Walking through Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge


Still on the west coast of Florida with my son and his family.

We took our older granddaughter to J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. This is a birding paradise with a couple of short trails and a 8-mile driving tour. We walked the Indigo Trail for two miles and the road back for another two.

Darlingrefuge-anhinga It was hot and humid but the birds were amazing. Anhingas were preening themselves on trees above large pools. Lakes attracted large numbers of pelicans, wood storks, egrets and herons. At one point, a whole group of horseshoe crabs had congregated, almost in military formation.Darlingrefuge-horseshoecrabs

Then at the education center, we saw that children could get a badge for an activity at the Refuge. “Is there any recognition for a child who walked 4 miles and can tell you about the birds she saw?” I asked.

The volunteer explained that she could ride in a car and scan the stations along the way with a  GPS that they were willing to lend you. Or she could do a worksheet indoors in the education center. Both would get her a badge –  their version of a Junior Ranger badge. But for a child to actually walk several miles, that didn’t get her any recognition from the Refuge officials.

They obviously have not heard of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program. And they certainly were not encouraging moving or walking. I was more outraged than Hannah, my granddaughter, was. She just had a good day with us.   

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