Snow geese make annual visit to Ridgecrest


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Desertdog
December 27, 2004, 04:01 PM
Big beautiful birds all around town; but you can't hunt them. You know how it is in town, no discharge of firearm in the town limits.
They are beautiful to look at and sometimes there are so many in an area that you see nothing but white. :)


Snow geese make annual visit to Ridgecrest
http://ridgecrestca.com/articles/2004/12/26/news/local/news06.txt

Sunday, December 26, 2004 7:00 PM PST



BY LINDA SAHOLT/lsaholt@ridgecrestca.com

When Hayley Merinar, 2, went to Leroy Jackson Park with her parents Dec. 12, she found something wonderful - a flock of snow geese resting on the grass. The annual arrival of these elegant birds is a sure sign that winter is here.

When she ran up to the beautiful birds, they took to the air like a white cloud of wings.

"Ooooooohh, birds! Pretty!" said Hayley, running to catch up with them.

"She looked like she was trying to fly with them," said her mother, Brandi Baker. Hayley's father, Troy Merinar, photographed the toddler enjoying the nature experience.

Snow geese migrate through the high desert every year, arriving at grassy areas in early December. They stay for three or four months, then fly back up north to breed in the high Artic tundra.

When they migrate south, snow geese winter over not only here in the Indian Wells Valley, but also in the Central Valley, Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico.

At the Kerncrest chapter of the Audubon Society, some 1,600 snow geese were counted in this year's Christmas Bird Count.

According to Brenda Burnett, Audubon member, as many as 2,000 snow geese have been counted in the IWV area in the past.

The birds are attracted to park areas because they feed on the grass. Large numbers of the birds can be found in local parks, as well as on board the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, at the golf course and the sewer ponds.

"They spend their nights at the sewer ponds. They need water to go to sleep on. It protects them from predators like coyotes," said Burnett.

"They fly over in V formations as they go between Jackson Park and the golf course."

She urged people not to chase them. Enjoy watching them from a distance.

At the golf course at NAWS, the geese are welcome visitors. According to Pete Lager, recreation aide, the geese keep the grass trimmed and fertilized.

"They give a lot of free fertilizer, which helps the golf course. In the spring, the grass is a lot healthier," said Lager.

"The maintenance guys shoo them off the greens and move them around so they're not on one spot too long. They fly over to the ponds to the north of us when it starts getting dark."

The geese then fly back to the golf course as soon as it gets light.

"Sometimes they're fun to watch," said Lager.

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