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Wildlife photographers have an opportunity to get up close to waterfowl during this year's spring migration, thanks to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

"We've set up two blinds at Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area and two at Oak Orchard," areas flanking the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge in northern Genesee County, said biologist Sonny Knowlton, who works those areas for the DEC.

"Photographer Douglas Domedion of Medina helped design what was needed, and local (Boy) Scouts built the four blinds as a conservation project," Knowlton said. "Each is about 5 feet square, painted camouflage outside, black inside, with peepholes and canvas over the windows."

Blinds at the Tonawanda Wildlife site are on Hidden Marsh and Spring Marsh; the Oak Orchard blinds are on Windmill Marsh and Goose Pond. Maps are available at the Iroquois Refuge headquarters on Casey Road, Alabama, where reservations must be made.

"We'll let photographers use the blinds for a half-day by reservation only," Knowlton said. "You have to sign up for the day and time at the refuge headquarters."

Domedion suggested scouting the areas first. Midday is the best time to locate the blinds without spooking the waterfowl because the birds are usually off feeding.

The blinds are equipped with fold-down trays for extra lenses and film and one bucket to sit on in each blind. Perch logs are located near the blinds so preening activity can be seen, and the areas are baited, as well.

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