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DARLING DING DARLING NATURE REFUGE
If you are a nature lover, PARTICULARLY if you are a bird lover, you must put this wonderful sanctuary on your list!
The Ding Darling nature Refuge takes up roughly a third of Sanibel Island. We owe this refuge to a political cartoonist called Jay Norwood Ding Darling who blocked the sale of the land to developers.
He persuaded the then president of America, Harry S Truman to sign an order to create the refuge in 1945.
Ding Darling has over 6000 acres of wilderness containing mangrove forest, hardwood hammocks and cordgrass.
The migratory bird population makes this centre world renowned. Try to visit between Dec to march and low tide will give you the best chance of seeing the birds while they are feeding.
The wildlife drive is closed on fridays to give the wildlife a break and allow for essential maintenance. Cost is $5 per car and $1 for walkers and bikes.
You can choose from 3 trails (or better still, make time for all 3!
SHELL MOUNT TRAIL a boardwalk to study the vegetation (quarter of a mile).
INDIGO TRAIL from the education centre to the cross dike(4 miles) here you could see Ibis, Night Heron and guess what. . . . . alligators.
The Bailey Tract is where you can see freshwater plants in an interior wetland.
A dyke was built through the estuary in the sixties in order to keep the mosquito population down; however, this compromised the habitat and today the water flows naturally. Nowadays, a plane flies over to spray the island with mosquito deterrant; seems successful against every thing except those pesky no-see-ums!
At Ding Darling you can boat, kayak and also fish for trout, snook and sheepshead.
There are guided tours run as a concession at extra cost and they would suit some people better than doing it themselves. Me, I prefer to wander at will.
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