December 4, 2012

Bosque del Apache

The Hubs and I love to get out and about, exploring our world. We've seen big cities, and will likely see more, but what we really love is the great outdoors.

Now, I'm not exactly an outdoors-woman. I'd be perfectly happy to... ahem... "camp" at the lodge. What I enjoy most is the hiking, and an opportunity to photograph the wildlife. And then I want to sit in front of the fire at my lodge, with a cup of hot cocoa, and a great book. This makes sense to me. 

Sleeping in a tent, with bears and spiders and God knows what out there? Not so much.

There are many places, no matter where you live, to explore the great outdoors. Heck, even if you're in Manhattan, get out and wander Central Park! There are always ways, you just have to look for the opportunity. 

A few hours from our home is a bird sanctuary. The Hubs and I have driven past it on various road trips, but never taken the time to stop. Until, our recent trip to Albuquerque where everything went wrong. Since we couldn't see what we were there for, we adjusted our plans to stop at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge instead. 

We enjoyed our short stop there so much, we decided to go back again during the winter months, when the Bosque is home to thousands of Sandhill cranes, snow geese, and a variety of other wildlife. Although we didn't attend the Festival of the Cranes, there were still thousands of birds to see every day. 

For my first visit back to the Bosque, I made the road trip with my gal pals, Abby and Becky. We left in the middle of the night, hoping to arrive in time for sunrise. 

We made it! 

The Flight Deck

Our journey began at the Flight Deck, just a short distance down the 12-mile tour loop. A thick fog blanketed the water, providing cover for the cranes we could hear, but couldn't see. Dozens of photographers were scattered in various locations around the loop. Avid bird watchers came armed with binoculars and cameras.

Photographers and bird watchers waiting for a glimpse of cranes 

The heavy fog prohibited even the most basic photography. We couldn't see the cranes with the naked eye, but we could certainly hear them calling to each other. Becky, Abby, and I were struggling with our disappointment. We had hoped to see the cranes take flight, a common occurrence at the Bosque.

Just as we were about to give up, shadowy figures emerged from the fog. The sun rose higher, clearing our line of sight.

The cranes! Rather than take flight, the birds were walking across the shallow water, in search of their breakfast.

Our excitement returned. Camera shutters clicked. Our middle-of-the-night, impromptu road trip had been worth it!

The plan was to stay for a few hours only, then return home. Becky was due back at work, and we were all running on very little sleep. Instead, we began the tour loop. How long could 12 miles really take, especially by car?  

Um... it takes a lot longer than you would think!

Every pull-off offered new views and different wildlife. The cranes weren't the only creatures awake. Snow geese, mule deer, hawks, eagles, and coyotes... these are just a few of the species we spotted.

Thousands of snow geese take flight 

Hours later, we finally started the journey home. Becky and I had plans to return later in the week, with the Hubs in tow. This time, I couldn't wait to see sunset at the Bosque!

I wasn't disappointed. Not only did we see sunset, but the sunrise as well. AND, I tried my hand at star photography for the very first time!

Highway 1, leading to Bosque del Apache 

Granted, it's not a perfect picture, but I think it's ok for my first time. The experience was the best part.  Driving into the middle of nowhere, in the dark, and listening to the coyotes howl... quite the adventure!

During the daylight hours, we spent more time photographing the birds. I quickly grew to envy some of my fellow photographers, with their giant lenses that could reach out and touch someone. My 18-250mm lens was a baby in comparison.

Lucky for me, the birds flew overhead so often, I had plenty of opportunity to capture their images.

A Sandhill Crane in flight 

The Hubs (without a camera) was enthralled with the birds too! The binoculars seemed permanently glued to his eyes. Several times, he referred me to The Big Year, a movie we recently watched together. I'm pretty sure he wants to try for a Big Year himself once he retires (If you're wondering what a Big Year is, check out the movie)!

He took a few breaks to film the birds. Their calls pierced the air, soothing at times and annoyed at others. When a coyote (or a stray human) came too close, the birds screeched their displeasure, even taking to the air at times. When not in sight of the birds, you could still sense their mood easily, simply by listening to the pattern of their calls.

The video shows the snow geese flying in at sunrise, a gorgeous sight.

After repeated trips to the Bosque, I can now say it's one of my favorite places we've visited. I might even let the Hubs talk me into that Big Year one of these days!

I'd love to show you all my photos from the trip. If you'd like to see more, be sure to check out the Facebook Photo Album!

As always,

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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Snow Geese in flight 



  1. Hello,

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?

    I look forward to hearing from you,


    1. Emily,
      I would be happy to answer your question. Feel free to email me at the address supplied in my profile. Thank you for your readership!