Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer in Sanibel, Day Two

Or, should it be Summer "on" Sanibel?

Sunday, August 1, 2010. Day Two on Sanibel Island. After a hearty breakfast of leftover steak and potatoes, I arrived at the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge shortly before 8:00. I asked the booth attendant what I might expect to see, compared to December, when I normally am on the island. “Fewer birds, not as many spoonbills”

Seems like a good representation to me, and this is from Wildlife Drive. I was on the water at 8:15. Paddled east, in a narrow , mangrove lined channel along side Wildlife Drive. Towards a spot where I often see spoonbills. On the way, I saw air bubbles on the surface. I paused, a manatee lifted its head out of the water. I did not see it again. I’d been out for 20 minutes and all I had to show for it was a report of a manatee and a blue heron. But then, I came to a spot where the channel gets wide, one of several, but this location is a rosette spoonbill hang out.

I hung with them

Got a lot of photos in 3 minutes.

Moved on to another spot where I’ve seen spoonbills before. Just past a fishing overlook. No spoonbill(s). Spoonbill. This was my turnaround point. The spoonbill search was just pleasant diversion on the morning’s main goal. Paddling to Blind Pass, the channel separating Sanibel Island from Captiva Island.

Back to, and past the launch site. 50 yards or so the channel opens into an open area, lake like. Paddle across, through a gap and enter Pine Island Sound. Past the power lines crossing the Sound, inside most of the Wulfert Keys. I paddled around the nearest key. The area between the keys and Sanibel is a pole/troll zone. No combustion motors. To protect seagrass beds
Seagrass beds are the nursery of the sea. The ban is working. I saw rays, a blue crab, and lots of leaping fish. I’m not an angler, so my ID skills aren’t that good, but these weren’t the usual mullet. My best guess is sea trout. Maybe redfish too. With all the fish, prey. A shark Ten minutes later, as school of small sharks, circling. The fish, not me. Had they been bigger it would have been a bit scary. Could not get a pic, but, the disturbed water is where they were. I came to the channel between Sanibel and Captiva. I’ve been here before, but never made it to the Gulf side. For years, the pass was blocked , but a few years ago it was re-dredged. But, when I say I had never made it, I’ve never even seen the Sanibel-Captiva Road bridge spanning the pass.
Didn’t see it today either. But, I think I know where I went wrong.The channel markers ended. The area in the middle was to low to navigate. I continued the way the markers were going. For 30 minutes or so until it dead ended. Only then did I pull out a map and compass. I had to be in Dinken Bayou. Or, Dinkin Bay in Randy Wayne White’s, Doc Ford novels. Back out, I saw I should have stayed on the far right hand side of the channel. I think. Hopefully I can test that theory in December. Oyster catcher. I see a submarine. Osprey poised for flight.
Tricolored heron and ibis in the mangroves.
I was searching for a place to land. Needed a break as the it reached 93 degrees. Thankfully, the sun was behind clouds for most of the paddle or it really would have been hot. I found a spot where I could stand, fill the water bottle, and enjoy a steak and cheese sandwich as 1 to 2 inch fish darted about the oyster shells. Another osprey. There were several. I landed about 12:40. I had not seen any paddlers, until I landed. A couple was on their way out. They asked for suggestions on where to go. I told them how to get to the open water. “Our first time” After they left, I looked at their truck. Florida plate, with a Packer frame. Another Packer kayaker.
Time for a bike ride. Road bike today. As Wildlife Drive is getting beat up, a mountain bike might be a better option. On the other hand, I was glad to be pedaling my Trek 1000. Less effort required than the Kona Caldera. Sports car vs. FWD pickup. Each useful in its own sphere. Fellow Ding visitors, refresh my memory. Wildlife Drive used to be like Black Point Wildlife Drive on Merritt Island, crushed gravel, until it was paved 10 or so years ago. Right? Or is my memory failing me again. The kayak launch is just short of the 3 mile point of the 4 mile, one way, Wildlife Drive. I was soon on the smooth bike path heading back to the Refuge entrance. Back at the entrance I visited the Visitor’s Center. The air conditioned Visitor’s Center. Worth a visit. Lots of good info on the wildlife in the Refuge and it’s namesake, a 1930‘s editorial cartoonist who designed the "Blue Goose" logo seen at all U.S. Wildlife Refuges. From the Center, I kept as cool as I could by walking a shaded boardwalk to the entrance station. Showed my receipt to the attendant ($5 for cars, One for hikers and bikers) Solitary spoonbills on either side of the road.
Another single spoonbill down the road. I decided I had enough spoonbill pics for one day.
Herons and egrets from the Red Mangrove Overlook. Snowy egret off the Cross Dike Trail. I always look for alligators here, ever since seeing some with cousin Ty and nephew Arlo. None today. I climbed the nearby observation tower, distant birds, nothing Yak Tale worthy. Egrets and a woodstork to complete the ride.
Back to my lodgings at the Parrot Nest. Not only do I have a kitchen, there is nice back patio. Not that I spent any time there in the heat.
The lizard was doing the blow out the skin on the lower jaw thing. Lizard chicks dig it. I could not get a photo of it. The Parrot Nest also has a grill area, a big brick grill and two Webers, a 3 hole mini golf course, coin laundry, plenty of paperbacks to borrow, beach chairs. Very homey. Nice touches, making up, a bit, for no pool and a couple block walk to the beach. But, I can’t find a less expensive spot on Sanibel. Went to McT’s for dinner. Sat at the bar. There is a bar menu and a restaurant menu. I was given both. Ordered conch chowder and a cocktail, and perused the menus. Asked my bartender why some items were less on the bar menu. No reason, and they were the same thing. I had the deluxe seafood pasta. $24 in the restauant, 21 at the bar. Shrimp, scallops, lobster, and veggies, yellow squash cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, brocoli’ over pasta. Choice of linguini or penne. Picked penne, less messy. And a salad. Ample portion. Brought about half back to the Parrot Nest. Plan to combine it with the last of the steak and have a late night snack. Maybe bring the last of it home in a small Kakunka Cheese container I brought coffee in. I could have it for breakfast, but what about the Lighthouse Cafe? So much food, so little time. In order to burn a few of those calories, I went for a walk. Went behind the Lighthouse Cafe and Sporty Seahorse to see if I could. I could. Most direct way to the water access, bay side, on Buttonwood Lane. If I decide to paddle there tomorrow. As of now, I’m thinking Ding Darling. My walking plan was to go to the Shell Island Beach Club, and enter the Gulf beach from there. But, I saw a boardwalk at the other end of Buttonwood, so decided to check it out. This trip is about finding new things. The Buttonwood beach access seems to be a shorter walk than the East Gulf Drive walk I did Saturday. Bashful osprey on the way.

The picturesque lighthouse. Here’s another difference in August as opposed to December.

The sun setting behind Shell Island Beach Club. Don’t get this view in December. Or is my memory that bad? Pat, Eileen, feel free to chime in.
No dolphins this beach walk. But, two tiny birds, scurrying along. They found mom, who escorted them to the nest.
Watch your step when walking the beach. I walked off the beach, and all the way to the bay side. Ten minute leisurely walk from the birds on the Gulf to the sunset over San Carlos Bay.


Monica said...

Your description was almost like being there! And what a lot of Spoonbills. Wow.

Dave said...

Monica, even more spoonbills to come when I post Monday's Tale.

Tootie said...

Thanks for sharing your day. Seeing the kayak journey through your eyes, is as close as I'll probably get. That's something I've never tried and doubt I could handle it.

The Buttonwood access is where we begin our turtle walk on Thursday mornings, only we go in the other direction. The walk you took is my favorite on the east end.

Have a wonderful stay. :)

iLoveShelling said...

Too bad you didn't get to see those spoonbills... heehee. I've never kayaked through there either- I might want to try it now- thanks!

Mike said...

Beautiful photos - especially the sunsets! Don't know how you manage to "get in" so many paddling adventures a week! I know my household budget would not allow me to kayak nearly every day... got to work so I can bring home the "change"... so I'm mostly a "weekend warrior" kind of paddler! ;-) But I'm thankful for the water opportunities I do get!

Dave said...

Tootie, I actually walked away from the lighthouse Saturday, ay dusk, from the Colony boardwalk. Kayaking isn't hard, you should try it
Iloveshelling- You won't see shells at the Refuge, but I'm sure you know that.
Mike, I'm a yaking bachleor, so no responinility, other than work, to keep me off the water.
Thanks to all for you interest