Wednesday, August 26, 2015

J.N. "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge

Sanibel Island is a barrier island off the coast of southwestern Florida. Known for an abundance of shells, beachgoers assume the "sanibel stoop", it is a popular vacation spot with resorts and house rentals available all year round. Many people don't know, however, that Sanibel Island is home to a National Wildlife Refuge know particularly for it's migratory bird populations.



Jay Norwood Darling, also known as Ding, was a cartoonist who won two Pulitzer Prizes for his editorial cartoons, headed what is now the US Fish and Wildlife Service for 2 years, and in 1936 created the National Wildlife Federation. In 1945 he was instrumental in blocking the sale of environmentally valuable land on Sanibel Island  to developers and President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order creating the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge was renamed the J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge in 1962.



Today you can visit the J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge wildlife drive for a mere $5 per carload,  or $1 per pedestrian or bicycle.  It is open year round. The visitors center is free of charge and you can check out the details on dates and prices here 









We visited early on a Sunday morning which was the perfect time to visit. There were few other visitors and no traffic.There was a family visiting like we were, many photographers and a dad and son heading out in their kayak. There are several pull-offs on wildlife drive and you can take as much time as you want to explore. But know that the speed limit is 15 and it can take some time to do the drive. Mainly we saw birds - no gators this time!










This refuge is known for it's "Big 5" birds - the American White Pelican, the Mangrove Cuckoo, the Reddish Egret, the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron and the cream of the crop, the Roseate Spoonbill.  Commonly mistaken for a flamingo, roseate spoonbills are naturally pink and darken with age. We were lucky enough to spot a few of them - can you see them in any of the bird pictures above?  If you can't here is what they look like.



I'm glad Mr. Darling had the foresight to save this land from developers and I'm glad I was able to spend a peaceful morning here. If you're a bird lover, give it a visit. And even if you're not, it's a short, enjoyable excursion on Sanibel.












Hint: In the top photo, there are a coupla  roseate spoonbills in the left of the photo - look for the hint of pintk - and in the fourth picture, it is located third from the right..










I'm linking up with Friday Postcards at Walking on Travels, Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections En Route and  Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox! Hop on over and find some travel inspiration!

13 comments:

  1. Lovely - looks like a peaceful day!

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    1. It was very peaceful - and not too hot yet!

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  2. What a wonderful place to explore and do some nature photography Jill, gorgeous

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    1. Thank you so much! And thanks for visiting!

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  3. I enjoy places like this! I also enjoy the stories behind places that were saved from commercial developers. Glad that an area like this was saved for future generations to enjoy.

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    1. Me too Ruth! I really enjoyed visiting the Visitors Center and learning about Mr. Darling. It is still undeveloped but it was fun imagining what Sanibel Island was like when he was there in the 1930's and 1940's. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. My dad retired to Naples, Florida but we've never been to Sanibel. We'll definitely have to add it to our list for our next visit! Thanks for sharing.

    #wkendtravelinspiration

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    1. It's a fun place for a day trip from Naples Jennifer! Thanks for visiting!

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  5. One of my childhood friends went to Sanibel every summer, and she made it sound so nice. I knew that it had great beaches but wasn't aware of this wildlife refuge. It looks like a great place to explore. Thanks for linking up with #WkendTravelInspiration.

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    1. I really enjoy Sanibel and have been a few times but this was my first time to the wildlife refuge. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Sanibel looks like a great place to spend a day. The birds are gorgeous, and I know I would have fun here with my camera. Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

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    1. Thanks for visiting! It is a really great place to take your camera and just play- lots of photo opportunities!

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