Three Weeks Birding in Florida - Sanibel Island and Ding Darling Reserve.

I shall begin with some advice on the choice of a base for visiting The Ding Darling Reserve, Corkscrew Sanctuary, and the beach reserves along the coast from Naples to Cape Coral. We had chosen to stay in Naples as we had done so perhaps 20 years ago - enjoying the quiet evening strolls up the beach by our hotel watching seabirds as they came in to roost on the sands. I regret that this is no longer possible (although the pier at Naples remains a good place to see Brown Pelicans and dolphins) due to Manswarm: it is a wonder the birds can find anywhere to stand at times! Furthermore, although convenient for The Northern Everglades and Corkscrew Sanctuary, the road-trip to Sanibel Island is problematic as the causeway to the island is choked in the morning (as the whole of America seems to want to get onto the island) and is then choked in the evening  as everyone (including us) decided to leave. Be aware also that sticking to I-75 for as long as possible is to be recommended as it is a faster road.

When we return (as we must) to Sanibel Island we shall stay on the island itself so we can visit Ding Darling and the other reserves as well as Captiva Island without meeting too much traffic: very few of the cars actually go to the reserves it seems. We were unable to visit the beautiful parks around the lighthouse this year as we had wasted too much time travelling. When visiting Corkscrew we will then be able to travel in the opposite direction to everyone else and avoid an hour delay each way at the causeway. Heading over to Cape Coral to view Burrowing Owls will also be easier than travelling very early in the morning from Naples. (More on these owls later). It would then be sensible to look for lodgings near to The 'Glades if they are to be visited as well.

Of course, Ding Darling as we all seem to call this gem of a reserve is known to everyone and is another place where one drives along a one-way road getting out of the car to view the birds at will. It was the Reddish Egrets and American White Pelicans that were th highlight for us on this occasion although the river otter was great to see as well as the Black Rat Snake (I think).

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Reddish Egret with fish.

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American White Pelicans.

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This River Otter swam parallel with the road for about 50 yards.
We also enjoyed watching the Roseate Spoonbills flying in to roost at the end of the afternoon and it was good to also finally see some willets!

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Roseate Spoonbill.

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Roseate Spoonbill.

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No - it isn't venomous!
There are many other places to visit on this beautiful little gem of an island that are of interest to the wild-life viewer and Captiva Island is also worth at lest a day as well: visit the excellent Visitor Centre first for information.

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