Saturday, January 22, 2011

Snow Egret


The island's “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge named for Jay Norwood Darling a dedicated environmentalist, is a paradise for birders and walkers. Two hundred species of birds find haven in this sanctuary and an equal number of fish species spend their early lives maturing among the protective roots of the Refuge's mangrove forest. Tangled, dark and secret, this dense growth of Black and Red Mangroves is called “the nursery of the seas”.

White Ibis
One steamy afternoon we ambled along Wildlife Drive through the Refuge, branching off to explore the ‘Indigo Trail’ and the ‘Shell Mound Trail’. Feeding in the shallow waters along the edge of mangrove clusters, gloriously pink Roseate spoon bills tip-toed about on spindly legs. Pelicans and western sandpipers preened and.sunbathed on sand banks in the middle of a lake. No more than six feet from us a tri-colored heron, a yellow-crowned night-heron and a little blue heron sunned themselves on a branch.

A few steps away I became so engrossed with photographing an anhinga, I failed to notice that I was standing in the middle of a fire ant's nest. Within seconds the minute ants were swarming over my feet and up my trouser legs....with painful results.

Alligators and a lone male crocodile (until recently)  are also resident here. Andy Sares, our guide on a tram tour, told us that the crocodile had at one time been relocated to the Everglades. The curmudgeonly old reptile, asserting his preference for life at the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge, had set out from the Everglades and completed the 80-mile trek back to his home on the island.

Like the crocodile, I found Sanibel Island's serenity and tropical ambience irrisistible. And like the crocodile, I too will be back.

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

Posted on Saturday, 22 January, 2011


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