Explore the Nisqually wildlife refuge during walks, programs

Visitors to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge might see birds such as this great blue heron during a guided walk.
Visitors to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge might see birds such as this great blue heron during a guided walk. Staff file, 2012

The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is a great destination when you want to get outdoors and only have a few hours to spend.

There are several miles of trails for hiking, a multitude of places to watch resident and migrant birds and spots to look for other wildlife.

Along with its natural attractions, the refuge also is offering a number of programs in the coming weeks

Among those is the continuation of the annual summer lecture series. The free hourlong talks begin at 7 p.m. at the Norm Dicks Visitor Center auditorium.

Attendance is limited to 100 people, and seating will open at 6 p.m. on a first-come basis, and you must be present. The refuge’s $3 entrance fee is waived for those attending the lectures.

Here is the remaining schedule:

Wednesday: “Polar Bears of the Chukchi Sea,” by Erik Regehr, wildlife biologist for the Marine Mammal Management Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Aug. 5: “Working for Earth: How Climate Change is Affecting Us,” by Judy Todd, writer and poet and founder of Nature Connect Northwest.

Aug. 12: “The Life and Legacy of Billy Frank Jr.,” by Trova Hefferman, author and director of The Legacy Project at the Washington State Heritage Center, and Hank Adams of the Franks Landing Indian Community.

Aug. 19: “Geologic History of the Nisqually Reach,” by Tim Walsh, geologist with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Aug. 26: “Caspian Terns of Puget Sound,” by Joe Meche, naturalist, educator and member of the North Cascades Audubon Society.

In addition to the lecture series, the refuge also holds guided walks, with varying themes, each weekend.

The walks last about 1-2 hours. Participants should wear comfortable shoes and can bring binoculars if you have them. Most of the walks leave from the visitor center.

Among those on the schedule for August are:

Saturday: 1-3 p.m. “Amazing Animal Adaptations” looks at the traits animals have developed as they adapt to their surroundings. Look for the refuge’s Critter Cart in front of the visitor center.

Aug. 2: 11 a.m.-noon. Walk with experienced birder Richard Cormier as he leads “Raptors of the Delta.” Look for bald eagles, northern harriers, peregrine falcons, great horned owls and others. This program starts in the center’s auditorium.

Aug. 8: 10:30 a.m.-noon. “The Magical Forest” walk is family-friendly. Participants will learn about the relationship between plants, animals and other organisms in the refuge forest.

Aug. 9: 1-2:30 p.m. During “Home Sweet Home,” Sue Stone will talk about the people who have made the Nisqually River delta their home. She will talk about native people, European settlers and the events surrounding the Medicine Creek Treaty.

All the programs are free, but there is a $3 entrance fee (good for up to four adults). The programs will run through Sept. 20.

The refuge is located just off Interstate 5, at Exit 114. For more information, call the refuge at 360-753-9467 or go to fws.gov/refuge/nisqually.