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Wintering-over in Chesapeake

Wintering-over this far north is commonplace for several thousand Canada geese, in spite of the snow and ice. The key is something to eat; important too is sanctuary from hunters.

In fact, the number of Canada geese wintering in the Chesapeake Bay area has risen from some 5,000 in 1942 to tens of thousands currently.

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Though both the hunting season and the daily bag are considerably more restricted than in the times of James Michener's recent best- selling novel, "Chesapeake," the main contributing factor is availability of corn left by mechanized harvesters in the numerous fields of this farming area.

To escape the guns, the geese generally congregate during the day at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge bordering the bay and fly to the fields to feed in the moonlight.

A forceful reminder of the need for sanctuary is the gunfire that punctuates the dawn in marshes near Blackwater. A goose, killed but not retrieved by a hunter, can now and again be seen lying at water's edge.

Viewing the geese and other wildlife is a popular pastime here. Though restricted to the main road, much more can be seen from a private car than might be presumed. Only a few yards separate visitors from the sights and sounds of literally thousands of the birds.

A rare and much more intimate view was granted the Monitor by the refuge management recently. The photographs on these pages were made from a carefully placed "blind." These pictures are the reward for arriving an hour before daylight and sitting in the cold nearly all day, in a cloth hut too small to permit standing or stretching more than an arm's length.


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