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2012 San-Cap Nature Calendar highlights fantastic photography

By Staff | May 4, 2011

The front cover of the 2012 edition of the Sanibel-Captiva Nature Calendar features the image of a pair of yellow-crowned night herons, captured by photographer Gordon Paltza.

The current calendar may only read May, but for islanders who enjoy stunning, detailed and colorful closeup images of our favorite finned and feathered neighbors, next year can’t get here fast enough.

Released last week to local retailers, the 2012 edition of the Sanibel-Captiva Nature Calendar features a spectacular front cover photograph of a pair of yellow-crowned night herons, captured by photographer Gordon Paltza. On the back cover is a glorious golden sunrise over the refuge, taken by longtime calendar contributor Cliff Beittel.

“We tend to shy away from using professional photographers,” said Jim Fowler, publisher of the Sanibel-Captiva Nature Calendar. “The people we tend to choose are nature buffs first and photographers second.”

In addition to Paltza and Beittel (who also submitted the March and April images), the 2012 edition features photographic contributions from Theresa Baldwin (January), Bob Lindholm (February), Cheryl Molennor (May and September), Lorraine Sommer (June), Jeffrey M. Smith (July and November), Charlie Heidecker (August and October) and Len Messineo. Each photograph is accompanied by complete subject information including full descriptions, nesting, breeding and feeding habits, range, habitat, status and health.

According to Fowler, a number of professional and amateur photographers from around the world have contributed some of the greatest examples of breath-taking animal, bird and marine photography to the calendar, which has become somewhat of a collectors’ item since it contains such eye-popping images and interesting facts about local wildlife.

Photographer Jeffrey M. Smith's image of a roseate spoonbill, photographed at the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, appears in July.

One of the most visited spots on the islands, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, is featured in five different months, while additional locations include Bowman’s Beach, Blind Pass, the Sanibel River and the Little Estero Lagoon on Estero Island.

First published in 1988, this is the 24th edition of the best-selling calendar. Sold only in Southwest Florida, it continues to set the standard for other calendar publishers, here and abroad.

“Being a Sanibel-Captiva calendar, we kind of set an example of how to do things greener,” Fowler said. “Other calendars are shrink-wrapped, have a cardboard insert or use bubble covers. We think that stuff is wasteful. And, after 24 successful years, we’ve proved those things aren’t needed.”

Because the calendar is an environmentally-conscious publication, a portion of the proceeds is donated annually to an environmental group headquartered in Southwest Florida. Since 1989, more than $16,000 has been donated to state conservation organizations.

Previous donation recipients have included the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society ($1,000 in 2009, $1,000 in 1999, $1,000 in 1995 and $538 in 1991), C.R.O.W. ($1,000 in 2004, $600 in 2001 and $400 in 1990), Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation ($1,000 in 2006, $500 in 2000 and $1,000 in 1994), Calusa Nature Center ($650 in 2002 and $500 in 1996), Sanibel-Captiva Audubon ($700 in 2003 and $484 in 1992) and Save The Manatee Club ($700 in 2008 and $500 in 1997).

August's image features a stunning closeup of an American alligator, taken by photographer Charlie Heidecker at the J.N. "Ding" Darling NWR.

Last October, $800 was donated to Turtle Time, Inc., the inaugural donation to the Fort Myers Beach-based organization.

“It continues to be my goal every year to publish a calendar that not only is beautiful and useful, but also promotes wildlife conservation through interest, information and education,” added Fowler.

Again this year, the calendar will be available — upon request — delivered by mail order with a shipping envelope made from garbage.

“We saved the make-ready sheets from the press set-up and created custom-fit mailing envelopes,” he explained. “This paper is usually sent through the printing press once then on to the landfill. Now this paper will be used a second time as envelopes, thereby further reducing waste.”

The calendar retails for $13.95 and is sold throughout Southwest Florida in book stores, gift shops and other retailers. Mail orders send $13.95 (plus $2 shipping and handling) to: Sanibel-Captiva Nature Calendar, P.O. Box 356, Sanibel Island, FL 33957. For the custom-printed Blind Pass Tide edition (available this fall), send $16.95 (plus $2 shipping and handling) to the above address.

Photographed on the Gulf beach at Blind Pass, Heidecker captured a great blue heron catching a meal.

While Fowler has yet to hear any feedback from islanders regarding this year’s edition, he was told that Paltza was very pleased with the way his cover image came out.

“Hopefully, everybody will like it,” he added.

For additional information, visit www.sancapcalendar.com or call 859-846-4528.

“It is the best calendar in the world, and probably the best calendar that ever was,” boasted Fowler. “It is the only calendar that truly represents what Sanibel and Captiva are all about — nature!”