November 24, 2016 Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

Yet More Cranes and Geese

Snow Goose Explosion
Snow Goose Explosion

A Snow Goose explosion, caused by a predator approaching too close, or just one nervous goose thinking something was amiss. This noisy flock takeoffs occur all throughout the day and are pretty spectacular to see, and especially to hear.

Another Kind of Flock
Another Kind of Flock

A different kind of “explosion”, the people explosion, peaked with last week’s Festival of the Cranes. Post festival, the numbers of people has moderated and it has once again become a little more enjoyable to venture out on the refuge.

Snow Goose
Snow Goose

One of the advantages of arriving here a little early is the opportunity to catch some colorful backdrops of autumn foliage colors. With a couple of hard freezes occurring lately, the leaves are all turning brown and dropping now.

Snow Goose
Snow Goose
Snow Goose
Snow Goose
Snow Goose
Snow Goose
Snow Geese
Snow Geese

Lesser and Greater Sandhill Cranes

Lesser Sandhill Cranes
Lesser Sandhill Cranes

This pair of Lesser Sandhills was seen leading a procession of Greater Sandhills down one of the irrigation ditches on the North Loop Road in the refuge.

Lesser and Greater Sandhill Cranes
Lesser and Greater Sandhill Cranes

The above image gives you a pretty good idea of the size difference in the two types of Sandhill Cranes. This year I am seeing a far greater number of Lesser Sandhills than I have on previous visits.

Sandhill Crane Greeting
Sandhill Crane Greeting

These are very vocal birds, calling out greetings as they fly in and again after they land.

Sandhill Crane Squabble
Sandhill Crane Squabble
Sandhill Crane Squabble
Sandhill Crane Squabble

Not really sure if this was a squabble or just a dance.

Sandhill Crane Squabble
Sandhill Crane Squabble
Sandhill Crane with Shotgun Cartridge
Sandhill Crane with Shotgun Cartridge

A sad reminder that these birds are hunted once they fly off the refuge. I took this shot late one afternoon and assumed the crane would simply use one of it’s feet to pull the shotgun cartridge off it’s upper bill. But then I saw it fly in the next morning with the cartridge still attached.

Mulie Dash Through
Mulie Dash Through

This young mule buck came flying through the cornfield where the cranes were foraging and photographers were shooting. Really moving at a rapid clip as you can see from the image where all four feet are off the ground.

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes

A family unit foraging. The leucistic Sandhill Crane showed up with a family this year for the first time, I was told.

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Crane Family Fly In
Sandhill Crane Family Fly In
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

I love this flight position, assumed sometimes as much as 50 feet above the landing area, as they glide into the wind and prepare to land, oftentimes calling out greetings to those gathered below.

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

I’ve been here almost a month now and with temperatures plummeting it just might be time to continue on south to slightly warmer climes and maybe find some hummingbirds to shoot, quite a change of pace from these large guys.

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5 thoughts on “November 24, 2016 Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico”

    1. Numbers are pretty substantial, about the same as previous years and this present cold snap should bring more in. However, most of the cranes have been foraging in a couple of the large field just south of the Coyote and Willow viewing platforms and thus are out of photo range. I imagine they will eventually move out to the farm fields where they can be better seen. Good luck! I am leaving soon for places a little warmer, it was 12 degrees in the refuge yesterday at 7 AM.

  1. Nice photos Bob, I’ve never seen a Lesser Sandhill Crane before. Also, I didn’t know that Sandhills were hunted, so learned something today from your blog. I’m not anti hunting, but can’t imagine shooting such a wonderful bird.
    Debra

    1. From my campsite, only a mile or so north of the refuge, I can hear gunshots as the hunters target these birds flying in and out of the refuge to forage in the surrounding agricultural fields. Not really that many hunters I suppose, because I have yet to actually come upon one. Have no idea what they must taste like, but they would have a heckuva pair of drumsticks.

      1. When I read your post I did a google search and read on a state of Kansas web page that they are considered one of the best tasting birds.

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