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Birding, biking tours and paddleboarding new to ‘Ding’ Darling Day

By Staff | Sep 4, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Tarpon Bay Explorers will offer free morning stand-up paddleboarding clinics and discounted tours throughout the day.

As the 75th anniversary celebration at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel kicks in, staff has planned a “Ding” Darling Day for 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 the 31st annual event:

n The day starts early this year with hourly birding, hiking and biking tours from 8 to 11 a.m.

n A Spanish-speaking guide will lead the 10 a.m. Nature Hike on Indigo Trail.

n 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 the presentation in the Visitor & Education Center Auditorium.

PHOTO PROVIDED Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille is once again sponsoring “Ding” Darling Day at the Roseate Spoonbill level.

n Tarpon Bay Explorers, the refuge’s recreation concession, will conduct free stand-up paddleboarding clinics from 9 a.m. to noon at the Tarpon Bay Recreation Area.

n Touch tank presentations at the Tarpon Bay Explorers are back. Because of on-site construction the past two years, the popular activity had been curtailed.

n Programs previously held on Saturday’s Conservation Art Day will be folded into Sunday’s calendar; this year’s Federal and State Duck Stamp Winners will present that day and sign duck stamps.

n 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 at $75 for a family of four.

For more information or the day’s schedule, visit dingdarlingdays.com or call 239-472-1100.

Also, TBE will offer discounts on kayak tours and boating excursions throughout the day. Reservations for the tours are recommended. For reservations or more information, visit www.tarponbayexplorers.

“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 and Wildlife Service, “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge and TBE cosponsor “Ding” Darling Day with generous support from the local community and businesses.