Thursday, February 5, 2015

Sanibel, Florida

We certainly wanted to see this island again before leaving this area next week, if nothing else but to visit a beach there, as well as the National Wildlife Refuge.  We also learned in the newspaper that the resort of Sanibel Moorings has a botanical gardens.  That was our first stop of the day.
The above picture, taken on the canal side of the resort, maybe gives you an idea of the natural beauty of this place.  We first needed to stop at the office to get a parking pass, then we were free to roam the gardens.  The resort was built in 1974.  The first gardener had traveled extensively and had an interest in tropical plants.  Over the last 40 years every subsequent gardener has left their own special contribution to this beautiful beach-side resort which has, as the resort's advertisement says,  "6 acres of magic".
The hibiscus garden featured many hybrid types of plants, pictured above is the Black Dragon.  There are also many trees around the resort, many of which we have already seen in this part of Florida, as the Lignum vitae,Shaving Brush, Gumbo Limbo-and a new one to us, the Triangle Palm from Madagascar.
We discovered in the past that parking for the public beaches on Sanibel Island can be a bit expensive, as well as difficult to find.  We decided to stay where we were at the resort and instead check out the beach there.  In the picture below someone decided to make good use of the sand and plentiful shells
 In the past we have not seen the abundance of shells which we saw Wednesday on the beach.  A local told us the perhaps the recent windy weather, as well as extreme low tides and full moon has brought them up on the shore.  Unfortunately most of the shells had little critters in them.  I got a bit spooked out several times when a complete shell would close and pinch my fingers- or when a shell would start moving!  Still, there were plenty of pretty shells to collect!
John had just commented a couple of days ago that we had not seen one pink roseate spoonbill, in comparison to 4 years ago when we saw them everywhere.  At "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge they were the first birds we saw!  We also saw a mass of willets, as well as pelicans congregating in one area.
Our last stop on Sanibel was the lighthouse.  An historical sign there indicated that the first permanent English-speaking residents of the island arrived in 1833.  The lighthouse was built in 1884.

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