Florida softshell turtle
Tenoroc is a gateway for the East Section of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife 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. In addition to resident wildlife, Tenoroc provides resources critical to many migratory birds including waterfowl, passerines, raptors, and others. Habitats important to migratory species are protected, maintained or enhanced. The Ridge Audubon Society conducts annual bird counts on the area.
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 gallinule, wood duck, and mallard, as well as blue-winged teal, hooded merganser 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 of snowy egret, white ibis and anhinga, active in the springtime. Year-round residents include osprey, red-shouldered hawk, black and turkey vultures. Swallow-tailed kites are summer visitors and winter is the time to see white pelicans, belted kingfishers, American kestrels, northern harriers and peregrine falcons. 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 of a Florida largemouth bass.
© Duane Raver/USFWS
The largemouth bass is our state’s most popular freshwater game fish and the largest member of the sunfish family. Sometimes confused with smallmouth and spotted bass, the Florida largemouth is easily distinguished by its upper jaw that extends beyond the rear edge of the eye. This bass also has a deep notch in the back fins. 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 in freshwater to brackish habitats, including ponds, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and estuaries, and are abundant in waters where bountiful vegetation provides food and cover. Spawning time varies from south to north, but usually begins in most central Florida lakes in February and March, 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. The male fans out a nest in hard-bottom areas along shallow shorelines, then guards the nest, eggs and young. The fry (young fish) stay together in tight schools until they are about an inch long. They feed on microscopic animals and small crustaceans. 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.