Thursday, November 6, 2008

Regret for an Egret Not Living on Sanibel

We did a 7 mile walk through Ding Darling this morning, and it was the best walk we have done on this vacation so far.

There are not a great number of people on the Island this week, and Ding Darling's darlings are visible in significant numbers.

On this sunny, breezy morning, we saw a small alligator of no more than 8 feet sunning, and just a few steps beyond, a grandfather gator probably measuring 15 feet in length.

There were several Anhingas on one branch drying out their large wings and in one clump of mangroves a cluster of 7 Roseate Spoonbills groomed themselves and each other looking like fluffs of cotton candy from an amusement park.

Further into the reserve we spotted an otter running into the water. The otter must have been approaching 4 feet in length and possibly over 75 pounds.

For a brief moment, and an unusual day time sight, a bobcat wandered out from a wooded swamp and and then retreated.

But one of the most amazing and amusing sights was a reddish egret cavorting on the water. Yes, on the water. The egret appeared to be on the surface, quite amazing and also amusing with his unkempt looking crown of feathers.

The reddish egret is not a frequently sighted bird in North America. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, there are only 1,500 to 2,000 nesting pairs of reddish egrets in the United States. That is not a big number, and my bet is that a good number of the pairs that do exist live in Ding Darling, safe haven that it is.

Which brought my thoughts to the other 6 species of egrets, all but one living in Florida and well represented in Ding Darling.

But the sixth of the egret species, the Chinese Egret, a beautiful, white and elegant bird, is declining rapidly in population. The prior hunting for its feathers, diminishing habitat and insensitivity of humans in encroaching on their colonies to photograph them have left the world with less then 3500 Chinese Egrets. They live primarily in Russia, North Korea, South Korea and mainland China. It is also a non-breeding visitor to Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Peninsular and eastern Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei. The Chinese Egret has only been seen in North America in the western Aleutian Islands.

It's too bad the Chinese Egret has not migrated to Sanibel Island. It would be most welcome here, as are all feathered friends, and would find a life free of molestation.


Becka said...

This post has inspired me to do my own 7 mile walk through Ding Darling. Who am I kidding....maybe a mile or 2 at least!

Samba said...

Every walk begins with a first step. Walking is its own reward, and doing it in Ding Darling is a double blessing. You get the walk AND you get to look at Ding's darlings!