Friday, July 25, 2014

Spotlight on a Hotspot: "Ding" Darling NWR

Yellow-crowned Night-Herons can be seen
feeding in the lagoons during the early morning hours.
For someone that lives in the Midwest, I've spent a lot of time birding in southwest Florida. Like most birders that have traveled to the area, "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is one of my favorite hotspots to visit when I'm in the area. This NWR is located on Sanibel Island and is most definitely worth the trip.

The easiest way to bird the refuge is from the Wildlife Drive. This takes you along many of the water units throughout the property and has plenty of places to pull over and explore. The drive is 4 miles long, and you are sure to find many species all along the route.

There are also two trails at the refuge that can be good birding spots - Shell Mound Trail and the Indigo Trail. The Shell Mound Trail is one of the best places in the refuge to find Black-whiskered Vireos, and the Indigo Trail is the best place to bird on Fridays when the Wildlife Drive is closed.

Another part of the refuge, called the Bailey Tract, is located just a few minutes away. It's a great place to look for herons, egrets, Black-necked Stilts, and alligators.

You can learn more about this refuge by visiting the NuttyBirder's location guide here.

Anhingas are extremely common at this refuge.
Always keep an eye on the sky for a chance to see a Magnificent Frigatebird.
If you get really lucky during the summer months, you might catch a glimpse of a Mangrove Cuckoo.
"Ding" Darling NWR is a fantastic place to see Roseate Spoonbills.

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