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Snow geese at Merced National Wildlife Preserve - photo Skip Bullock

Yosemite Audubon Field Trip To Merced Nat’l Wildlife Refuge

Written by Scarlett Bullock –

MARIPOSA – The public is invited to attend a field trip to the Merced National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), hosted by the Yosemite Area Audubon Society, on Saturday, Feb. 9 (postponed from Feb. 2 due to weather).

The trip will include viewing thousands of visiting waterfowl, shorebirds, sandhill cranes, Ross/snow geese, hawks, owls and a multitude of other birds.

The Merced NWR hosts the largest wintering concentration of lesser sandhill cranes and Ross geese in the Pacific Flyway with as many as 20,000 cranes and 60,000 geese using the refuge each year.

In addition, the refuge also provides important breeding habitats for hawks, tricolored blackbirds, marsh wrens, mallards, gadwalls, cinnamon teals, shovelers and burrowing owls.

The Merced NWR encompasses 10,258 acres of wetlands, grasslands, vernal pools and riparian areas. It was established in 1951 under the Lea Act to attract wintering waterfowl from adjacent farmland where their foraging activities were causing crop damage.

The NWR has turned into a favorite location for both birds and birders from around the Valley and the foothills.

Field trip participants will also take a tour of the Bowles Farming Co. to learn about their environmentally-friendly farming techniques and habitat management plans.

Those interested in this outing are invited to meet at the Mariposa Park & Ride at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9, to carpool. Bring binoculars, lunch, spotting scopes and wear comfortable walking shoes.

To learn more about this field trip or about the Yosemite Area Audubon Society, contact Scarlett Bullock at 559-676-7387 or visit the yaas.clubexpress.com website.

(Photo credit: Skip Bullock)

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