Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Visit to Ding Darling NWR

Another highlight of my recent trip to Florida was a trip up to Sanibel Island with the specific intent of seeing Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  I was looking forward to my first opportunity to use the federal Duck Stamp that my son gave me for Christmas, but since it was President's Day weekend, the entrance fee to The Wildlife Drive was waived, and my stamp wasn't needed.

Ding Darling's website recommends visiting at low tide, but we couldn't and decided to just make the best of it.  I hope that on a future trip, a visit at low tide will be possible.  I bet it would be amazing!

Reddish Egret

What a neat looking species.  Love the bill colors!

just a few White Pelicans

Semi-Palmated Plover

I think the thing I liked best about Florida was the quantity of birds I saw.  Where at home, I might be lucky to find a single Pied-Billed Grebe, in Florida, I'd see a flock of 20 or more.

That's a lot of birds to take in, and it's not even low tide!

Wow.  Thick as thieves.

Gulf Fritillary

Black-Bellied Plover

Red Knots???  

The people along the Wildlife Road said there were some Red Knots on the peninsula, and I think these may be the right ones.

Mystery bird????
Ruddy Turnstone (thanks to Rosemary for help with ID!)

Great Blue Heron

This GBH was right next to the road, and within just a few minutes, it caught a fish right in front of everyone!

Pileated Woodpecker

Don't forget to look up!

Another unexpected surprise was passing Don and Lillian Stokes on one of the walking trails.  I immediately recognized Lillian from following their birding blog.  It was at her recommendation that I ended up purchasing a Canon Powershot.  George was upset with me for not speaking to them, but I was too shy.

After Ding Darling, we drove over to the Sanibel Island lighthouse and fish pier.

Brown Anole and Six-Lined Racerunner Lizards (I think)

View from beach back to bridge to mainland

Sanibel Island lighthouse

Oil House (for the lighthouse)

Double-Crested Cormorant

Black-Bellied Plover

Great Egret and Snowy Egret

I'm not sure if these people had been fishing on the pier, and put their fresh catch in the cooler, but the egrets were hanging around and quite interested in that cooler.  It was funny, but sad, to see them so comfortable around the people.

Bette Davis eyes!  (Snowy Egret)

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