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Free guided tours at Lower Klamath Refuge are planned for March 15

by Lee Juillerat, Herald and News 3/8/08

   We’d almost turned around.
   “Let’s drive a little farther,” I’d urged my friend, who genially obliged and we continued driving along a bumpy, unpaved road that isn’t part of the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge’s recommended tour route.
   Within minutes we saw and heard them — thousands of ivory white snow geese — sitting on the edge of the ice. Even with the windows rolled up, we could hear their pitched yelps and barks that author Barry Lopez, is his classic book, “Arctic Dreams,” described as, “like a storm squall arriving, a great racket of shaken sheets of corrugated tin.”
   For another hour; the three of us individually wandered up and down the road, caught up in the spectacle of sound and colors. The snow geese contrasted vividly with the dullish gray frozen water, open water and a cloud-speckled sky that reflected both the open ponds and birds.
   Sometimes, it’s worth appreciating what a privilege it is to live here.
   Sights and sounds
   Sights and sounds aren’t guaranteed, but the likelihood of viewing thousands of waterfowl is almost guaranteed Saturday, March 15, during a special tour of the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. The guided outing is part of the ongoing celebration of the refuge’s 100th anniversary.
   Refuge spokesman Dave Menke said the upcoming free tour will give experienced and novice birders a chance to learn about wildlife habitats while viewing the current spring migration. A recent aerial survey counted more than 800,000 geese, swans and ducks on the Lower Klamath and neighboring Tule Lake refuges.
   The timing is ideal because mid- to late-March coincides with the peak of the spring migration. Menke and other refuge staff will explain how habitats are managed to serve large f locks of hundreds of migrating birds that travel the Pacific Flyway each spring and fall.
   Birding experts will have spotting scopes so tour travelers can view and identify many of the different species of waterfowl and other birds, including such raptors as bald eagles, rough-legged haws, northern harriers and great horned owls on the refuge.
   Menke said the family friendly tours will meet at the Lower Klamath Refuge entrance parking area at 8:15 a.m. for the first field trip, which will leave promptly at 8:30. A small bus will be available to transport tour participants, but availability is on a reservation-priority basis. Those not getting bus reservations are welcome to follow in private vehicles.
   A second refuge tour will depart from the Lower Klamath entrance at 1:15 p.m. Participants should bring snacks, drinks, warm clothing and binoculars. Spotting scopes and bird identification guides will be available for group use. Morning and afternoon tours will end at 12:30 and 4:15 p.m.
   To make a bus reservation, call the refuge headquarters at (530) 667-2231. Call the refuge for more information, including directions to the

ABOVE: Birds take flight at the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.





BELOW: A bald eagle dines on a bird at the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.

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