Wednesday, February 17, 2016

J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

After our two hours of paid parking at Sanibel Island's Lighthouse parking was up (parking there is $4 an hour), we headed to the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge's Wildlife Drive. The birding got better as the tide dropped throughout the day.
White Ibis is perhaps the easiest bird to photograph in Florida.  They're plentiful, fairly tame, and can be found near almost any body of water.  I only photograph them now when they're doing intertesting things, like holding a strange fish....

Or fighting... I assume these are two males.  I've never had the pleasure to photograph this behavior before.  These two engaged in mid-air combat for about a minute, with the bird on the left eventually chasing the other individual off.

Piping plover?  Semi-palmated plover?  

Pied-billed Grebes are frequent in most still water bodies in southwest Florida.

This was just one slice of a massive bird panorama.  I estimate there were over 1000 white ibis, herons, egrets, and roseate spoonbills.  Truly a magnificent sight.

Willets are another bird that I have photographed quite a bit, so I turn my camera to them in situations where they're showing interesting behaviors, like eating a small horseshoe crab.

Short-billed Dowitcher?  I'm going solely on Sibley's advice that they occur mostly on tidal flats, as opposed to the Long-billed Dowitcher preference for freshwater ponds. 

Surprise!  This large, awake American Alligator was being guarded by a refuge volunteer.  He didn't want anyone going too close.

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