Florida 2015 – Sanibel Island

*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.~
~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.~
~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.
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.
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. J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge - Bailey Tract, 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.
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.
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.
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.~
~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.~
~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.~
~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 young White Ibis feeds along the shore of one o the pools at the 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.
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. ~
~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. ~

MOTTLED DUCK
Pied-billed Grebe
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD
Double-crested Cormorant
ANHINGA
American White Pelican
BROWN PELICAN
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
REDDISH EGRET
Green Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
White Ibis
ROSEATE SPOONBILL
Osprey
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE
Black-bellied Plover
BLACK-NECKED STILT
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Willet
Sanderling
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Eurasian Collared-Dove
COMMON GROUND-DOVE
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Great Crested Flycatcher
Fish Crow
Grey Catbird
American Redstart
CAPE MAY WARBLER
Northern Parula
Blackpoll Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Northern Cardinal
Common Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle

Nearly forgot – Tricolored Heron!

8 thoughts on “Florida 2015 – Sanibel Island”

  1. Matt
    Really nice shots
    I really like the spoonbill shot that you can almost see the waves of the water through.

    I like the cormorant too

    Wilma

  2. Wow! Actually deserves another. Wow! Such gorgeous shots! You really captured personalities in many of them. The 2 yellow-crowned nh’s made me laugh, and the 1st spoonbill shot reminds me of the dopey vulture in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons — “dduuuhh, hey maaaa!” And nice lifers, too; I’d love to see that kite! (BTW – If I’d known you needed a Cape May, you could’ve seen one in my yard in the fall any year…)

    1. Thanks so much Marianne, glad you like the pics. I’ve decided that I am definitely a warbler flunky – I can use all the help I can get! If you remember, you got me my lifer Hooded Warbler just over a year ago…. Matt

      Oh yeah, and those YCNHs are total characters!

  3. Nice shot. I have been to DingDarling,it is a great place. I have a cople of photos I would like you to see. How can I send them to you?

    Dick

  4. Hi Matt
    Great shots of the spoonbills, I’ve been going to Ding Darling for the last 7 years and I’m still waiting for the moment to be able to create an image of one of those birds, if you are ever down in the southwest section of Florida there are a few “hidden” gems you should try to go to for some great birding
    Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
    Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management
    Area
    Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest
    Bird Rookery Swamp

    1. Thanks so much Stephen. And thanks for the hidden gems, I actually made to Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve on the recommendation of a local. Unfortunately time restraints left me there in the heat of the day, so I probably didn’t do as well as I could have. Thanks for the comment. Matt

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