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