Touring the Wildlife Refuges of the west during the autumn season is something that birdwatchers dream of doing. When the migration season gets underway, the bird photography opportunities abound in places where the wildlife feels safe from the human presence. Just ask any hunter and they will confirm the fact that wild animals seem to always know where they are safe and where they are not, especially during the fall hunting season. For this reason, if you want to see lots of wild birds and animals, don't go anywhere near the hunting grounds, because most of the wildlife has already moved out in anticipation!
The Turnbill National Wildlife Refuge is located in eastern Washington and this is a convenient spot for tourists heading west on Interstate Highway 90 from the neighboring Glacier National Park in Montana. The Rocky Mountains turn into endless grassy rolling hills and forests in this region, so the setting is as picturesque as can be. Spokane and Cheney are nearby and modern amenities can be found in these cities. Be sure to bring rain gear along for the wet rainy weather this state is famous for and be sure to not crack any rainy weather jokes to the locals, because they have heard them all before.
This Wildlife Refuge is located in the Columbia Basin and the geological history of this area has quite a story to tell. This forested prairie region was subject to extensive volcanic lava flows in ancient times, which eventually created meandering water channels throughout the landscape. This part of Washington is better known as the "Channelled Scablands" and this certainly is a fitting moniker for this vast volcanic wetlands area.
Turnbill is a prime time wetlands area that offers great birdwatching opportunities. This is an ecologically managed area and the natural volcanic water channels actually do help to control flooding. There is literally one lake, wetland marsh and forested island after another for miles around, so this is a great place to be during the autumn migration season. Turnbill is also great place to spot everything from busy beavers to wading bull moose, so by all means, be sure to bring a good camera along for the ride!
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