Fall Flight Festival at refuge each Nov. Sunday

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Submitted to the Optic

Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, east of Las Vegas, will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Sunday in November the Traditional Annual Fall Flight Festival featuring a 4-1/2 mile self-guided auto drive. This tour allows visitors to enjoy the  spaciousness of the short-grass prairie in areas of the refuge that are not open for general public use the rest of the year.

Visitors can observe directly the impact of current drought conditions on ponds, lakes, marshes and fields.  With the lack of water, migrating waterfowl will be limited but numerous grassland birds such as mountain bluebirds, meadowlarks, horned larks and sparrows along with various wintering raptors will make the trip most enjoyable.

Volunteer roving naturalists will be on hand with spotting scopes to help you identify birds. No walking is required. You are encouraged to bird from or close to your vehicle so birds will not be disturbed. All events at the refuge are free.

Friends of the local refuge volunteers will be inside the Visitor Center to meet and greet visitors. Teams may participate in the second annual Bird-a-thon each Sunday. The team reporting the largest number of species each Sunday will receive a prize, and there will be a grand prize winner for the month.

Special Wildlife Kids Crafts, featuring a different themed craft are held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. each Sunday. Children will enjoy the live raptor presentation the first Sunday.

Interpretive programs are repeated at noon and 1:30 p.m. each Sunday:

• Sunday, Nov. 4 “Live Raptor Presentation” by Santa Fe Raptor Center. This program is ideal for children!

• Sunday, Nov. 11, “Playa Wetlands-Ecology and Wildlife” with Bill Johnson, FWS Biologist, Wetlands Biologist

• Sunday, Nov. 18,”Owls of Northern New Mexico” Manager, Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge

• Sunday, Nov. 25  “A Birder’s Guide to Duck Butts” with Raymond Van Buskirk, long-term birder and conservation biology student at the University of New Mexico.

For further information, contact Jan Arrott at 454-6115. In case of inclement weather, it may be necessary for some events to be canceled or postponed. Call the Visitor Services Office at the refuge at 425-358 ext 205.