Saturday, October 16, 2010

Eve Of Ding Darling Days 2010

Two visits to J.N. "ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge this week offered distinct observation opportunities made on the eve of Ding Darling Days 2010.

The Double-crested Cormorant above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

I weighed early morning light of more importance than low tides that occurred near midday in planning my visits.

The picture perfect weather on the morning of the first visit led to an initial sighting of a solitary Great Blue Heron in the company of a pair of Wood Storks while grebes flew along the shoreline into the mangroves before I could get out of the car.

The Belted Kingfisher above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

Double-crested Cormorants were abundant and offered entertaining views of their feeding behavior.

I couldn't help but be captivated by the extraordinary activity and great numbers of fish jumping from the water.

The Belted Kingfisher above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

A solitary Roseate Spoonbill made a flyby while a Bald Eagle and an Osprey flew together across the sky.

Laughing gulls were the most abundant species seen on the first day.

The Laughing Gull above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

It was interesting to observe the gulls feed for themselves while dining on shrimp.

Once a gull found its quarry, it was of course expected to be and was harassed by others of its kind.

The Belted Kingfisher above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

A Little Blue Heron was observed to capture shrimp as well as the bird flew from its mangrove perch several times very gracefully.

The fish and shrimp had a sense of presence of a bird flying near the water's surface and would make defensive maneuvers effectively.

The Roseate Spoonbill above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

A pair of Belted Kingfisher consumed the lion's share of my observations on the first day as they remained relatively close to me for some time.

A pair of kingfishers were at one point in a dispute of territory with one bird driven from the area.

The Wood Stork above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

From either side of Wildlife Drive, the feeding behavior of the kingfisher was observed as the birds would hover about 35 feet above the water's surface for over five seconds before a dive to find its prey.

The kingfishers were simply too fast for me to get an appealing photograph which I've been practicing to get since my initial observations of terns that have similar behavior at nearby beaches.

The Belted Kingfisher above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

From a much greater distance I was able to observe a Belted Kingfisher that was perched on a low lying branch while it made numerous dives into the water.

I concluded the kingfisher was merely making an attempt to cleanse itself as it never came up with food although preened itself on each return to the branch.

The Black-bellied Plover above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

The early morning weather forecast heard on the radio was ominous calling for rain south of the Caloosahatchee River on day two.

Although the sky was overcast for much of the morning offering a much different lighting opportunity for photography, precipitation was fortunately never a threat.

The Bald Eagle with Osprey above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

It was on this day that I found a more rewarding experience that would unfold through my five hour single trip through the wildlife refuge.

On both visits however, the swarming and biting sand gnats were almost unbearable as a breeze was barely noticeable from the east with repellent almost more of a nuisance than the insects themselves.

The Brown Pelican above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

The view toward the west at water control structure 2 (WC2) on the second day offered a surprisingly larger number of wading birds with the water level higher at sunrise.

The Wood Storks I had seen the day before were not initially present, but flew in shortly after my arrival.

The Osprey above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

It was about this time that the weeds on the side of the roadway were being mowed along the entire length of Wildlife Drive.

The dust kicked up and slowly working its way across the water toward the birds I was photographing was less of a concern than stones thrown that might do some damage.

The Great Egret with Reddish Egret above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

At one point along the drive, it was evident the groundskeeper had found a Mourning Dove carcass which had its feathers scattered over a large area where the prey had met its doom.

As I made my way through the refuge, a stop at WC4 near the north access to Indigo Trail offered a sighting of a juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron on a sign post.

The Great Egret above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

A fellow wildlife photographer had approached me to ask if the bird seen was a Limpkin which I was sure there was no chance of at all based on my observations of the species in the past although the Limpkin has been sighted as a rarity at Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge.

In this same area I would observe a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker for the first time.

The scene above above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

While savoring my new sighting, fellow visitors to the refuge stopped to see what had interested me.

My initial reason for stopping at this point along the drive was the sighting of a Red-shouldered Hawk which was followed by Pileated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, Palm Warbler, Gray Catbird, and then the sought after Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

The Great Blue Heron above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

The Pileated Woodpecker, cardinal, and Gray Catbirds were observed to eat berries in the trees.

As Ovenbirds advanced ahead of me along Wildlife Drive, I chose to make my first stop at Shell Mound Trail.

The Red-shouldered Hawk above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

I encountered a number of "Rovers," or volunteers at the refuge that engage visitors of Ding Darling very well.

The first of whom approached me to tell me that the identification of birds is left to "these guys" as she held the eastern edition of Sibley's Guide to Birds.

The Pileated Woodpecker above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

Shell Mound regrettably can't be seen clearly due to the overgrown mangroves and other trees on and around it.

I met Rovers Ann and Bill Wollslager whom between them have over 7500 volunteer hours at Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge while on the 1/3 mile Shell Mound Trail.

The Palm Warbler above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

I was settled down for IBB, or itty bitty bird action, which I first heard coined by Paul E. Allen at Eagle Lakes Regional Park in nearby Naples.

Gumbo Limbo trees that are very evident in this area of the refuge are most appreciated for their form.

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

Ann had told me of Ed Combs' approach towards us along the boardwalk speaking very highly of his skills.

Ed had made his expertise of wildlife observation known without question telling me of birds present deeper in the woods that I had not seen nor heard.

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

While speaking with him briefly, he identified a White-eyed Vireo above us that I would have great difficulty in identifying with my limited experience and inability to photograph the subject directly overhead.

Ed had informed me that my sighting of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was the first documented at the refuge for the fall 2010 season and also told me that he had acquired his interest in birding at the age of five.

The Gray Catbird above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

I was amazed that he was able to identify the sapsucker as a 1st year female from my display on the camera.

In attempting to confirm the names of all the great Rovers I had met on my second visit of the week, it was a surprise coincidence to have Karen, working the visitor center, claim Ed as her husband.

The Tricolored Heron above was photographed at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in October 2010.

Ding Darling Days 2010 will unquestionably be enjoyed by all of its participants with visitors to the refuge doing the same in the future.

3 comments:

  1. Here is the weather forecast from GFS,


    weather GFS

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, that's an incredible collection of photos! The Reddish Egret is beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm headed out there Saturday morning, hope I get as lucky. No spoons near the mangroves?

    ReplyDelete