Monday, August 10, 2015

Sanibel Island

On 25 March, Erika and I finally arrived at our destination—Sanibel Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. This visit, which lasted until 1 April, was our second to the island. We visited here in January 2010. We saw many fewer birds during our 2015 trip and many, many more people.

We had a good time, however, since Sanibel is renown for the diversity of shells. On our previous trip, I was not chasing dragonflies. And we were on a quest to find a Gray Kingbird—January was too early for this lifer, and the end of March, for that matter, was marginal. Using the BirdsEye phone app, we discovered a Gray Kingbird had been seen two days earlier at the Bailey Tract, an outlying parcel of the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Refuge personnel directed us to the tract.

We made at least four visits to the Bailey Tract, a large parcel of undeveloped land containing several freshwater holding ponds—perfect habitat for dragonflies, if not kingbirds. On our first visit, we encountered a refuge ranger, who told us a Gray Kingbird was seen just down the path about 30 minutes ago. Way in the distance, we took the greatly enlarged photograph below—a Gray Kingbird candidate. The bird really did not look right—the bill is not thick enough—perhaps a Northern Mockingbird. But the bird did not seem contrasty enough for a mockingbird, although the silhouette seemed correct. Despite our great efforts, we never did see anything else at Bailey to call a kingbird. As you will learn, later, in the northern Florida Keys, we did add Gray Kingbirds to our list. At Sanibel, we were content to discover new dragonflies for our list. And we did see birds, as you will see in the next bog posts.

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