We spent portions of three winter days exploring the refuge, and every turning brought new birding thrills. To start with, be sure to visit the visitors center in adjacent Tule Lake Wildlife Refuge, where knowledgeable rangers will steer you to birding hot spots. Then take off on the auto tour route, and be prepared to stop and jump out of your car every hundred feet with your binoculars and camera. The bald eagles alone are worth the visit. "Ubiquitous" is the only word to describe their presence in the refuge--in the trees, on the fence posts, atop the poles, and sitting in the fields. Once you start looking, you will see them everywhere. Then there are the ducks--ruddy ducks, pintail ducks, shovelers, buffleheads, goldeneyes; the list could go on and on. They can be seen in breathtaking profusion. The highlight for us was catching a twilight fly-out of thousands and thousands of snow geese from the marshes to the fields. The noise was incredible, and the sight was beyond compare. As we left that evening, we drove by a field of stubble dotted with pheasants, which were being chased by a couple of juvenile northern harrier hawks tuning up their hunting skills. And I musn't forget the coyotes that turned up in the fields regularly while we were there, or the gorgeous views in every direction, to cliffs, volcanoes, and beautiful Mt. Shasta. Oh, it is a wonderful place!
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