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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Ding Darling Refuge

February 28th, 2011 · No Comments

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The Roseate Spoonbills at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on the subtropical barrier island of Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico are one of the most beautiful bird species I have ever seen. Their incredible rosy color has a tremendous attraction for me.

When the nature photo tour I took arrived at Ding Darling, the fog was heavy and we despaired of good photos of the Spoonies. As soon as the gate opened at 7 a.m. we slowly drove the 4-mile one-way road through the refuge looking carefully through the fog and occasionally spotting the pink Spoonies in the distance. Russ Burden, our tour leader, told us not to expect anything better as they usually went to sleep in the bushes after 9 or 10 a.m., but we nevertheless made one more pass through the refuge.

One Spoonbill in the Distance with Friends at 8:50 a.m.

One Spoonbill in the Distance with Friends at 8:50 a.m.

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But the fog began to lift about 9 a.m., and by 10 a.m. several of them were feeding close by us on the lagoon. They feed in shallow fresh or coastal waters by swinging their bills from side to side as they steadily walk through the water.

But more interesting than watching them eat breakfast was seeing them take baths.

Roseate Spoonbills Take Their Morning Bath

Roseate Spoonbills Take Their Morning Bath

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A Spoonbill Takes Off

A Spoonbill Takes Off

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That is a BIG Spoon!

That is a BIG Spoon!

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Of course, Roseate Spoonbills weren’t the only bird species at the Ding Darling Reserve. At one point bird after bird flew right by us. I want now only to share this one shot.

A Fling of Three Willets (or is it 4 1/2?)

A Fling of Three Willets (or is it 4 1/2?)

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One photographer told me that he had been coming to Ding Darling every year for the past seven years and never had seen the Spoonies so close. We were incredibly lucky.

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Posted in: Florida, Photography

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