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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

February 15, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Here come the snow geese … along with their very own festival

The seventh annual Snow Goose and Birding Festival is coming up in Stanwood on February 23 and 24.

New this year is a celebration of the designation of the Skagit and Stilliguamish Delta as a site of regional importance in the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network featuring. The celebration will feature a talk by Rob Butler, a world expert on shorebird conservation and president of the Pacific Wildlife Foundation.

.See the festival website for more information and to purchase tickets.

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Snow geese brighten our winter days.

Photo by Alan Berner, Seattle Times staff photographer

Of course, you can always have a snow goose festival all your own. I was surprised, when reporting a shorebird story this week on just how easy it is to go see snow geese (and hear them) by the thousands.

“I’ll up my estimate to 3,000,” WDFW wildlife biologist Ruth Milnerr said casually as we drove out Boe Road to Port Susan Bay Reserve, owned by the Nature Conservancy.

She was talking about the geese packed into a farmer’s field. What a racket, as they carried on honking and took wing in great white clouds. A signature of winter, they offer a spectacular show, just an hour north of Seattle, and for free no less.

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The Stilly and Skagit deltas are alive with snow geese in winter.

Photo by Alan Berner, Seattle Times Staff Photographer

Of course the birds are always moving around, but the back roads of this farm country offer a likely sighting opportunity, through winter.

And then there is the reserve itself, well worth packing the binoculars for. It is open for visit by permission. Call ahead to the conservancy at 360-419-3140 to request an afternoon or morning visit.

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