Sunday, February 7, 2010

Roseate Spoonbill and more on Sanibel Island

On Friday morning we left early to drive from Naples to Sanibel Island. We arrived at the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge at about 8:30 AM and were surprised to find the gate locked, then read a big sign: CLOSED ON FRIDAYS. What a disappointment, my only chance this trip to see the refuge! Why close on a Friday? Why not on a Monday like  restaurants that also cater to tourists ? I could have slapped myself for not reading my Birding Florida guide more carefully.

A volunteer in blue uniform came out with a board indicating that the 2 mile Indigo Trail was open. After a brief discussion with my husband I started walking toward the trail, leaving him to his own devices.As I passed the gate to the refuge road I noticed in the distance a person in light blue walking down that road. Entering the Indigo Trail I ran into a guy who drew my attention to  a partially submerged alligator in the ditch by the trail, saying that he had walked the entire trail without seeing anything else of interest. No birds!

A Northern Mockingbird, the state bird of Florida, was perched on a bush near by. I had seen plenty of those at home.

Anyway, I backtracked and looked down the road into the sanctuary. The person in a light blue outfit was receding in the distance. Well, I am sorry, I too had to find a way in, and soon discovered a spot with foot tracks where I could easily squeeze past the gate. I did so and soon was walking down the warm smooth empty blacktop road. After a few minutes I arrived at at large lake or pond on the east side of the road. A Roseate Spoonbill and a Reddish Egret (changed label from Little Blue Heron; see comment below) were feeding companionably side by side in the shadow near the opposite shore and were slowly making their way across to my side. I was jubilant: the bird I had come to see! The sun was coming from the wrong angle for a good shot, but no matter what...

Closer to shore a single duck was walking along the water's edge, a Mottled Duck, a species threatened by extinction through hybridization with mallards. 

.Finally a good view of the Roseate Spoonbill 

A pair of Pied-billed Grebes were floating on the lake on the other side of the road. This species of Grebes seems to be the most common pond bird in Florida.

Finishing with my camera I turned back to the road, when I saw the person in light blue come toward me: the volunteer who I had thought I had left behind at the visitors center! In the meantime another person had walked up from the gate. The volunteer kindly directed us back to center explaining that the animals needed a day of rest from visitors. Embarrassed as I was, I was also very happy that I had gotten the photos.

Back at the center we drove to the Bailey Tract, the only part of the sanctuary that was open.  It was an area of ponds connected by paths. The only birds I saw there was a male Anhinga in breeding plumage

and several Common Moorhens

 and an American Coot

along with several Snowy Egrets and Little Blue Herons, and many Yellow-rumped Warblers, flitting through the bushes and trees.

To be continued ... withTerns and  Gulls on Bowman Beach, a trip to the Everglades, and finally a walk down the old pier in Naples at sunset


  1. Looks like you ended up having a great day out there! The Roseate Spoonbill is so beautiful! What an unusual looking bird.

  2. ...your Anhinga in breeding plummage is gorgeous and I LOVE the Roseate Spoonbills. I want to go back to Sanibel!! Glad you were able to make it to the lake to see the spoonbills.

  3. I love the detail you have in the backshot of the Anhinga. Excellent!!

  4. Don't know if you got fruther north on your trip around Florida, but Cedar Key, west of US 19 and
    50 miles sw of Gainsville has many birds there, the whole area is a wildlife sanctuary. We always see many Roseate Spoonbills, it is a birders delight. The whole island is a fun and a quietly exciting place, my sister lives there. Also was sorry to hear the Flamingo Lodge is gone, my father
    was on the construction crews that built it. He had horrendous stories to tell us about the mosquitos, alligators, snakes,etc.
    It was the first time white man had been in some the the places they went to. All supplies and equipment was taken in on small boats as anything very big could not get thru the mangroves and shallows. I most vividly remember him telling us kids about the mosquitos. They were so thick that they would fill your nose and ear canals, there was no place for the men to eat except out in the open and they ate thousands of mosquitos that would get in their mouths and sandwiches. Glad he was a part of the glades history.

  5. Anonymous, thank you for your comment. No we didn't get further north, but I will make a note of the places you mention for the next time we go. Thanks for telling me about your dad's experiences during the building of the Flamingo Lodge. Those mosquitoes must have been horrific.

  6. The bird with feeding along side the spoonbill is actually a Reddish Egret.

    Great shots!

    1. You are right. I see the pinkish base of the bill. Also the bird is too large compared with the Roseate Spoonbill to be a Little Blue H Thank you. I will make the correction.


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