Free Birding, Biking Tours, Paddleboarding Clinic New to ‘Ding’ Darling Day

provided to Santiva Chronicle

As the 75th anniversary celebration at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge kicks in, staff has planned a “Ding” Darling Day for Sunday, Oct. 20, that will concentrate all the best traditions of the eco-festival into one day of family and conservation art activities, tours, and programs.

The schedule will include a number of new free features for 2019’s 31st annual event:

• The day starts early this year with hourly birding, hiking, and biking tours from 8 to 11 a.m.
• A Spanish-speaking guide will lead the 10 a.m. Nature Hike on Indigo Trail.
• In addition to live wildlife presentations under the main tent, the refuge has invited Burmese python hunting and science experts to talk about the havoc the species is wreaking on the Everglades. (There will be no live snakes at this presentation in the Visitor & Education Center Auditorium.)
• Tarpon Bay Explorers, the refuge’s recreation concession, will be conducting free stand-up paddleboarding clinics from 9 a.m. to noon at Tarpon Bay Recreation Area.
• Touch tank presentations at Tarpon Bay Explorers are back. Because of on-site construction the past two years, this popular activity had been curtailed.
• Programs previously held on Saturday Conservation Art Day will be folded into Sunday’s calendar. This year’s Federal and State Duck Stamp Winners will be presenting that day and signing duck stamps.
• New interactive programs include wildlife origami, chalk drawing, canvas painting, nature sketching, and an iPhone photography walk.

Refuge officials estimate the value of free activities on “Ding” Day at $75 for a family of four.

Tarpon Bay Explorers (www.tarponbayexplorers) offers all-day discounts on kayak tours and boating excursions throughout the day. Reservations for tours are recommended. For a full calendar of day’s activities, visit or call 239-472-1100 for more information.

“Ding” Darling Day celebrates the birthday of the refuge’s namesake, father of the Federal Duck Stamp program and Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist, Jay N. “Ding” Darling.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS), and Tarpon Bay Explorers cosponsor “Ding” Darling Day with generous support from the local community and businesses.

Sponsors for the 2019 event include: ROSEATE SPOONBILL SPONSORS: Doc’s Ford Sanibel Rum Bar & Grille; GREAT EGRET SPONSORS: Mitchell’s Sand Castles, Feather Jim & Patty Sprankle; GREAT BLUE HERON SPONSORS: Bailey’s General Store, Mike & Terry Baldwin, Bank of the Islands, Casa Ybel Resort, The Cedar Chest Fine Jewelry, Island Sun/River Weekly, Just Water, Matzaluna The Italian Kitchen, Rotary Club of Sanibel-Captiva, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club, Sanibel Moorings, Sunny Day Guide; REDDISH EGRET SPONSORS: Sarah Ashton – Realtor, RE/MAX of the Islands, The Gresham Family, Island Inn, Jensen’s on the Gulf and Marina & Cottages, Tiffani Kaliko and John Silvia, Dick & Emily Muench, Palm Printing, Stewart & Sons Insurance; SNOWY EGRET SPONSORS: Ambu Yoga, Big Red Q Quickprint, Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership, John Brennan, Colony Inn, Kevin & Diane Husk, Island Therapy Center, Panther Printing, Santiva Chronicle, George & Wendy Schnapp, Winston & Gretchen Spurgeon, Nancy Tome.

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