They're back. The Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, the teals (both common and cinnamon), the Buffleheads, the scoters, the scaups, the eagles, the Peregrines, the herons ... more than 200 other species in all are wintering at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.

This is prime birding time, and the parking lot fills up quickly every day. Parents are filling the holiday school break by bringing kids to see and learn about the birds, fish and mammals that frequent the former farm.

The refuge's boardwalk allows visitors to walk out into the delta and watch the tide come in and out under their feet.

It's about as close as you can get to many species living in a restored estuary.

The cost is $3 for adults, kids are free, and it's open from dawn to dusk every day.

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