November 9, 2016 Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico

The Snow Geese Have Arrived
The Snow Geese Have Arrived

Week Two at Bosque del Apache NWR

As you can see from the above image, the snow geese have arrived in numbers this week. Nothing like it should be in a few more weeks, but two large flocks flew in during the week and joined forces once here, gathering along the South Loop Road in the evening and moving over towards the flight deck in the morning.

Snow Geese
Snow Geese
Snow Goose
Snow Goose
Snow Geese
Snow Geese
Mallards in Flight
Mallards in Flight

Meanwhile the number of ducks here is astounding! Probably thousands of Pintails, along with hundreds of Mallards and Widgeons, with smaller numbers of Teal and others.

Pintails in Flight
Pintails in Flight
Pintails in Flight
Pintails in Flight
An Extremely Light Colored Sandhill Crane
An Extremely Light Colored Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane numbers grow daily, but at this time they are gathering and feeding in refuge fields that are pretty much inaccessible  for close photography.

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Crane Landing
Sandhill Crane Landing

Most of these images were taken from a pretty good distance near the Willow Deck on the North Loop. The distance forces me to add a 1.4 extender to my 600mm lens to get any kind of close image.

Sandhill Cranes on the Runway
Sandhill Cranes on the Runway
Sandhill Cranes About to Liftoff
Sandhill Cranes About to Liftoff
Sandhill Cranes Liftoff
Sandhill Cranes Liftoff

This week the staff made the first couple of row cuts on the North Loop farm fields, but I have yet to see any of the cranes really rushing to get out there to feed. These farm fields are right next to the road and do allow for some close shots of the feeding cranes and geese, but apparently it is going to take some more time before the birds decide they need to venture out there.

Sandhill Crane Takeoff
Sandhill Crane Takeoff
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

There are now several hundred cranes roosting at night along the ponds on the side of the highway, providing an opportunity for early morning takeoff shots, when, and if, the clouds don’t block out the rising sun.

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

So far this year, most mornings there are clouds blocking the light from the sun until after the cranes have flown off to the distant fields to forage for the day. Eventually there will be some nice chances at these ponds to catch some nice takeoff shots.

After twice encountering the lone leucistic Sandhill Crane during my first week here, I have not had any luck finding him lately, although I have heard reports of others seeing him, so he must still be around, hope to get an opportunity to get some nice shots of this rarity before I leave !

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5 thoughts on “November 9, 2016 Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico”

    1. There are acres and acres of corn, and other crops grown here on the refuge to provide nutritious forage for the cranes and geese. Since the cranes are leery of walking into the corn fields while the corn is still standing, afraid of predators hiding there, the refuge staff cuts down the corn with farm tractors so that the birds can safely forage. These cut areas are what I was referring to.

      1. Very interesting thank you. It’s nice to learn how the reserve provides for the birds. I’m really enjoying your pictures. My mother was a self proclaimed “birder” not a true bird watcher because she wasn’t a serious enthusiast. However she enjoyed birdwatching and could identify many.

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