The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is named after a Michigan born cartoonist who was instrumental in getting the 8,000 acres of land protected under President Truman by blocking the sale of land to Sanibel developers.
I began the day wandering through a road traveled by car, bike and foot within the refuge and ended it on a pontoon sunset cruise. Both excursions were ideal for birders but the sunset cruise was unbelievable. The cruise heads out over Tarpon Bay to the rookery islands which are essentially mangroves that have taken root in shallow waters. As the sun sets, egrets, herons, ibis, cormorants, and pelicans flock to the tiny islands to roost for the evening. It’s quite a site! Two sets of dolphins played in the water near the boat much to our viewing pleasure.