I’ve just returned from a few very pleasant days on Sanibel Island, in the high 70’s during the day and chilly at night and early morning requiring layers. I also lucked out in that there was no rain. I stayed in a beach cottage along West Gulf Drive, about midway between the east end stores and restaurants, and the Ding Darling Wild Life Refuge. A short stroll past some of the cottages took me to a beach pavilion where I could salute the sunset.
My primary objective for the trip was the J. Norwood “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge. This is an outstanding facility comprised of over 6000 acres and named for Darling. He was a Pulitzer prize winning editorial cartoonist of national renown who was also an ardent conservationist. In 1934 he was named as the first head of the forerunner of the Fish & Wildlife Service. Subsequently he designed the blue goose logo of the federal refuge system, and initiated the federal duck stamp program and designed the first duck stamp.
There is an excellent visitor’s center which houses many well done educational exhibits. Then, there is a four mile two lane, one-way trail through the Refuge, passing the shoal ponds and small bays
and the mangrove-swamp-edged canals which allow for tidal exchanges with the interior ponds and bays. The mangrove swamps, themselves, are a home for Refuge denizens.
The herons, egrets, spoonbills and ibis stroll across the tidal flats and shoals to feed; the pelicans, cormorants, and anhingas will surf and dive the only somewhat deeper waters of the ponds.
The drive is open daily (closed Friday) from 7:30 to sunset. Early morning and low tide is a good combination to see the birds feeding. I went through two to three times a day and almost always captured a worthwhile image.
Nineteen images from my trip are in the Places Galleries of my web site. Click here to jump to the galleries.