7-8-19 Birding at the Island Inn, and J.N. Ding Darling NWR, Over Easy Cafe, Blind Pass Beach, Sanibel Island, FL

Today was our first day in Florida. I woke up, and stepped outside my hotel room, and the humid air greeted me like a good friend with a warm hug. Around the corner, I was greeted with a pleasant surprise. 27 Brown Pelicans in a single tree! Had they been roosting overnight? I think so, because some of them seemed to be waking up. A laughing gull waded in the white foam of the surf at the shore. It let out one resounding “Squawk!” and flew to the SW, down the beach. In addition to these two species, we saw…

1 Osprey

3 Fish Crows

After seeing some birds at the hotel, we drove 5 minutes to a wonderful National Wildlife Refuge near the hotel, the J.N. Ding Darling NWR. Here, we drove around Wildlife Drive, the refuge loop. Right when we entered the drive, a curious yellow-crowned night heron greeted our car. When we got to the water, we saw many heron and egrets, along with 1 Red-Bellied Woodpeckers. This is our complete list from the refuge-

1 Reddish Egret

1 Anhinga

1 Red-Bellied Woodpecker

5 Yellow-Crowned Night Herons

2 Green Herons

4 Brown Pelicans

14 Great Egrets

1 Little Blue Heron

3 Osprey

1 Great Blue Heron

6 Double Crested Cormorants

2 Laughing Gulls

1 Spotted Sandpiper

2 Tricolored Herons

We had a wonderful, birdy day at Ding, and we will definitely come back tomorrow morning at low tide, to see what gems lurk in the underbrush!

Today at lunch at the Over Easy Cafe, there were 20 fish crows in a tree. They were making very raspy calls, more so than the American Crow.

After dinner, we went to Blind Pass Beach to shell. After shelling for an hour, we decided to go look under the bridge that connects Captiva Island and Sanibel Island. There, we found a man bait-fishing with a net. Right beside him was a snowy egret trying to steal his bait. On the other side of the bridge, there was a 4ft. Great Blue Heron! The heron stood there, as still as a statue. It was so majestic and beautiful.

I plan to bird tomorrow in Sanibel, and all the other days I am in Florida!

-Gracie McMahon


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Hello. I am currently participating in the ABA Young Birder of the Year contest. I just joined NCIOS, so some of my first entries will be backdated. I have been birding for 6 years, and volunteer at Sand Bluff Bird Observatory. I won 1st place in Ornithology at the State Science Olympiad Tournament in Urbana, IL.

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