We managed to escape on the last flight out of Philadelphia before winter storm Jonas (OK, maybe not literally the last but it felt that way).  Even with the last minute struggle to change our flight to Friday night and to make sure there was a car and a room in Sanibel, we were still apprehensive.  Indeed, after taxiing out to the runway the pilot announced a further delay in order to DE-ICE THE WINGS.  How comforting was that??  I was convinced he would abort but we made it and slipped in to our cottage about 1:00 in the morning.  Our first view of the beach the next morning (while Jonas was howling at home) …. WHITE STUFF …  but, a very comfortable kind.

Image 01


Yet more white stuff is seen here.  Sanibel Island is known for being a shelling paradise.  For some reason the shape and position of the island in the currents of the Gulf of Mexico result in extraordinary deposits of shells with each high tide.

Image 02


It’s something to do every day.  The fanatics are on the beach before sunrise with headlamps, searching for the elusive and therefore prized Junonia.  It’s so rare, finders wind up with their pictures in the paper.  Aside from the Junonia, however, we enjoyed our beach walks and inevitably came home with shells that caught our eye.  The above sight is typical.  The image is now a part of my place mat collection.


Another exciting activity is photographing the sea birds that meet daily on the beach.  Aside from the routine gulls we also enjoyed Willets, Ruddy Turnstones, skittering Sanderlings, and clusters of Royal Terns having bad hair days.  The terns are tolerant of walking humans ( dogs, another story) and gather in groups at sometimes the same spots along the beach each morning.  I’ve enjoyed photographing them over my fourteen years of occasional visits.  I posted recently about the need to get prone to capture some scenes and the terns are certainly in that category.

Image 03

I particularly love this image below.  He seemed to be zoned out in the joy of the morning sunlight and breeze.  I heard him murmuring, “Hey, Dude, is this cool or whaaat?”  I absolutely agreed.

IMG_0274 640


The tern was chillin’ in the sunrise along with others also drawn to dawn.  Most of us react to the drama of sunrises and sunsets and though I’ve seen and photographed lots of them I’m not immune to the next one.  Here’s one morning in which the sun was filtered more than usual but there was still light for the early morning shell seekers.

Image 08


And at the other end of the day, the sun’s farewell.

Image 04


Not every day was warm or clear or sunny, but at its worst it was better than being up home in February.  Even a foggy morning calls a photographer.

Image 07


Another major attraction of Sanibel is the 5200 acre “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  We managed to drive through on the eight mile Wildlife Trail almost every day.  It’s best to do so slightly before and after low tide as the bird life is then feasting on creatures from the exposed sand flats.  One sees a great deal of White Pelicans, Ibis, Herons, Willets, and Cormorants.  In fact they report over 200 species of birds.  Here are some selected captures.

Wilbur and Wilma Willet

Wilbur and Wilma Willet


Doc, I have this really bad neck pain.

Doc, I have this really bad neck pain.


This one made me literally laugh out loud.  They tolerate humans being close and I was about six feet away from his bath.

Image 09


Finally, an after-breakfast Cormorant Cleanup.

Image 05


This was a nice experience for us, and certainly warmer and sunnier than February at home.  We thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed and informal atmosphere at Beachview Cottages on Sanibel Island.  As always, glad to be home but also wondering why??


There is a gallery of additional images from the two weeks.  To view it please click here.




  1. agoldensmile Says:

    Love the zen seagull and the sun’s reflection on the water! I enjoy the way you show and tell a story, always with a bit of humor. You inspire me to get back on word press.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Amy. I enjoyed the work you did earlier on your blog. I’m sure you have tons of spare time to work on it but they’re fun to look back on. You have the pictures; just fill the space between them with words.

  2. Jay Says:

    Ralph………you are terrific, thanks for sharing the photos and words!

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Hi, Jay, and thanks. Yeah, I seem to be a one-trick pony for birds and beaches. But, I don’t golf or tennis; one can only take so many naps a day or read so many books a day; and there probably shouldn’t be more than one cocktail hour a day so what’s left … birds and beaches. C’ya this summer.

  3. Bob Stevens Says:

    Lovely, as usual, Ralph.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Bob. Hope Useppa’s been good for you this winter. I came home to 4″ of water on my grade-level pad, and a full elevator pit. Oh, well, life on a sandbar. Best to Sydney. C’ya this summer.

  4. Jeanne Says:

    I look forward to your masterpieces. Love those sea birds.

  5. eajackson Says:

    I can feel the ocean breeze. Smell the salty air. Enjoy the warmth of the sun. All taken from your pictures. That little Ibis taking a bath is adorable. Thanks for blogging.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, for following and commenting, Beth. Reading your comment made me think that maybe you should start a blog about your photography, your horse and farm, and your work at the vet’s. Just fill the space between pictures with words.

  6. Rich Lewis Says:

    Thanks for sharing your trip to Sanibel Island. Your posts always are so interesting. By the way, I really love the photograph of the morning shell seekers. It’s one of those perfect compositions with a great story to tell. I will also never cease to love the fact that you captured the coolest bird in Florida. I bet if you peeled his feathers back, you’d find a few tattoos and piercings.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Rich. I, too, liked that sunrise because the sun’s disk was so dimmed, and because of the silhouettes of the shellers. As to the zen tern, I felt so lucky, and I really feel that he was kinda zoned out in the pleasure of the morning.

  7. Joe perno Says:

    Love your story as usual Ralph. You always make me feel as though i am there with you. It’s really hard to pick a Fave but I do like the “Cool” tern and the Foggy morning as well as the Sunset reflection in the ocean. Hope to go there someday

  8. Janet Hadley Says:

    Ralph, thank you for bringing Sanibel Island to NJ. We need it. I look forward to each and every one of your postings. The pictures, the commentary, they’re both my favorite part, if you know what I mean. This time you had me laughing out loud at Wilber andWilma Willet (it was the names) and Doc I have this really bad neck pain.

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