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From bats to birds to learning how to photograph wildlife, there is something for everyone at refuge

PAULA FARRIS - This bench in the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is both a piece of art and an inviting place to sit and contemplate nature from morning to night.Are you as ready for fall as I am?

The hot summer weather, the wildfires, the news of Hurricane Harvey's and Irma's destruction have left me feeling that nothing would ever be the same. Yet some things are still the same.

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is waiting for you to come explore its forest, wetlands and oak savanna. Meander the trail or sit on a bench and soak up the sounds of migrating geese and swans. Bring your binoculars and watch the variety of dabbling ducks, mallards, northern pintails, American wigeons and green-winged teal that will arrive for shelter and food in the wetlands.

Take time to stop by the Wildlife Center and visit the outstanding exhibit that tells the story of the area before the establishment of the refuge. It started as a dream and became reality through hard work and determination.

The refuge was established in 1992 and opened to the public in 2006. Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the refuge on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will offer family activities, a walk along the historic Chicken Creek channel, and a special presentation about the refuge. For more information, visit gov/refuge/Tualatin_River.

Bats of Night

A Bats of the Night presentation will be held Wednesday, Oct. 4, from 6:30 8:30 p.m. by the refuge's very own expert, Eva Kristofik. Learn about the species, their biology and behavior. Then take a walk on the refuge to see the bats at night. This program has limited space available. Please register online at friendsoftualatinrefuge.org.

Tualatin River Photo Society

The Tualatin River Photo Society will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, when Seth Winkelhake, Friends' environmental education specialist, will talk about the trail cameras that he has installed at the refuge. The cameras capture some surprising sights that he posts on Facebook and the Friends' web site.

In addition, Winkelhake, who is an experienced wildlife tracker, has been using camera traps to capture photos of wildlife in urban areas of the Tualatin Valley as well as more rural areas of the Coast range.

At the meeting, Winkelhake will talk about types of trail cameras available as well as where and how to place them to get the best photos, and there will be a slideshow of his photos from Beaverton and Tualatin as well as farther afield.

This group is open to anyone with an interest in nature photography.

Owl Prowls

Owl Prowls will take place Tuesday, Oct. 10, and Tuesday, Oct. 17, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Whooooo goes there? Join the refuge's owl enthusiast Seth Winkelhake to learn why owls are outstanding hunters. These birds are a reminder that nature is still very active after the sun goes down. Learn about the different owls that call the refuge home and their mysterious nocturnal lives. Flashlights will be provided.

Puddle Stompers

Puddle Stompers programs will be held Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Oct. 17, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

This preschool environmental education program invites children and their families to spend time learning about the natural wonders of the refuge. Volunteer naturalists will lead nature crafts, share stories and guide hikes on refuge trails. These programs are free and open to the public, but registration is required. For more information, contact Seth Winkelhake or call 503-625-5944.

Second Saturday Work Party

A Second Saturday Work Party is set for Saturday, Oct. 14, from 8:45 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will meet at the refuge, 19255 S.W. Pacific Highway, Sherwood, at 8:45 a.m. to check in and go to the work site around 9 a.m.

Snacks and work gloves will be provided. Wear sturdy shoes and pants, plan for cold weather and rain, and bring a water bottle.

Creatures of the Night

A Creatures of the Night program is set for Saturday, Oct. 28, from 5 to 9 p.m.

What is in an owl pellet? How do bats find their food? Find the answers to these questions and more as you experience the nighttime wonders of the refuge. This free family event will feature indoor hands-on activities, night walks and fun surprises. Kids can dress up as their favorite animal.

Night walks will start at 6 p.m. and will go every 15 minutes until 8 p.m. Sign up when you arrive, but there are limited spaces available until filled. Adult supervision is required for event. Registration is not required.

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