Thursday, December 19, 2013

First Trip to Bosque del Apache NWR

During our trip to New Mexico, we had planned to visit the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, located about half-way between Albuquerque and Las Cruces, on Saturday.  However, due to a windy and rainy weather forecast, we made an impromptu family trip this afternoon (Thursday) instead, taking along my brother and his wife. We arrived an hour before sunset and met Danielle's brother and his wife who had driven down from Colorado and spent the whole afternoon there.

As we drove into the park, we saw large numbers of Snow Geese circling the Visitor Center as well as a large, dark-colored hawk that I did not identify ... a very auspicious start. We drove part of the North Loop and stopped at a couple of the observation decks. Here is the view northwest from one of those.

Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-320, f/5.6, 1/200s
In the next image, the geese are the white birds and the cranes are the large gray ones. Both have black wing-tips. They are flocking into the ponds to spend the night after feeding out in the fields during the day. All of the birds we saw were flying in from the north. We had been planning to end up at the North Crane Pond, but watching the birds coming in, we decided to stay put and let them come to us.

Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-800, f/7.1, 1/1000s
I made some attempts at catching cranes in flight by panning the camera as the birds flew past. Here are a couple of shots that I managed to get in focus.

Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-1600, f/8, 1/640s
Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-1600, f/8, 1/250s

This lone bird was hanging out on the bank next to the pond, conveniently posing.

Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-200, f/6.5, 1/3s

In addition to cranes and snow geese, we also saw numerous ducks as well as a couple dozen Canada Geese.  This picture shows some Mallards and American Wigeon as well.

Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-1600, f/8, 1/320s

As sunset progressed, the light showed a nice hue on the birds. Here is a crane picking matter out from the water with its bustle glowing orange.

Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-1600, f/8, 1/1000s

A pair of cranes flying through the golden sky.  This scene looks like it belongs in Egypt. Danielle says that one is saying to the other, "we shoulda taken that left toin at Albuquerque!"

Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-1600, f/8, 1/800s

The observation deck was placed such that we were able to see cranes silhouetted in the sunset lit pond.

Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-1600, f/6.5, 1/1250s

The pond below contains mostly cranes. A few formations of ducks are flying further south in the park. The ducks have stubby wings and flap much faster than do the geese.

Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-80, f/5.0, 1/160s
A few minutes later and the sky was literally full of the ducks, mostly flying away and to the left except for the few that are closer in which were flying to the right.

Canon SX-50 HS - Single frame from movie

In this picture, the sunset illuminates one of the drainage canals surrounding the pond.  A small bridge crosses this one to get to the observation deck.

Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-400, f/6.3, 1/20s

I did manage to get a shot of Venus shining over the park with some birds taking off from the pond.  I was amazed how loud a large flock of geese is when it takes off; it sounded like a plane revving up for takeoff.

Canon SX-50 HS - ISO-400, f/6.3, 1/15s

The video below show a clip of birds landing in the pond and one of the cranes and geese vocalizing in the pond.

Wow, I have never seen so many birds in one place. The official count for the day listed about 9000 Sandhill Cranes, 45,000 Snow Geese, and 90,000 ducks of various species. We will definitely be making more trips here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Relevant comments and questions are welcome but submissions with spam-links will not be published.