Monday, November 28, 2016

Ding Darling

Monday November 28th

Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Last February we had a surprise visitor hanging out with the American White Pelicans at  the Wildlife Drive at Ding Darling on Sanibel Island. For two or three day a Great White Pelican, a native from the Old World, was a star attraction.  I don't believe that its provenance has been determined yet or were it went off to, but it did draw a lot of attention.

Back in January, 2010 we experienced a terrible cold spell which resulted it a great deal of damage to agriculture and to wildlife. We had major fish kills, which decimated the local snook population and had even effected larger cold sensitive animals such as sharks, sea turtles and manatees. Even iguanas fell frozen from the trees. And at Ding Darling the cold is suspected in the death of Wilma, an old, rare, female American Crocodile. She was another star attraction at Ding, as she was the only American Crocodile found on the Gulf Coast. Today, her bones are on display at the visitor center.

In the Spring we come out to Ding in search of Mangrove Cuckoos, Black-whiskered Vireos and migrating songbirds. The last couple of year we had another star attraction with a lone White-Crowned Pigeon taking advantage of the Tropical Hardwood Hammock found along the Shell Mound Trail. 

Right now we are seeing some interesting waterfowl making rare appearances at Ding. Last Saturday a lone Long-tailed Duck was photographed along the Wildlife Drive and last weak we have a report of a Brant.  Both appear to be one day wonders. I didn't expect to find anything unusual today, but you never know. 

I arrived at low tide, which is very important for your best wildlife observation experience. We had hundreds of wading birds - White Ibis, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Reddish Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Yellow-Crowned Night-herons, Little Blue Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, and Wood Storks. There were dozens of American White Pelicans, Brown Pelicans, Double-Crested Cormorants, Pied-billed Grebes and Blue-winged Teal.  We also had Anhinga, Osprey, Magnificent Frigatebird, Vultures, Laughing Gulls, a Ring-billed Gull, Willets, Greater Yellowlegs, Ruddy Turnstones, Semipalmated Plovers, Black-bellied Plovers, Dunlin and  Least Sandpipers . E-Bird Report
Great Egret

 Also saw a lot of Mullets, Both living and dead.  As the tide was moving in a large number of dead and blotted mullets came into the lagoons. This speaks of a fish kill from a recent Red Tide incident in the waters around Sanibel.

An American White and a Brown Pelican

An Immature Little Blue Heron

Reddish Egret Sporting a Tracking Radio

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