Thursday, February 18, 2010
Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Going to Bosque Del Apache from the 15th through the 17th of February to photograph residing winter waterfowl and raptors might sound boring to some, but after making many visits at different times of the year Loretia and I have discovered the enormous value of this national wildlife refuge. Looking for the illusive wildlife is such a peaceful adventure, that it makes all the worldly cares melt away. Sure there are some visiting within this pristine environment driving so fast that their leaving contrails of dust in hopes to catching a photograph of wildlife as if their at a zoo, but the value of this environment is to see all the waterfowl and predators in an undisturbed atmosphere in a natural habitat. Watching the Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese land on a marsh within the wildlife refuge at sunset will give anyone goose bumps and Crane bumps if there is such a thing. To observe this spectacle is to become one with nature, and understanding that these magnificent birds are looking for a safe resting place before dark.
Where ever these migrating giants gather predators also follow, kind of like humans in that respect, but to see thousands of cranes slowly glide into a watery marsh like aircraft landing at an airport, to find safety in numbers and an early warnings system against numerous coyotes, fox and even raccoons lurking in the surrounding tall grass. We saw as many as six coyotes traveling in a pack looking for dinner. Even if we were blind, the sound of their presence would be a joy. From only feet away we watched hundreds of gathering geese and cranes landing and greeting one another with unique trumpeting calls as if to say, “Hey, long time no see!” or “Don’t get in my space or I’ll bite you!” but definitely communicating in the massive group with some kind of pecking order. It all makes our human runaround life with little meaning feel ridiculous.
Even though our short stay was several weeks after the beginning of the mass exodus, we still saw thousands lingering and foraging for food. We also saw Canadian geese, Mallard’s, Great Blue Heron, American Coot, Snowy Egret and many we were not able to identify but still enjoyed watching. The raptures we say were Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Red-Tailed Hawks, A Peregrine Falcon, and many others that perched at tree tops that were not photogenic and would fly away before we could capture them in our lens.
We stayed at the Bosque Birdwatchers RV Park in San Antonio, NM only a few miles from the wildlife refuge but sometimes surrounded by its inhabitants. Our friends Kate and Terry were spending an extended stay there and it was good to catch up on our RV adventures even though it was short lived. The weather was fine with daytime highs near sixty degrees and overnight lows in the teens and of course beautiful sunsets every evening. You gotta love it!