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 Bass
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.