It appears that you are currently using Ad Blocking software. What are the consequences? Click here to learn more.
Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Sanibel Island

February 9th, 2013 · 2 Comments

Print This Post Print This Post

Only about one mile of Pine Island sound separates the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island from Pine Island, where Sharon and I rented a condo for the month of January. But since we don’t have a boat or wings, we had to drive across four bridges on a 37 mile trip that took more than an hour to reach this prime birding location.

Ding Darling was a national syndicated editorial cartoonist who was an early pioneer for wildlife conservation, working this theme into his cartoons. He was instrumental in blocking the sale of what became the refuge and at his urging President Harry S. Truman in 1945 created the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge, later renamed in Ding Darling’s honor.

In birding circles the Ding Darling Refuge is the most renowned place in Southwest Florida. It deserves this reputation, particularly for the Roseate Spoonbills that feed there. I saw them.

A Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaja ajaja) Flies Overhead

A Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaja ajaja) Flies Overhead

Click on the picture above to enlarge
Feeding in Dark Waters

Feeding in Dark Waters

Click on the picture above to enlarge

We don’t have any spoonbills in Colorado, so seeing these birds was a delight.

A much more common bird also pleased me. We call this medium-sized plover a Killdeer, because someone with an overactive imagination thought that its song sounds like “kill deer.” You be the judge: Killdeer Song Sound.

We do have lots of Killdeer throughout the U.S., but I have never made a photo of one that pleased me more than this shot at first light with the simple background of the estuary.

A Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) at First Light

A Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) at First Light

Click on the picture above to enlarge

But my biggest thrill was a chance meeting with someone who reads the articles that I write on my website about diabetes. For most people the refuge is the four-mile Wildlife Drive through the estuaries and mangrove swamps, but Sharon and I got out of the car several times. When we walked to the Red Mangrove Overlook, another person was there. She came up to me asking, “Are you a David?” When I replied that I am, she asked, “Mendosa?” She recognized me from a photo on my website and said that her name was Maureen Whiteman, that she lived in Connecticut, and that the nutritional information I provided changed her life. Sharon took this photo of us.

I Met My Reader Maureen Whiteman at Ding Darling

I Met My Reader Maureen Whiteman at Ding Darling

Click on the picture above to enlarge

In the afternoon Sharon and I explored other parts of Sanibel Island, including the Pond Apple Park where we hiked the 1.6 mile loop trail. Along the way we spotted this woodpecker at work.

A Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) Pecks Away at Wood

A Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) Pecks Away at Wood

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The end of the trail appropriately reaches a large pond. There we saw an Anhinga drying its wings, which it needs to do after diving to search for underwater prey. Unlike ducks and many other birds, the Anhinga can’t waterproof its feathers using oil from its uropygial gland. So its feathers can become waterlogged. The advantage is that it can dive easily and stay down for a long time.

An Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) Dries Its Feathers on an Outcroping in the Pond Apple Pond

An Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) Dries Its Feathers on an Outcroping in the Pond Apple Pond

Click on the picture above to enlarge

On a bank of the pond I spotted a large alligator sunning itself.

An Alligator Catches Some Rays Beside the Pond Apple Pond

An Alligator Catches Some Rays Beside the Pond Apple Pond

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Since it looked quite friendly with a pleasant smile, I went right up to it and said hello. It didn’t approach me or respond, but I didn’t mind.

Share

Posted in: Florida

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bob Fenton // Feb 12, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Appreciate the pictures very much. Especially another picture of the Anhinga since I had looked up more information on the bird and can believe that it was drying itself. Some of the cormorants also look like they are doing this when they are warming themselves in the sun.

    Thanks again, Bob

  • 2 hal lamster // Mar 1, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    David: I just got back from a week on Sanibel with my family. Did the Ding Darling drive a few times. Saw the Roseates and plenty of Anhingas. But didn’t get to see any alligators.

Leave a Comment