Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ding Darling NWR and Bunche Beach Preserve…

Sanibel Island sunset

A nice side trip from Siesta Bay RV Resort is the J.N. Ding Darling Horseshoe CrabNational Wildlife Refuge on the subtropical barrier island of Sanibel. It is known for its display of migratory bird populations and that fact that has one of the largest undeveloped mangrove populations in the USA.

Visiting wildlife refuges is a past time I will always enjoy going back to my roots of having studied Wildlife Biology back in college. I am always curious to not only see the refuge and it flora and fauna but I am also curious to see how the refuge is being managed and maintained. While working for Texas Parks and Wildlife I was a Biologist responsible for maintaining the natural integrity of parkland ecosystems in the eastern half of the state of Texas.

Roseate Spoonbill

Mangrove CrabAs a Biologist I assisted in many events such from prescribed burning to maintain habitat for endangered species such as Attwater's Prairie Chickens to eradicating non-native species such as sika and fallow deer from the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. So when I visit parks and refuges I am looking at them from two different perspectives… and from what I can see they are doing a lot of real good things here at the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Bunche BeachAlso nearby the RV resort is a nice little park San Carlos Bay / Bunche Beach Preserve. This little gem is a mere 15 minute or so bike ride from the RV Resort. Here you are treated to a 719 acre park protecting some tidal wetlands and mangrove swamp that is more representative of the area before invasive plants and people moved in.Willets, Longbilled Dowitchers and a Marbeled Godwit

We biked over for an afternoon of fun in the sun and a little bird watching. The nice white sandy beach is inviting for a stroll along the tidal wetlands of the park. With nearby metered parking and its proximity to the city there is always a mixture of “city folk”  and retired “peeps” relaxing on the beach. As the Old Fat Man says we are just having tooooooo much fun…

NOTE: Hovering your mouse over a picture will identify what you are looking at and if you want to see a larger picture just click on the image…


  1. We are headed in the Direction the first of the year with no reservations anywhere..We do have a friend with RV hookups near Sanibel. If we cant find anything reasonable near the coast we will head inland. I love that area.
    Cant wait to walk Venice beach to find sharks teeth.

  2. Thanks for the tips on places to visit. We haven't been to this area for a long time, and are looking for some natural places that aren't so "touristy."

    We arrived in North Fort Myers yesterday and did a run over to Fort Myers Beach. Of course it was rainy, windy and getting dark, but what we saw of the beach wasn't pretty and it was way too commercial.

    We will definitely check out the places you mentioned. Keep the suggestions coming!

    You might go to Corkscrew Swamp. We loved it the last time we visited and intend to go back this trip. It's worth the $10 price tab.

  3. looks like another wonderful beach area to visit, enjoy!

  4. When I visit a NWR, I first do it as a tourist. Then, I wonder if there is something I could do there to help their mission.

  5. Wow. Small world. Once upon a time we paid a visit to the J.N. Ding Darling Refuge. What a name! Hard to forget that one.
    So happens that we DROVE to Florida for a couple weeks with another couple. (from Burlington, Ontario). Stayed at a place on Sanibel. (Methinks it was April of '98, but that part too is a little sketchy). Some of us wanted to fly and rent a car, but one person in the crowd didn't want to fly. Too nervous.
    (rolls eyes)
    It's been a few years but she's gotten over that fear. (or she'd be out of a job?)
    We still have all the seashells. Amazing place.
    Have fun!

  6. Great photos and info. Interesting to hear your background too.

  7. Catherine, Jo Beth and Grace - Spoonbills are one of our faves too...

    Dawn Fine - we have Decmeber booked but still don't know what we will do after the first and like you if we have to we will head inland\

    Karen and Al - you will like these two areas - far less touristy than North Fort Myers - what park are you staying at? will check out Corkscrew Swamp when we move south from here...

    George and Suzie Yates you said it!!!

    Judy and Emma - admirable Judy... one day when I am ready to stop the vacation mode I will convert more to your ways...

    Bob - yes the name is a mouthful...

    Janie and John - thanks for the comment... now my Biologist days were when I was right out of college later in life I got involved in the field of information technology...

  8. I hope to live in such a place once I retire too. The fresh air would be really soothing and very relaxing. Living near the beach would be very helpful for a body that is getting older and older. I hope they have this kind of amenity in 55 retirement communities because this would be amazing.