking area,
pick up the dike trail and hike to an area overlooking a wading
bird colony with snowy egrets, white ibises, and anhingas in the
springtime. For sparrows, try the two wintering sparrow areas
created by the Ridge Audubon on the Bridgewater Tract. Ospreys,
red-shouldered hawks, and black and turkey vultures are year round
residents. Several active osprey nests are easy to spot when
nesting activity kicks into high gear in the spring. Swallow-tailed
kites are summer specialties and winter is the time to see white
pelicans, belted kingfishers, American kestrels, northern harriers,
and peregrine falcons. Within the Saddle Creek Tract to the south,
slash pine flatwoods, floodplain swamp, and lakes and creeks are
home to wading birds and migratory songbirds.
In addition to birds, keep an eye out for colorful
butterflies such as red admiral, spicebush swallowtail, giant
swallowtail, and question mark.
Wildlife Spotlight: Florida Largemouth
Illustration - Florida Largemouth Bass
Our state's most popular freshwater game fish and
the largest member of the sunfish family is the Florida largemouth
bass. Sometimes confused with smallmouth and spotted bass, the
Florida largemouth is easily distinguished by its large mouth (the
upper jaw extends beyond the rear edge of the eye) and a deep notch
in the dorsal fin. Females live longer and grow larger than males;
males seldom exceed 16 inches, while females often surpass 22
inches. Virtually all bass over eight pounds are female.
Florida largemouth bass are found throughout
Florida, and are very abundant in waters where bountiful vegetation
provides food and cover. They occupy freshwater to brackish
habitats, including ponds, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and
estuaries. Spawning time varies from south to north, but it
generally occurs from December to May.
Spawning usually begins in February and March in
most central Florida lakes when water temperatures reach 58 to 65
degrees. The female lays up to 100,000 eggs in a saucer shaped nest
20 to 30 inches in diameter, created by the male in hard-bottom
areas along shallow shorelines. The male guards the nest, eggs, and
young. The young (called fry) stay together in tight schools until
they are an inch long. Young fish feed on microscopic animals and
small crustaceans such as grass shrimp and crayfish. Fingerling
bass feed on insects, crayfish, and small fishes. Adults eat
whatever is available, including fish, crayfish, crabs, frogs,
salamanders, snakes, mice, turtles, and even birds.