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Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Although we didn’t get to see the Sand Hill Cranes we were hoping to see at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge, it was a great start to our trip home from Fresno.  Best of all, the rain predicted held off until we finished our visit.

Birding, like fishing, is unpredictable.  Although I saw shots of Sand Hill Cranes taken a few days before we visited, we didn’t see a single crane on our visit.  Luckily, other birds tried to compensate for their absence.  We were greeted near the entrance by a large flock of White Pelicans

that cooperated by flying in a giant circle around us.

There must have been hundreds, if not thousands, of American Coots at the refuge.  It was tough getting a shot with just one coot in it.

I don’t think I ever realized just how small a Spotted Sandpiper is until I got this shot of one standing in front of a pair of Gadwalls.

As I focused on a small flock of Northern Shovelers, I noticed two small birds in the middle of the flock.  Apparently my camera had as much trouble focusing on them as I did seeing them because no matter how hard I tried to focus on them and not the Northern Shovelers or the reeds on the bank, I only got two out a dozen or so shots where they were in focus.

I think I love seeing Wilson Snipes so much because I looked for them for nearly four years before I ever saw one (though I later discovered two in the background of a shot of Dowitchers I had taken two years before I officially noted them).  When you actually see a snipe, you definitely know you’re paying attention to what’s in front of you.  

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