MERCED NWR: Auto tour route can produce Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Snow, Ross', Greater White-fronted, and Canada Geese, Sandhill Crane, American White Pelican, White-faced Ibis, many species of ducks common to central California including some less common like Blue-winged Teal, and Ring-necked Pheasant. The entrance to the refuge is good for Great Horned Owls in the trees lining the road. The last section of the tour route can produce Mountain Plover and Yellow-headed Blackbirds (usually in mixed blackbird flocks).
Directions: Head 8 miles south from Merced on SH 59, and turn west on Sandy Mush Road until you reach the refuge.
Other locations in the area:
SAN LUIS NWR: Auto tour route can produce many of the same species as other refuges of the area, with the exception that San Luis contains better forest habitats. Great Horned Owls are often easily spotted in trees lining the route during the winter. In addition to the tour route the refuge also has a tour loop to view the Tule Elk enclosure.
Directions: From Los Banos take County Road J14 (North Mercy Spring Road), and then turn NE on Wolfsen Road, which takes you into the refuge.
SANTA FE GRADE ROAD: Numerous wetlands line the entire road. I usually see numerous waterfowl and Ibis along this route. Bald Eagle is also possible.
Directions: Take SH 140 about 2.5 miles east of Gustine and turn south on Santa Fe Grade.
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