Ding Darling

United States' flag
North America » United States » Florida » Sanibel Island
November 13th 2010
Published: November 13th 2010
Edit Blog Post

During our week on Sanibel, we visited the JN "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge at least 6 times. The Visitors' Center has well-informed volunteers. We learned enough from Barry, our driver and narrator on the Tram ride through the preserve that we took the same route with the jeep the next day and spent more time "bird watching." We took a sunset cruise from the Tarpon Bay Facility where Brie, a marine biologist, did a fascinating pre-cruise talk around a salt water "table" and allowed us to hold many shell specimens. The cruise took us to several rookeries where hundreds of birds were returning to spend the night. Tarpon Bay is where we rented the kayaks for the Mangrove trail mentioned in a previous travel blog.

The preserve was started when Ding Darling, a syndicated political and environmental cartoonist, and a few others got wind that developers were going to buy up all the land and turn Sanibel into a Miami Beach clone. At the present time 70% of the land on Sanibel Island is protected. The flora and fauna is amazing. The trails and boardwalks out into the estuary allow us to have experiences we could never know. The kayak trail through the Mangroves was well marked and safe, it took us where we wouldn't be able to go without these enormous preservation efforts.

We had been to Ding Darling about five or six years ago. We were in a hurry to get to the beach and whizzed through it without a docent or even a bird book. So happy that we could take the time to really appreciate it this trip. We did see an old female crocodile here in 2004, she was quite the site. One of our guides said that she died and that her skeleton will be on exhibit in the Visitors Center. He also said that they had a memorial service for her and toasted her with .......Gatorade!

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Elevated BoardwalksElevated Boardwalks
Elevated Boardwalks

I'm on the lookout for accessible attractions. Families with strollers and people using walkers or wheelchairs are accomodated nicely as is everyone!
Wood StorkWood Stork
Wood Stork

I had this as a Heron ... travel blog buddy corrected me - thank heavens for science teachers!
Cruise Crew Were GreatCruise Crew Were Great
Cruise Crew Were Great

Tom was the Captain and Brie was the narrator. It was a gorgeous night. Nicely balanced - some talking time; some time to just take it all in in silence!
One of The Many RookeriesOne of The Many Rookeries
One of The Many Rookeries

Safety in numbers.

This little mangrove island seemed to be full of anhingas. When they swim their sharp beaks and neck are all that is visible - they look like snakes in the water.
Pair of Nesting OspreyPair of Nesting Osprey
Pair of Nesting Osprey

The nesting platforms are built to keep the osprey away from trying to nest in dangerous spots - like power poles.
Kayakers ReturningKayakers Returning
Kayakers Returning

This is where we kayaked to the Mangrove Trail.

15th November 2010

Hey girl - you heron is a wood stork. Sorry - the science teacher in me.
15th November 2010

OOOPs --- it's a wood stork!
Hey Casey - guess where we were tonight - very scientific - Woody's Waterside! Charlie Kutcher's Mardi Gras Monday - great grouper, jambalaya, etc. Thanks for identifying the bird!

Tot: 1.199s; Tpl: 0.057s; cc: 11; qc: 29; dbt: 0.021s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.3mb