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I have taken my sweet time honoring my promise to myself to log more winter adventures, but I took the first step today. It was a nearby destination; just up I-5 to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. I hadn’t even quite finished my 16-ounce latte when I arrived. I left home before dawn, hoping for a sunrise; but there was no color this morning (nor sun, until I got home), but it didn’t matter.

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The Delta is comprised of nine unique habitats: the Nisqually Flats, shrub, coniferous forest, freshwater marsh, salt marsh, open saltwater, rivers and creeks, mixed grasslands, and riparian woodland. Dikes and boardwalks provide limited access to the eight square miles of the Refuge.

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I beat the crowds for a ringside view of bathing and breakfast for some of the 200 species of birds that visit the Refuge over the course of the year.

Did I see a thousand geese? If you count the cacophonous announcing of unseen presence, I surely did. Too bad you can’t take an audio photo.

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I wish I knew the names of all the ducks, perhaps a new mission is to learn them. Here’s a start.

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Merganser

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Upside Down Duck

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American Widgeon

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Charlie’s Angels

The sweet sandpipers and the brilliant white gulls. How do they stay so clean?

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The Great Blue Heron. Really, is there a more cool bird? Certainly none better dressed. Or more photogenic.

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How the Great Blue got its name.

And a special treat, seen through my zoom lens and only because of the birdwatchers who have super human spotting abilities: a Great Horned Owl.

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I didn’t get the sunrise today; and the ebbing tide—halfway between high and low when I got there—revealed more mud, less water, than I had hoped for. I’ve never been there at high tide. But the Refuge is only a latte away; I can visit again and again. Once a month sounds about right. I’ll be watching the tide table and the forecast.

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