Friday, October 24, 2014

Sanibel Island Competes for top Spot for Birding

Those of us who love birds have long  noted not just the variety of birds on Sanibel, but the easy access and observation of our birds.

More than 245 species of birds call the island home, with the majority of them residing in and around the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

And most are very visible from safe roads and without aids.

The Roseate Spoonbill , the icon of Sanibel, stands out like cotton candy at a fair ground.  Pink and fluffy and often in clusters both in the water and up in the trees, at two feet tall the Roseate is just one of our many , many birds that requires no binoculars to spot.

And many of our birds are large, comfortable with sightseers, close enough to photograph and most entertaining in their behavior.

Walk the paths near the bayous and you will see Herons, Egrets and White Pelicans in abundance.  Walk the beach and Piping Plovers, Brown Pelicans and several different varieties of gulls will keep you company.

Our Ibis are everywhere and readily identifiable because of their special long curved beaks.

The scree of osprey, hawks and eagles will alert you to their presence allowing you to see them before you hear them.

And now, it appears that birding is ramping up to make Sanibel as desirable a destination to watch birds as it is to collect shells. Sanibel is among 20 other destinations across the country in the running to claim the title, "Best Birdwatching Destination in the USA." The public poll is being conducted by USA Today.

And though we have never done a feather to feather comparison with our competition, we are willing to bet that some of the contenders require special licenses, added equipment and birding aids in order to see the winged residents of these areas.

So we are encouraging every one we know to vote for Sanibel as the top birding destination in the country.  You only need to click here  daily to register your agreement that Sanibel is , indeed, for the birds!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The History of Shelling on Sanibel Island

There is the short history of shelling on Sanibel.  It can be summed up in the often repeated phrase that the Island ranks in the top 3 world destinations for great shelling.

For many, that is all they know and all they need to know.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. 

Walk the walk on Sanibel, the beach walk that is, and in the majority of cases; you will be greeted with a variety of sea shells.

But the nuances of the shelling history are as compelling as the experience of shelling.

How did the first inhabitants of Sanibel use shells for their subsistence? What were the events that occurred in European society that led to the interest in collecting shells? Who collected them and how did that lead to their use by mainstream society? Of the many expeditions that sailed to the New World, shells were among were among the items brought back to Europe.

The island is situated at a special place in the Gulf of Mexico - it has an east/west alignment. From the south comes a prevailing wind and strong currents that cause this eleven mile-long, 3 mile-wide island to become a scoop for seashells.

Seashells have created an economy for Sanibel's residents since the time of the Calusa Indians and are highly integrated into the culture and the economy of Sanibel. As many as 20-30,000 visitors come to Sanibel and its neighbor island Captiva each week at peak season, drawn by the desire to walk Sanibel's beaches and its shells. Nearly 15,000 seasonal visitors travel to Sanibel in escape of the cold winter weather in the northern regions, including Canada.
No matter where they come from, tourists of all ages spend their time learning about the island's history at the Sanibel Historical Museum, learning about the diverse wildlife that inhabits the island at the J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge, or the ecology of the most famous island inhabitants, mollusks, during their visit to the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. Visitors also enjoy the art of local artists in many cozy little boutiques and shops that sell wind chimes, jewelry, lamps, paperweights, decorative boxes and ornaments.
 And of course, conversations in these shops are usually centered around shelling. They provide a good stopping point between a day's activities, and a good place to catch up on island news and the tide report!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Home, home on the Golf Course: Seriously, Coyotes are roaming our Sanibel Links

Many people come to Sanibel for vacation.

Some love it so much they decide to stay.

That includes four legged as well as two legged critters.

We have had bears and other beautiful creatures not native to the our islands find their way over.

Some have had to be relocated for their own safety.

Now, among our confirmed residents on Sanibel Island, are coyotes.  No doubt, they will become permanent fixtures on the Island.

First reported in 2011, more have been sighted , particularly on our golf courses.

Coyotes expanded their range into Florida in the late 1970s. They are omnivorous, with the majority of their diet in Florida being small mammals, such as mice, rats and rabbits. However, they are opportunistic and have been known to eat everything from garbage to fruit and vegetables, dead fish and wildlife, birds, livestock, small pets and even sea turtle eggs.

They are most active near dawn and dusk and are normally extremely shy and stay clear of humans. Coyotes are not generally a threat to human safety.

Recommendations for limiting coyote interactions include:
-Store trash in a secure area until morning of pickup
-Bring pet food or any other potential food source inside
-Keep pets indoors or attended at all times
-Always keep pets, especially small dogs or cats, on a leash when walking

The Sanibel Natural Resources Department and the City's partners at the J.N. "Ding" Darling Refuge and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation have been closely monitoring the coyote population and keeping track of reports.

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation has been using metal screening to cover sea turtle nests in areas that have high coyote activity. This screening makes it difficult for coyotes to dig up nests and still allows turtle hatchlings to crawl out to the water.

Though it is unlikely you will see one of our special residents, count yourself lucky if you do!