Merced-San Luis Refuge System

December 17, 2019 at 6:50 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Wildlife)

Snow geese coming in for the night

I had a few hours over the weekend of Dec. 7-8 and visited the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge complex, starting with the San Joaquin River NWR. Wasn’t able to get close to the noisy flocks of geese to see the Aleutian Cackling Geese, as the roads are off-limits.

San Joaquin River NWR

So I went to the San Luis NWR – the light was amazing but didn’t get as close to the birds as I had hoped.

San Luis NWR, late afternoon

I did see a pair of juvenile tundra swans.

Tundra swan juvenile

I got to the Merced NWR just as the sun tinted the dramatic cumulus clouds building over the distant Sierras. Really really really wanted the sandhill cranes silhouetted against them, but they came in long after the color had drained from the sky. I did get some snow geese, though.

A clear night

The next morning was foggy and drizzly. Which is what the weather usually is when I visit. I always choose the wrong time.

Sandhill cranes

The sandhill cranes had mostly left before dawn, and this small flock didn’t linger too long either. Not sure which fields they went to for grazing, but I didn’t have time to go look for them either.

Sandhill Cranes

I drove around the auto tour road about three times, each time seeing something different.

Northern harrier
White pelicans

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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