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The wildlife in Florida is fantastic, and it's everywhere, not just in the major wildlife reserves.  From the house, you will see herons, osprey, wood storks and egrets (and perhaps the odd frog, snake & maybe even a small alligator occasionally in the lake!).  And just 5 minutes away is Lakes Park, a lovely wild place with good walking and biking trails. 

Here's a selection of the wildlife seen recently by us and our guests (you know who you are - thanks to you for your photos!):
  • Chokoloskee island boat trip dolphin
  • Roseate spoonbill in flight
  • Anole Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
  • Barred owl at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
  • Anhinga at Lakes Park
  • Monarch Butterfly at Calusa Nature Center 1
  • Anhinga male with his catch at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
  • Huge alligator at Shark Valley Everglades
  • Bald Eagle at Lovers Key
  • Cuban anole at Ding Darling parking area Sanibel
  • Bunche Beach sunset Black skimmers
  • Frog in Colonial Pointe
  • Great blue heron Turner Beach Sanibel
  • Great white egret Great Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
  • Large ray in the sea at Lovers Key
  • Racoon Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Ibis colony Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
  • Racoon meets alligator Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
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  • Little blue heron fluffing its feathers at Six Mile Cypress Swamp Preserve
  • Monarch Butterfly at Calusa Nature Center
  • Red shouldered hawk at Ding Darling National Wildife Refuge on Sanibel
  • Osprey at Lighthouse Beach
  • Pileated woodpecker Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
  • Purple gallinule at Shark Valley
  • Snowy egret at Venice
  • White tailed deer Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
  • Royal terns on  the southern end of south Fort Myers Beach
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  • Woodstork at Colonial Pointe
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  • Roseate spoonbill in flight
  • Yellow cronwed night heron in Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Pelican on Lighthouse Pier Sanibel
  • Anhinga at Lakes Park
  • Anhinga male with his catch at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
  • Anole Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
  • Back crowned night heron Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
  • Bald Eagle at Lovers Key
  • Monarch Butterfly at Calusa Nature Center 1
  • Barred owl at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
  • Bunche Beach sunset Black skimmers
  • Coot at Colonial Pointe
  • Cuban anole at Ding Darling parking area Sanibel
  • Dragon fly maybe Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
  • Frog in Colonial Pointe
  • Great blue heron at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
  • Huge alligator at Shark Valley Everglades
  • Great blue heron at Shark Valley in the Everglades
  • Great blue heron Turner Beach Sanibel
  • Great crested fly catcher
  • Great white egret Great Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
  • Ibis and a great white egret Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Preserve
  • Ibis at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
  • Ibis colony Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
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  • Large ray in the sea at Lovers Key
  • Little blue heron at Six Mile Cypress Swamp Preserve
  • Little blue heron fluffing its feathers at Six Mile Cypress Swamp Preserve
  • Little blue heron Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
  • Little green heron
  • Loggerhead shrike in Lakes Park
  • Monarch Butterfly at Calusa Nature Center
  • Mourning dove Lovers Key
  • Northen cardinal female at Lovers Key
  • Osprey at Bowditch Point Fort Myers Beach
  • Osprey at Lighthouse Beach
  • Pelican at St Pete's Pier
  • Peregrine falcon adn its willet prey on Lovers Key beach
  • Pileated woodpecker Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
  • Purple gallinule at Shark Valley
  • Racoon Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Racoon meets alligator Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
  • Red bellied woodpecker female in Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
  • Red shouldered hawk 2 at Six Mile Cypress preserve
  • Red shouldered hawk at Ding Darling National Wildife Refuge on Sanibel
  • Red shouldered hawk at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
  • Red shouldered hawk
  • Reddish egret adn double crested cormorants at Lovers Key
  • Roseate spoonbills at Ding Darling 2
  • Roseate Spoonbills Ding Darling Reserve
  • Royal terns on  the southern end of south Fort Myers Beach
  • Sanderlings on Bunche Beach
  • Sandpiper on Bowmans Beach Sanibel
  • Six Mile Cypress preserve cotton
  • Snowy egret at Venice
  • Snowy egrets stealing fish Lihgthouse Beach Sanibel
  • Woodstork at Colonial Pointe
  • Squirrel Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
  • Turtle at Corkscrew
  • White Ibis at Lovers Key
  • White Pelicans and cormorants Ding Darling
  • White tailed deer Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
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  • Woodstork at Lakes Park
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Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is only about 15 minutes from the house, and is a great wild place to see alligators & birdlife.  It's one of our favourite places, and has a new visitor centre. 

There are places further afield that are well worth a visit too.  Choose from the Everglades, Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve on Sanibel, Corkscrew Swamp Preserve down by Naples, or maybe Lake Trafford near Imokalee.  The Everglades and Lake Trafford have airboats, as well as more alligators than you can imagine.  Ding Darling has a tramcar (not expensive, and well worth it for first time visitors) or you can drive or bike.  Corkscrew is a boardwalk.  And Shark Valley in the Everglades has a tram tour which we very much enjoy.  Alternatively you can bike the Shark Valley loop, but be aware that there are lots of alligators!

Dolphins sometimes play in the surf on the beaches.  It can happen anywhere, but Sanibel's Lighthouse beach is particularly good - spend an hour there at the tip of the island, and you're almost guaranteed to see them.  And if you go on a boat trip, they will often play in the wake.

If you're there in the winter, the amazing manatees come into the warm waters of the Caloosahatchee River (near the FPL power plant).  Manatee Park is a good viewing place, just across the road from the power station - they love the warm water of the outflow pipes.  In the warmer months, they are in the Gulf waters, and you may be lucky enough to see them from a boat trip, or you can see them in the inland parts of the Lovers Key park like we did in November last year.  Here's what happened to some lucky guests one November a few years ago: "... one of the highlights was being bumped by a manatee in our canoe at Lovers Key , I think we'll always remember that"