Greetings from San Cristobal, NM. This week, I’m revisiting the Bosque del Apache in the quiet off-season before the bulk of the birds and the crowds of tourists and photographers arrive. I have the place pretty much to myself.
Here are some quieter moments in the Bosque del Apache, beginning with Hammer Hank, one of the resident Great Blue Herons with this prime location for skewering fish that make it into the irrigation channel. You’ve got to love these opportunistic fishers.
The marshes are flooded awaiting the arrival of thousands of birds. If you get a chance to go there, you won’t be disappointed.
Little nooks and crannies provide hiding places and make for mysterious-looking portals to the underworld of the march banks.
Tumbleweeds are the ubiquitous and unofficial plant of New Mexico and the Southwest. Locally, they are known as mesa street sweepers. I have seen them with numerous pieces of styrofoam, cups, and plastic grocery bags attached.
The marshes are often very calm, offering pristine reflections in the early morning light.
I titled this “Cornbird” although I suspect it is a Pine Siskin. I caught it on the hop from one corn row to the next.
Below is one of many sluice/headgates in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge that divert water from the Rio Grande to the marshes.
And for those who like color, there’s plenty of that too.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s trip.
As always, thanks for looking, commenting, and all the wonderful compliments. G
Greetings from San Cristobal. Happy Thanksgiving. I’ll start with a repost of these turkeys wandering in the old sunflowers at the Bosque del Apache NWR a couple of years ago. Seems appropriate for this week.
Back in the Bosque del Apache for the evening ‘fly in’. It is a great opportunity to capture silhouettes against the warm light of the setting sunset.
At home in San Cristobal is the old cottonwood tree where the ravens and magpies congregate. On this evening there is only one of each. Often times there’s a milieu and fights over branches. I like to think these two get along or perhaps the space between them is the adjudicator.
As always thanks for looking. Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your turkeys. G
Greetings from a blustery and chilly afternoon in San Cristobal, NM
We begin in Abiquiu along the banks of the Rio Chama underneath a cottonwood tree, its branches extending over the red willows to the river itself. Cerrito Blanco (butte) just north of the village of Abiquiu makes a natural focal point framed by a large tree limb.
Approximately four hours south is the Bosque del Apache (Woods of the Apache) NWR. This world-renowned National Wildlife Refuge is the wintering grounds for thousands of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. Areas of the refuge are flooded to create marches which attract many more birds and waterfowl. The refuge is open year-round, but if you want to see it at its best then plan to visit between November and January.
Besides the winged ones, the refuge is teeming with other wildlife. Bobcats, coyotes, elk, mountain lions, (I’ve yet to catch a glimpse of one), javelina, snakes, and this mule deer with many of its cousins!
Below is one of numerous Great Blue Herons that frequent the area. Each bird seems almost territorial over its pond. I pretty much guarantee this bird will be here at this time, on this pond every morning, patiently waiting and watching. Patience and steadfastness are traits I like to aspire to. I think I’ve got the patience factor down.
Sandhill Cranes are the biggest attraction at the refuge. Here at sunset visitors wait for the fly-in when the cranes land in the marshes to settle in for the night, safe from predators. In the morning at sunrise, they lift off in small groups and take to the skies bound for the pastures and cornfields up and down the refuge and the nearby Rio Grande. It’s quite a spectacular sight. If you want to be truly amazed, be sure to catch the thousand upon thousands of snow geese lift off simultaneously at sunrise. Here’s a short video I shot a couple of years ago. Pardon the ad at the beginning. There are some more images from the Bosque del Apache here.
These birds watch and call to their family members as they fly in.
Before dawn is the time I like best on one of the loop drives. While all the visitors are watching the snow geese and cranes fly out, I enjoy the rest of the refuge pretty much to myself. I’ve watched the lift-off many times. I also enjoy the refuge throughout other times of the day. When the many photographers and crowds are gone for lunch in nearby San Antonio and Socorro, again I enjoy the refuge mostly to myself. I prefer a picnic and solitude, in the presence of raptors perched high up looking for their lunch below.
The tree in the center is a popular roost for bald eagles. There’s one in the tree in this photo.
Bosque Del Apache, National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico. I waited at this road for some activity, perhaps a crane, a deer, or bobcat maybe even a mountain lion to saunter along. It wasn’t to be. Further down the irrigation channel, two wild turkeys wandered through the old sunflowers. Thanks for looking. G
Snow Goose, Bosque del Apache, National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico. When the sun sets on the Bosque del Apache marshes, these beautiful birds glow like jewels. It’s that time of year and they are returning to the National Wildlife Refuge, San Antonio, New Mexico. Thanks for looking. G
Riparian habitat, Bosque Del Apache NWR, New Mexico. Riparian habitat excites me and there’s plenty of it along the Rio Grande. This time of year the reserve awaits the return of the Sandhill Cranes. The Snow Geese will join them soon and the skies will be filled with primordial calls and the sound of wings beating, a joy to hear and see. Thanks for looking. G
Great Blue Heron, at the Bosque Del Apache, National Wildlife Refuge, in New Mexico. I popped into the Bosque del Apache (Woods of the Apache) earlier this week and spotted this familiar fellow, who always occupies this same spot year after year. It’s always nice to visit “the Bosque”, one of my favorites places ever. Thanks for looking. G
Marsh trees, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico. I’m reworking some old images to occupy myself on these long winter nights. I’m having a lot of fun. I was inspired by some glass lantern slides I’ve owned since the mid seventies. Stay tuned for more in the series. Thanks for looking. G
Soaring with Snow Geese in the Bosque Del Apache, National Wildlife Refuge NM. Last one from the refuge for a while. Sometimes I come across an image from the archives that intrigues me, like the two previous images of the heron. The snow geese, lit by morning sunlight, against a quintessential blue, New Mexico sky, brought me directly back to the moment when I made this image. I’ll keep returning to the Bosque del Apache in actuality and memory. Thanks for looking. G
Up close and personal Great Blue Heron in the Bosque del Apache, NWR, New Mexico. While we’re on the topic, I thought I would share an image of this different, more mature, Blue Heron. I have lots of images of these magnificent creatures. I’ll share more at some point in a later posts. The light source for this bird is the sun immediately after breaking over the horizon, the best kind spotlight. Thanks for looking. G