Saturday, December 15, 2012

Festival of the Cranes

I finally made it to the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, along with 42,000 Snow Geese, 6,500 Cranes and 2 Eagles, but who's counting..Who was counting? 

Having never been to New Mexico, the entire landscape was alien, so along with birds to be seen there was landscape literacy to be obtained.. Of course there is never enough time..and so many birds..and a plethora of interesting festival activities.. not all at the refuge & not all birding..This post focuses on  birding activities..

First up was a bird-spotting cruise on Elephant Butte lake..yes, butte..stop laughing... This is a man-made reservoir used by New mexico, Northern Mexico and Texas.

That is an Elephant's Butte in the distance.
The birds were mostly in the distance too, and since water levels were very low, we couldn't get much closer.. We spotted birds..lots of Eared Grebe spots,  a Great Blue Heron or two surveying the scene from far, far away..and White Pelican dots..There were also thousands of Western Grebes and some Clark's Grebes too (I was told)..

Western Grebe near the dock, willing to pose.

After the cruise, lunch and a guided riparian (river) walk along a Rio Grand tributary. Cactus Wren, Canyon Wren, Bewicks Wren, Ladder Back Woodpecker and Phainopepla were all life-birds..

Water levels were low.

Prickly Pears were high in the air.

Life bird! Phainopepla.

Meanwhile, back at the refuge..

Some of the 42,000 Snow Geese.

A Snow Goose Blue Morph.
Fly By...

                                            Fly In... 

Sandhill Cranes at Sunset.

If you go to this not take a bus tour.. We carefully chose one we thought would bus us to walk/watch.. Like going to the fly in..but we were only let out twice..and that is frustrating..especially for photographers..

From the bus....

Allowed out on a dock for some ducks.
Female Shoveler.

Another release..for the Sandhill Cranes at a corn field..seems these birds do not just volunteer for the festival, but are lured by corn planted expressly for them..and of course they are helped to survive.

                        Meet the Crane family.

Bye bye!

That afternoon I hopped into my car and took a whirlwind tour of the refuge on my own..Here are some highlights..

Ha, ha yes! Just who I wanted to see!
An  odd duck.. Blue headed Mallard.

Sleepy Shovelers.

Beautiful Pintails.

                                               Time flew...

The best bird was in the parking lot. Gambel's Quail.

The bird of time has but a little way to fly, and lo, the bird is on the wing~Omar Khayyam, "The Rubaiyat"


  1. Wow!!!! That was beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you..and thanks for stopping by!

  2. Holy Goodness! All the color in that shot you have of the cranes in the corn field is incredible. Despite your enforced bus habitation, you have managed to pull off some great images! Thanks!

    1. I was surprised just never know..Thanks for kind comment!

  3. Looks like a bird paradise! Great images too~

    1. Thanks for stopping by, & your comment!

  4. Wow! How lucky are you to have taken all this in, thank you for sharing it with us.
    Just beautiful and you are so right, that is a lot of birds and scenery to take in.

  5. Wow! So many great photos! The Phainopepla
    and quail are interesting looking species. Love the photos of the grebe and blue morph Snow Goose!

  6. Hey Larry.. thanks! It was a great experience!

  7. Looks like an amazing trip, Cindy. I just love your photos - you captured the "West" feel with striking bird images. LOVE the snow goose one with the gorgeous sprawling tree in the background.

  8. Amazing wildlife and beautiful colours! Congratulations for getting these superb images!
    Happy New Year!

    1. Better late than never I hope..Happy New year to you too!

  9. I'm late to the party, but this is a wonderful post. I really enjoyed seeing familiar NM places through your eyes. It was a treat to meet you while you were here. Please visit NM again!

    1. I'm even later in saying thank you! Of course the best part of the trip was meeting you!

  10. Very nice, Cindy. It sure must have been frustrating to be stuck in that bus, but you got some great photos. Nice place to visit! And a life bird too! And you got to meet @LRockwellatty too!

    1. Very cool to see that nice photo of you! Thanks for stopping by! Of course the best part of the trip was meeting @lrockwellatty :-)