Not So Far Afield

You would think that I’d learn. “Tomorrow will start clear and dry and a few clouds may roll in during the afternoon.” Weather reporters. Sigh.

Fifty yards down the path, my face felt a few drops of what my Dad would have called “heavy dew”. Rain. Keep going? Turn back? I tucked the camera body under my shirt tail and put the lens covers over the binoculars. A Gray Catbird “mewed” sarcastically from a tangle of willows. Two Blue-gray Gnatcatchers crisscrossed the trail in front of me, daring me to whip out the camera and try to catch them between raindrops. Nature can be so cruel.

Around a bend, there was an opening through which I could see a lovely lake, wetlands extending for some distance and several large dead trees. Among the branches of the tallest snag was an Osprey nest and atop the highest limb perched an Osprey, surveying his wet kingdom. I was so enthralled with the view I had not noticed the rain had stopped.

This trail was new to me and I explored about a mile and a half before heading back to the car. Lakes on one side, old-growth hardwood forest on the other. “Birdy.”

We have written about this location before and doubtless will again. Tenoroc Public Use Area. I’m not sure when it changed, but it used to be known as Tenoroc Fish Management Area. Tenoroc is managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). Over 7,000 acres of fishing lakes, hiking/equestrian trails, a shooting range and special recreation areas for children and people with physical limitations. It is a “gateway” site for The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.

Did I mention it’s only ten minutes from the house?

By the time I returned to the car, I was almost dry and Gini was several chapters farther along in her book. Granola bars and fresh slices of orange fortified us for more exploring.

There was no more rain and the clouds eventually parted to reveal a deep blue sky and plenty of sunshine. We discovered amazing sights, sounds and supreme satisfaction!

(NOTE: These images are from two different visits, the second and third weeks of October 2019.)


An Osprey above an old nest. In Florida, nesting season for the Osprey begins in December and old nests are renovated and reused over and over. (Sadly, this particular nest was destroyed by a violent windstorm after our first visit.) This image provides an idea of habitat typical for the area. If you are able to enlarge the photo, you may spot a Belted Kingfisher near the bottom of the frame just left of center.

Tenoroc FMA


A House Wren dared me to take his picture in the rain. These “little brown jobs” only visit us during migration.

Tenoroc FMA


Another fall/winter visitor is the Eastern Phoebe. We heard them calling everywhere we stopped. This one kept her eye on a grasshopper which she eventually grabbed and flew out of sight to enjoy.

Tenoroc FMA


Little Blue Herons in good light show a subtle diversity of color in their plumage. Yes, this fellow loudly let me know I was disturbing his breakfast hunt.

Tenoroc FMA


Fall migration is in full swing and there were plenty of colorful feathered things scampering high in the treetops. I managed to get a shot directly above me of a busy Magnolia Warbler. One would think bright yellow would really stand out in the middle of a tree. One would be mistaken.

Tenoroc FMA


Black and orange, on the other hand, are hard to miss. A male American Redstart stopped and stared for 1/500th of a second. Click. Thank you, sir!

Tenoroc FMA


There’s that bright yellow again. This time mixed with black stripes which help this Prairie Warbler blend into a bush as he fought the urge to flee. He flew.

Tenoroc FMA


One of the benefits of our sub-tropical environment is we get to enjoy dragonflies later in the year than those living in cooler climates. A Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) can brighten up the dreariest day.

Tenoroc FMA


A new species for us! A huge dragon flew in front of the car and I about put Gini through the windshield (again) trying to stop, grab the camera and open the door all at the same time. The very courteous specimen grabbed a nearby branch and posed for several candid shots. Our newest find:  Royal River Cruiser (Macromia taeniolata)!

Tenoroc FMA

Tenoroc FMA


Stocky members of the heron family, American Bitterns are another of our fall/winter visitors. Their brown striped plumage allows them to remain motionless among reeds and escape detection. They are fairly uncommon in our county.

Tenoroc FMA


Spaniards exploring Florida over 500 years ago brought pigs with them for food. They left a few behind. We now have a feral pig problem. They proliferate faster than they can be hunted or trapped. As with most species, the babies can be pretty cute.

Tenoroc FMA


A beautiful Snowy Egret patiently waits for a frog to move. Yum.

Tenoroc FMA


Mrs. Belted Kingfisher has spied breakfast!

Tenoroc FMA


Mrs. Belted Kingfisher proudly displays her catch!

Tenoroc FMA


Mrs. Belted Kingfisher laughs loudly at Mr. Belted Kingfisher who has not had any breakfast!

Tenoroc FMA


Mr. Belted Kingfisher knows better than to say anything at all!

Tenoroc FMA


We are very thankful (I can’t believe I’m saying this) to the government forces which partnered with commercial interests and private citizens over half a century ago to create a real treasure for all citizens to enjoy. Hopefully, such success stories will motivate more people in all walks of life to encourage similar projects throughout the country (and beyond).

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!


Additional Information

Tenoroc Public Use Area

Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Not So Far Afield

  1. I love your Belted Kingfisher seequence, Wally, and, yes, I did eventually find the kingfisher in your first image – just! That Halloween Pennant is rather special and unlike anything we see here. What an exciting find that Royal River Cruiser was – a real beast of a dragon!

    • The chattering call of the Kingfisher is usually aimed at my inability to capture one photographically. It was satisfying to finally obtain an image that isn’t too blurred!

      New dragons get the adrenaline flowing!

      Thank you for your diligence in commenting on the older posts, Richard. We appreciate it.

      Have a wonderful new week!

  2. Added Tenoroc to my ever-growing list of places to visit! So fond (and a bit envious) of your beautiful photographs especially the Kingfisher series — those birds will NOT hold still for me (we see them here and there). Its the time of year right now where I’m kind of sad to be leaving Oregon soon (:because of family and the usual things we meant to do but didn’t), but looking at your beautiful birds and thinking about “heavy dew” that actually stops and lets the sun come out is helping my attitude adjustment. (Bill was ready to go as soon as we had our first ‘heavy dew’ here!)

    • We had a cold spell Sunday and it got all the way down to 50 F! Brrrr!

      Have a safe trip. The birds and warm sunshine await your arrival. 🙂

  3. Lots of great shots. Sometimes the rain can be something different or at least relief from the heat.

  4. edro123

    Wonderful post, Wally! I really like the kingfisher sequence and commentary!

  5. David Gascoigne

    Great reporting, Wally, and a fine series of pictures. I was aware that Florida had a problem with invasive species of many kinds, but I did not know that feral pigs were among them, a creature that can very quickly wreak havoc on an ecosystem. With no natural predators around I can see how they would quickly become a huge problem. Do you think it’s a good thing that Gini provided granola bars and orange slices before you almost put her though the windshield? Or is that just part of her morning with Wally? Bracing for the sudden screeching stop, that is! My daughter always tells people, “My dad is never going to die a natural death, he’s going to drive right off a cliff following a hawk!” She just hopes she’s not in the car with me!

    • Your gracious comments are really appreciated, David.
      The pigs actually are prey for alligators, bobcats will take very young ones and in the southern part of the state panthers will take a few. But they reproduce often and in large numbers.

      Gini, after 50+ years’ experience, rides in “full brace” mode! And, she would empathize with your daughter.

      Coffee is finished. Time to go search for ducks. Have a terrific week!

  6. What a fantastic spot and so close to your home. All great shots but must say that dragon is a super looking beast.

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