*Click on photos to enlarge.*
~I never really appreciated ROSEATE SPOONBILLS until I saw them in person. I was really blown away, they are so much more beautiful than I ever thought. J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 5/3/15.~
The J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island was definitely my favorite of all the birding spots I hit in southwest Florida. Like Montezuma NWR and Edwin B. Forsythe NWR, the refuge has a Wildlife Drive. The drive is five miles long and the birding is incredible, with many species of birds present, and they are usually close to the road for fantastic looks. A lot of folks ride bikes through Wildlife Drive, I think this would be an enjoyable way to experience it. The refuge is also really pretty and if you get there early the light is super for photographs. I made it out to the refuge two mornings in a row, the first day I was on my own and the second day Tricia joined me – there was no way she was going to miss out on seeing ROSEATE SPOONBILLS. The spoonbills surprised me in how beautiful and charismatic they were. I have, of course, seen many photos of the birds and I was never particularly moved, but seeing them in person changed that for sure. On the second day, after lunch we also went to Bailey Tract to go for the BLACK-NECKED STILTS We got really good looks at the birds, but due to the time of day the light was very harsh for photos.
Over the two days I had 43 bird species and a river otter between Wildlife Drive and Bailey Tract. Ten of the bird species were life birds for me (although the Anhinga and Brown Pelicans I had already seen outside of the refuge).
~A Double-crested Cormorant comes up with a small snack, J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 5/3/15.~
Yellow-crowned Night Herons are everywhere at the refuge, I thought they were such characters. J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 5/3/15.
This was a favorite of mine, of course. A SWALLOW-TAILED KITE soars overhead at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 5/4/15.
We got really great looks at several BLACK-NECKED STILTS, unfortunately we saw them mid-day and the light was a little harsh for photos. I found this distant photo to be more appealing. J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge – Bailey Tract, 5/4/15.
An adult White Ibis does a flyby at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 5/4/15.
This young Yellow-crowned Night-heron was cracking me up. He/she was very stealthily stalking a shell on the road. J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 5/4/15.
ROSEATE SPOONBILL in flight, J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 5/3/15.
~Tricolored Heron mid-step at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 5/3/15.~
~An immature Little Blue Heron takes a short flight from one pool to another at the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 5/3/15.~
~American White Pelican. This bird was all tucked in, to the point that you couldn’t tell it was a pelican! J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 5/4/15.~
~A first summer White Ibis feeds along the shore of one o the pools at the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 5/4/15.~
One last shot of a ROSEATE SPOONBILL, J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 5/3/15.
~MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD. I was thrilled to see this bird, even though it was so distant. We actually got a pretty good look at one as we drove over the bridge leaving Sanibel Island, the bird flew about 50 yards over our car; I was driving so no photos. ~
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Great Crested Flycatcher
CAPE MAY WARBLER
Nearly forgot – Tricolored Heron!