Lost Lakes Found

Crossing Saddle Creek on the footbridge, it seemed I had been transported to another place. First, there was a hill to climb – in Florida? The tall trees, the dense understory of lush ferns, curtains of vines hanging from huge limbs made it feel as if I was in a rain forest in the Amazon. A huge dragonfly rising from the path completed the illusion.

In reality, I was exploring an unfamiliar section of what has become a familiar patch, Tenoroc Fish Management Area. Parts of the 7,000+ acre reserve include several lakes which are geographically separated from the main area where the headquarters building is located. Lost Lake East and Lost Lake West are designated as canoe/kayak fishing only and no fishing from the bank is permitted. The good news for me is that hiking is allowed and a nicely maintained trail circumnavigates Lost Lake West. I hiked just over two miles along a ridge (remember that hill?) between the two lakes, descending at the southern end of Lost Lake West into a wet hardwood forest which then turned northward adjacent to the western edge of the lake. The walk was very scenic and enjoyable.

My goal was to determine if this area contained suitable habitat for attracting migrating songbirds. It did. The canopies of very tall hardwood trees are ideal for the flocks of insect hunters which will soon be looking for high protein snacks as they proceed southward. The lowland swampy woods had sections of dense willows, perfect for protecting foraging warblers. Saddle Creek meanders through the area and its banks are covered in dense weed growth attractive to myriad insect species which will, in turn, be attractive to birds looking for tasty bugs.

Although the elevation of the trail was slight by most standards, any elevation in central Florida is uncommon. The view from the eastern portion of the trail provided a unique perspective as I was able to look downward to the surface of the lakes and actually into the tops of trees from above them. I found a nice selection of birds along the way, including: Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Carolina Wren, Northern Parula Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Tufted Titmouse, White-eyed Vireo, Fish Crow, Osprey, Cooper’s and Red-shouldered Hawks along with Limpkins, ibises, herons and egrets along the lake shore.

Toward the end of the walk, I took a break and sat against a stump for a few minutes. Over my head, I spotted an early fall migrating warbler, a female American Redstart. A Carolina Wren, still in molt, hopped all around trying to figure out what I was. Movement of a larger bird high in an oak tree turned out to be a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

The scouting trip turned out even better than I hoped and now that I have found them, these lakes shall no longer be “Lost“!

 

Saddle Creek flows from north to south just west of Lost Lake West.

Tenoroc FMA Lost Lakes

 

The state of repair of the footbridge across the creek gives one the impression the trail may not be used all that often. Just the way I like it! (The trail itself turned out to be in good shape.)

Tenoroc FMA Lost Lakes

 

If it hadn’t moved, I doubt I would have noticed this drab-colored Twilight Darner (Gynacantha nervosa) despite its relatively large size.

Tenoroc FMA Lost Lakes

 

Four Tufted Titmice alternately scolded me and chased insects from the branches of tall trees along the trail.

Tenoroc FMA Lost Lakes

 

Northern Parula warblers have a wonderful ascending call and their bright yellow breasts really stand out as they flit quickly from limb to limb. This one was framed nicely by the feathery leaves of a Sweet Acacia tree (Vachellia farnesiana).

Tenoroc FMA Lost Lakes

 

A pair of Downy Woodpeckers probed the branches for breakfast. The male was camera shy but the lady of the house posed briefly for a portrait.

Tenoroc FMA Lost Lakes

 

The trail along the ridge between the two lakes afforded a unique look down onto the top of the forest canopy and the surface of the lakes.

Tenoroc FMA Lost Lakes

 

I was only able to grab a couple of quick photographs of this damselfly before it disappeared into the forest. My best guess is that it is a Powdered Dancer (Argia moesta), which would be a first for me and for our county. If anyone can help, it would be appreciated!

Tenoroc FMA Lost Lakes

 

A curious Carolina Wren kept peeking at me while I took a break. It has not quite completed its annual molt and looks a bit unkempt.

Tenoroc FMA Lost Lakes

 

This early bird is getting the worm. And the beetle, And the caterpillar. And anything else she can find. The female American Redstart, a warbler, flares its tail and wings with yellow patches to frighten insects from hiding places. Redstarts are one of the earliest warblers to appear in our area as fall migration is beginning.

Tenoroc FMA Lost Lakes

 

One of the few warblers which resides here all year is the Yellow-throated Warbler. It is relatively large for a warbler and has crisp black and white plumage along with its namesake bright yellow throat.

Tenoroc FMA Lost Lakes

 

Leaning against a stump, a movement caught my attention. Eventually, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo materialized above my head. He continued to cluck at me which made taking a nap really difficult.

Tenoroc FMA Lost Lakes

 

At the end of the trail, a fluttering Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata) paused on a leaf for a moment. The dense tree canopy didn’t allow much light through so the image is not the best, but the subject is still beautiful.

Tenoroc FMA Lost Lakes

 

 

Back in the car, I called to see if Gini needed anything from the store. “How was it?”, she asked. “Very interesting”, I replied. “I guess you’ll be going back.” I guess I will.

 

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

 

Additional Information

Tenoroc Fish Management Area

Lost Lakes East and West – Google Earth

14 Comments on “Lost Lakes Found

  1. Take care crossing that bridge my friend. It looks like a trap for the unwary and naive. You wouldn’t want to end up on the wrong side of the divide even though I’m fairly sure you know where you belong.

    Ringing tomorrow. The wind has gone for now. Meeting my very ordinary pal Andy at 0630.

    Like

    • Although I have been guilty of crossing bridges before I actually encounter them, this particular bridge just looks – “friendly”. Despite its ragged appearance, it allows me to look up and down stream, gaze down upon fish and turtles swimming by and provides access to potentially wonderful birding habitat. Indeed, I don’t believe a bridge such as this has a “wrong side”.

      Best of luck with ringing efforts!

      Like

  2. Hello,

    Another great post and outing. Are there gators in the Lost Lake? Beautiful captures of the birds and dragonflies. The Yellow-throated Warbler and Cuckoo are my favorites. Happy Birding! Enjoy your day and week ahead.

    Like

    • Thank you, Eileen, for your kind comments!

      We’re in Florida! So – even our mud puddles have ‘gators! It was interesting to see that even though the path around the lake was elevated, there were many spots where alligators had climbed the hill to cross from one lake to another.

      Our mid-week is fantastic and looking to be even better! All the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. How cool to see the Yellow-billed Cuckoo! That’s a very secretive bird. I haven’t seen one in years. It’s a summer bird for us. I was also happy to see the Ebony Jewelwing. I’ve only seen it once at a creek in Mississippi. Looks like you had quite the adventure! That rickety boardwalk looked dangerous though. Be careful out there!

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  4. The problem with finding wonderful places like this, Wally, is that there never seems to be enough time to make return visits to them all. There are many places local to me that I intended to visit this summer, but never made it – yes, Covid is largely to blame for several of them, as social distancing would be difficult at them but there are plenty of others where this would not have been a problem.

    Your Carolina Wren gave me the biggest smile!

    I hope that you and Gini have a wonderful weekend ahead of you. Take good care – – – Richard

    Like

    • You are right, Richard. There are too many wonderful places to explore and not enough time!

      I love wrens! Small birds with huge attitudes.

      Our weekend is off to a great start already and promises to get even better!

      Gini and I hope you and Lindsay will have a similar experience.

      Like

  5. It sounds promising Wally. Of course you are a little further south than I where most of our warblers are almost gone through. Summer has flown by without a summer, just odd days when the sun shone. Those pictures tell me you have lots of those leaves that obscure your view still. Nevertheless, you found the gaps. Enjoy your weekend you both 🙂.

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    • Yes, we won’t really begin seeing good numbers of migrants for another month. And yes, those pesky leaves continually obscure my otherwise award-winning photography!

      Our summer has been an “old-fashioned” one. Oppressive heat and humidity punctuated by daily thunderstorms. Love it!

      Yard work today to clear the decks for birding over the weekend!

      All the best.

      Like

  6. I loved coming along on your adventure, Wally. You got some really nice shots of birds a wonderful selection of birds–your unkempt wren and the Yellow-throated Warbler were probably my favorites. The star of the show for me was the your dragonfly shot. Wow! I have never seen a darner like that, so I can’t confirm that it is a Twilight Darner, but you captured the image so well that I am sure that experts would have no trouble confirming it. The whitish damselfly looks to me like a Powdered Dancer, which we have in my area, but it might be safer to get a call from someone in your local area. You might also consider starting an account at odonatacentral.org. It lets you document your sightings and you can also for an expert to vet your record. Southeastern Odes, a Facebook group, has some really knowledgeable people too. Migrating birds are moving through my area now and I hope to capture a few shots of them in the upcoming weeks.

    Like

    • Hi, Mike! Thanks for dropping by.

      I posted the possible Powdered Dancer image on the S.E. Odes F/B page but no one could confirm the i.d. I’m also registered with OC and they still have my listing as “Pending”.

      Oh, well, If it was easy everyone would do it! 🙂

      Very nice to see you and I certainly enjoy your blog!

      Liked by 1 person

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