December 1, 2016 Leaving Bosque del Apache

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

Time to Leave

Frozen Pond
Freezing Over

In the image above, you may be able to detect that some of the ducks are not sitting in the water, but are, in fact, standing on it! When ice starts forming on the ponds, then it must be time for me to head farther south. Morning temps are now regularly in the teens and, although the afternoons are pleasantly warm, I guess I have gotten enough crane and goose shots to last a lifetime or two, so it’s time to head for the desert.

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

These large birds continue to fascinate me and for some reason, I don’t seem to tire of taking action shots of them as they go about their daily routines.

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane Heading for Night Time Roost
Sandhill Crane Heading for Night Time Roost

Th wildly varying light conditions, above a crane taking off just before the sun sets …

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

… here one taking off in the chill of a below freezing morning, provide such variations in the birds coloring as to keep my interest up.

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

This is a shot of a crane coming in to the corn fields with his landing gear still retracted. Seems odd to see them without their long legs trailing behind them in flight.

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes

Love it when a pair of cranes are caught in flight in pretty much the same plane and I am able  to get them both in sharp focus. Because of the shallow depth of field when using the 600mm lens and shooting in these dim light conditions, it doesn’t happen very often.

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Crane Takeoff
Sandhill Crane Takeoff
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes

The above images are the last of my good action shots of the cranes greeting, and/or fighting, moves and dances, never am absolutely certain which are which.

Sandhill Crane Posing
Sandhill Crane Posing

A classic preening pose …

Sandhill Crane Portrait
Sandhill Crane Portrait

… and a closeup portrait.

Ducks Waiting to Take Flight
Ducks Waiting to Take Flight

Almost every morning that I have been here, I am out on the refuge roads before sunrise, always a peaceful place at that hour, with very few other folks out yet, the shallow ponds are just covered with roosting ducks and geese, the numbers simply astounding.

Dawn Flight, Snow Geese
Dawn Flight, Snow Geese

Just as the sun is coming up, the birds take flight and head out to the surrounding fields to forage.

Farm Fields on the North Loop
Farm Fields on the North Loop
Snow Geese Landing
Snow Geese Landing
Snow Goose Landing
Snow Goose Landing

A typical white snow goose ….

Blue Morph Snow Goose
Blue Morph Snow Goose

… and a dark morph snow goose, also called a Blue Goose, landing to forage in the farm fields on the refuge.

Tomorrow I am heading to Quartzite, Arizona, to get some much needed peace and quiet out on the desert, away from the confines of the cramped quarters of the Birdwatchers RV Park here at Bosque del Apache. I have thousands of images to sort through and process, so there probably won’t be much to report for the next couple of weeks. I plan on leaving Quartzite before Christmas to avoid the crowds there, and will be spending the next couple of months out in the desert around Yuma.

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December 2, 2013 Bosque del Apache NWR

Snow geese landing
Snow geese landing

Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Sandhill crane in flight calling
Sandhill crane in flight calling

Almost an embarrassment of riches here on the temporarily open intermittant north loop road, with just an unbelievable number of birds and fly in activity all day long.

Screech owl roost
Screech owl roost

 

 

A special thank you to the helpful fellow photographer yesterday for pointing out to me a nearby tree that serves as a daytime home for a screech owl, who just happened to be home when I arrived early this morning.

 

 

 

 

Having gotten plenty of bird butt shots yesterday ( the cranes always land into the wind and the wind was out of the north and in my face at the busiest location ), I wandered up the road a little to another corn field on the opposite side of the road where the wind would be in my face and the birds would be landing facing me.

Snow geese taking flight
Snow geese taking flight

The unfortunate tradeoff here was the angle of the sun, now more to the birds back and side, resulting in more difficult lighting, often, just too much of the bird harshly shaded. But then again, it is almost always a compromise, very seldom do you get the sun, the wind , and the activity all properly aligned, not to mention line of sight, height of brush, trees or distracting objects in the background.

 

Blue morph snow goose taking flight
Blue morph snow goose taking flight
Sandhill crane landing among snow geese
Sandhill crane landing among snow geese

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the first time here in this refuge, I actually got out my folding camp rocking chair, walked down to the birds level at the edge of the cornfield, and settled in for the day. REALLY chilly in the morning, especially with the wind in my face, but it gradually warmed up as the sun progressed higher in the sky.

BluMorph2LandingCorn

Snow geese landing
Snow geese landing

 

 

 

 

 

 

The secret to this stationary approach is to remain still and wait for the birds to approach, which they eventually did, finally grazing their way to within 30 or 40 feet of where I was seated. Then you just have to hope that someone else doesn’t come along, see you down at the birds level, and decide that would work well for them also. Of course, with as much traffic as there is here, eventually someone will come along, park, get out of their car and come hurrying down the bank to set up next to my position, and in the process, of course, scare the birds off. Discouraged ( and confused as to why the birds left ), that person will soon leave, and slowly, over the course of an hour or so, the birds slowly return, so, patiently, I spend the day mostly waiting. Not complaining, mind you, I can’t think of too many other things I would rather do on a beautiful day like this.

Sandhill crane family taking flight
Sandhill crane family taking flight
Snow geese in flight
Snow geese in flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting down to the bird’s level also provides a better background for their landing shots and for a nice mountain background of some of their takeoff and flight shots, instead of just a blank blue sky, giving a better sense of place to the images.

Sandhill cranes in flight
Sandhill cranes in flight
Sandhill cranes in flight
Sandhill cranes in flight

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, I just couldn’t dream up a better way to spend my last day here at Bosque del Apache NWR. I suppose you may be tiring of seeing so many crane and goose shots, so I will be leaving here for points south tomorrow. Please stay tuned!

Sandhill cranes in flight
Sandhill cranes in flight
Sandhill crane in flight
Sandhill crane in flight
Sandhill crane in flight calling
Sandhill crane in flight

 

 

 

 

 

Sandhill crane in flight at sunrise
Sandhill crane in flight
Snow geese in flight
Snow geese in flight
Sandhill crane in flight at sunrise
Sandhill crane in flight

 

 

 

 

 

Gambrel quail
Gambrel quail
Snow geese landing
Snow geese landing
Snow geese in flight
Snow geese in flight

 

 

 

 

 

Snow geese taking flight
Snow geese taking flight
Snow geese landing
Snow geese landing
Sandhill crane takeoff pose
Sandhill crane takeoff pose

 

 

 

 

 

Sandhill crane in flight
Sandhill crane in flight
Snow geese landing
Snow geese landing
Snow geese in flight
Snow geese in flight

 

 

 

 

 

Snow goose panic
Snow goose panic
Snow goose landing
Snow goose landing
Snow goose in flight
Snow goose in flight

 

 

 

 

 

Snow geese in flight
Snow geese in flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 30, 2013 Bosque del Apache NWR

SandhillFromBackLanding

More Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese

Yesterday afternoon the refuge opened up what they call the Northern Intermittent Loop Road, a four mile loop off the Northern Loop Road that provides access to more farmland area north of the Farmland Deck.

Sandhlll cranes and snow geese crowding a field
The crowd grows

Where I was previously amazed at the number of geese and cranes to be seen in the refuge, I now have to consider myself awed.

Snow geese feeding
Snow geese feeding

Apparently they cut down sections of corn field bit by bit over the winter months in this part of the refuge and the density of birds on these newly cut portions of field is something to behold.

It's getting crowded here!
It’s getting crowded here!

Every morning around sunrise thousands of birds fly in to this section of the refuge to forage for the day. First the sky fills with incoming geese and the sound is deafening.

Sandhill cranes in flight
Sandhill cranes in flight
Sandhill cranes coming in for a landing
Sandhill cranes coming in for a landing

Before long the sandhill cranes start arriving in groups of four or five to maybe a dozen, all calling as they circle to land or as they pass over sandhills on other fields that they fly over. These small groups of cranes just keep coming one after another for hours.

 

Goose explosion
Goose explosion

Several times a day, an unseen  coyote on the edge of the field or perhaps an eagle overhead, will spook the geese and a cloud of thousands of birds will erupt up out of the field, circle around overhead, and then land again or move on to another field. The small groups of cranes also are continuously on the move also going from field to field all day long.

Sandhill crane in flight at sunrise
Sandhill crane in flight
Sandhill crane landing
Sandhill crane landing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The action is pretty much non stop all day long until they all pull out at sunset to find safety in the roosting ponds around the refuge.

 

Sandhill crane squeezing in
Sandhill crane squeezing in

 How these cranes find space in the crowds to land is hard to figure at times.

The combination of calls from the thousands of these two species is hard to describe but is something everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.

Though I am there to take photos, I often have to stop and just take in the overall wonder of this place at this time of the year, the sounds, the gorgeous weather, the almost unbelievable number of birds flying overhead, what a place!

Snow geese in flight
Snow geese in flight
Snow goose in flight
Snow goose in flight
Blue morph in flight
Blue morph in flight

 

 

 

 

 

Sandhill cranes in flight
Sandhill cranes in flight
Sandhills and snows in flight
Sandhills and snows in flight
Sandhill crane landing
Sandhill crane landing

 

 

 

 

 

Sandhill crane coming in for a landing
Sandhill crane coming in for a landing
Sandhill crane chick and parent
Sandhill crane chick and parent
Javelina
Javelina

 

 

 

 

 

Blue morph snow goose landing
Blue morph snow goose landing
Snow goose in flight
Snow goose in flight
Blue morph snow goose
Blue morph snow goose

 

 

 

 

 

Sandhill cranes in flight
Sandhill cranes in flight
Sandhill cranes in flight
Sandhill cranes in flight
Sandhill cranes in flight at sunrise
Sandhill cranes in flight

 

 

 

 

 

Sandhill cranes in flight at sunrise
Sandhill cranes in flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 13, 2013 Bosque del Apache NWR

Snow geese in flight
Snow geese in flight

Since this was the first day since I have been here with an overcast sky, I drove into the refuge looking to perhaps get some snow geese shots without having to battle bright light on the white birds. Strange to go past the alfalfa fields where there were 6000 or more geese each of the last several days and not see even one single snow goose out there.

Snow goose explosion
Snow goose explosion

Turns out they all were hanging out around the “Flight Deck” grazing in the shallow water there.

Snow goose stretching
Snow goose stretching
Snow goose pair
Snow goose pair

 

 

 

 

 

I assume this relocation must have something to do with the change in weather, but who knows.

As always, just click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Snow geese feeding
Snow geese feeding
Snow geese landing
Snow geese landing
Snow geese landing
Snow geese landing

 

 

 

 

 

Snow goose pair
Snow goose pair
Blue morph wing stretch
Blue morph wing stretch
Snow Goose
Snow goose

 

 

 

 

 

Snow goose in flight
Snow goose in flight
Snow geese landing
Snow geese landing
Blue morph ( Snow Goose )
Blue morph ( Snow Goose )

 

 

 

 

 

Blue morph ( Snow Goose )
Blue morph ( Snow Goose )

 

 

 

 

 

Sandhill cranes against moon
Sandhill cranes against moon