MER -- A white cloud of mostly Ross's geese fly near a windmill and tractors last week near the Merced National Wildlife Refuge.
The migrating birds are plentiful as they and other birds make the refuge their winter home. The refuge encompasses 10,258 acres of wetlands, native grasslands, vernal pools and riparian areas.
It has the largest wintering populations of lesser sandhill cranes (20,000) and Ross's geese (60,000) along the Pacific Flyway. They mingle with thousands of other visiting waterfowl and shorebirds to make the refuge a true winter phenomenon.