The Wonders of Ding Darling N.W.R.

Birdwatching at Ding Darling Another unusual aspect of this vacation is the fact that watching wildlife and identifying new species was not our primary objective. But we still set aside some time for it, and the trails of the J. W. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge proved to be an excellent place to see a diversity of wildlife. As usual the little brown anole lizards were everywhere, but there was also plenty of seabirds to catch our attention. Memorable sightings included yellow-crowned night herons, roseate spoonbills, white pelicans, reddish egrets, mottled ducks, a family of raccoons, crabs, insects, and a mangrove salt marsh snake.

The helpful 45x scope  The Cuban Brown Anole is quick to flee from danger Osprey

We enjoyed our time together! There wasn’t much that escaped our ten pairs of watchful eyes and James’ camera was quick to capture the marvels we met with.

Follow the regulations! :) Such a beautiful place! White pelicans, brown pelicans, and cormorants Sandpiper Little Blue Heron Reddish Egret We were thankful for the well kept trails and boardwalks An immature Little Blue Heron The amazing mangroves Coon Mangrove salt marsh snake (also called Mangrove water snake: Nerodia clarkii compressicauda) Butterfly - not sure what kind... yet :)


  1. Sharon December 26, 2009 at 10:37 pm #

    These are some awesome pictures, James! I was laughing so hard about that picture of Robert and Jonathan following the rules on the sign. Now that was funny. 🙂 God bless you guys on your trip!

  2. Casey December 27, 2009 at 7:46 am #

    What wonderful pictures! I’m a relative of the Bates’ Family and they were gushing over your photography and led me to your website to check it out. I love your site and how the whole family contributes. Great idea!

    What an amazing wildlife refuge!

  3. Chad December 27, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

    Oh wow! Sounds like you guys are having fun!

  4. Barbara December 28, 2009 at 9:52 am #

    Okay, so while we struggle to get out of our driveway with six inches of snow plus drifts, all you all are enjoying the beach… that’s really funny.

  5. Michael December 28, 2009 at 11:56 am #

    That snake didn’t match any of the visuals for the “mangrove salt marsh snake” in the field guides, so I didn’t recognize it at first, and thought it was a “Florida green water snake”, which has a reddish-colored variant in southern Florida. Looking into it later, we found out that the mangrove snake comes in many colors and is quite common on the island, while the Florida green has not been identified here for over 40 years. The sure way to distinguish them is that the Florida green has tiny scales between the eye and the upper lip scales. Unfortunately I didn’t know that and didn’t look for them when I had the snake in my hand! Bummer. Today I saw some pictures of the mangrove salt marsh snake in a book at a visitor’s center which matched this snake perfectly. So I think I’m satisfied with our identification. After all, there was nothing but salt water around, which I doubt the Florida green would tolerate.

  6. Joshua December 28, 2009 at 5:14 pm #

    Stunning photos – these are a motivation to spend some time outdoors. Kenan mentioned just the otherday his desire to do some bird watching this spring. Nice identification there Michael!

    Robert & Jonathan…..well, what can I say 🙂

  7. Matthew December 28, 2009 at 5:21 pm #

    Oh the wonders of God’s creation – even our means of locomotion. Excellent shots; looks like Florida enjoys some awesome avian and reptillian species.

  8. Crystal December 31, 2009 at 9:26 am #

    That was nice of y’all to wipe the snow off your shoes before entering the building. Whoever put that sign up must have a great sense of humor. Or was greatly challenged in the area of spelling and really meant to write “sand” 🙂

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