A Panoply of Wetland Birds
March 2-4, 2021
Merced National Wildlife Refuge, Merced, California
Although I went to Merced Wildlife Refuge specifically seeking the great wintering flocks of Sandhill Cranes and Snow/Ross’s Geese, I was also hoping to catch sight of the numerous other birds drawn to the Central Valley wetlands. The abundant damp grasslands, the stretches of shallow waters dotted with cattails and reeds, and the mowed agricultural fields are all attractive to many birds.
Driving through the wildlife refuge is, at times, an odd experience since you are instructed to stay in your car. There are only a few places where you are allowed to park and walk around. Here humans are restrained and, in a sense, caged, while the wild creatures are given free rein.
The car acted as a convenient blind where I could rest my camera on the ledge of the open window. I drove slowly, very slowly, with my camera safely in my lap, repeatedly lifting the heavy telephoto lens to the window when I stopped at spots with good views. It took me 3-4 hours to drive the 5 mile loop.
Below is a selection of photos representing most of the birds I identified. I chose the best photos of each. A few birds I have only subpar images but I still included them to prove I actually saw these birds. Some other birds were not photographed. I believe the total number of ID’d birds came to about 50 species. At least seven were new to my Life List.
Additional birds sighted but not photographed:
• Yellow-rumped Warbler
• Northern Harrier
• Loggerhead Shrike
• Ruby-crowned Kinglet
• Great Blue Heron
• Mourning Dove
• California Gull
• Least Sandpiper
Please do not use photographs without permission. To inquire about permission contact Carla at: firstname.lastname@example.org.