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Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is open for 'business' even in winter

Wildlife viewing

December is a busy, frenzied, exhausting, overloaded month with holiday events, activities, shopping, gift wrapping, cooking and decorating for Christmas.

Time for a break. Rain or shine, the Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge is waiting for you, offering a quiet respite from the shoppers and traffic.

The rain has returned, and so has the wildlife. Stroll a path and smell the wet forest. Listen for Pacific chorus frogs. Look at the mushrooms that are sprouting everywhere. The wetlands have filled and now provide a place for waterfowl to forage. Ducks and geese are on the ponds and path.

Watch for Eurasian wigeons in mixed flocks with their American cousins. You're likely to see great blue herons and occasionally a great egret. You can see bald eagles and peregrine falcons hunting while Northern harriers fly low over the fields and wetlands searching for a meal.

Nature Store

But if you can't resist some last-minute shopping, the Nature Store in the Wildlife Center has a great selection of nature-related items for friends and family. Take time to browse the merchandise, which includes a wide selection of field guides, nature-themed earrings, finger puppets, stuffed animals and shiny green rain gear for the youngsters.

There are also handmade placemats, coasters and table runners with a nature theme sewn by the Crafty Friends. New items include hooded full-zip sweatshirts and fleece vests, lots of plush toys, new jewelry, puzzles for ages 2 to 102, games and science kits.

The store also has a wide selection of books about nature for children of every age. These include story books, coloring books, indestructible books and educational books covering topics from mammals to butterflies, bees and insects. Whether your child or grandchild is interested in pond critters, beavers, moths, bats or any of the other amazing creatures in nature, the store has a book which will intrigue them.

The Nature Store will offer a special sale of 20 percent off Nov. 29 for Friends members and new members, so you can join the Friends that day and do your Christmas shopping.

Please note that the Wildlife Center will close at 1 pm. Nov. 26 for Thanksgiving and will reopen Nov. 28. The center will close at 1 pm. Dec. 23 and reopen Jan. 2, 2015.

Photo Society

The Photo Society will meet on Thursday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. in the Riparian room of the Wildlife Center. A Canon representative will speak about Canon DDP 3.x and 4.x versus Adobe Raw codecs.

Also, Sharon O'Keefe, a local photographer, will talk about photographing people, city streets and events.

The meetings are open to everyone with an interest in photography.

Puddle Stompers

Are your children ready for some outdoor activities after all of the excitement of the holidays? A little rain has never stopped Oregonians from enjoying nature, so bring the kids to the Refuge to stomp in puddles and check out slugs, salamanders, frogs, birds and more.

The Puddle Stompers is a preschool environmental program for children and their families. Volunteer naturalists will lead nature crafts, share stories and guide hikes on the Refuge trails. Rain gear is provided for children, although adults need to bring their own.

This activity will be held Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Refuge. It is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

For more information, contact Jenna Mendenhall at HYPERLINK "mailto:jmendnehall@friendsoftualatinrefuge.org" jmendenhall@friendsoftualatinrefuge.org or call 503-625-5944.

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