Bosque del Apache in December: Beautiful sunny days, but a frigid 20 degrees at sunrise – layer upon layer of clothing, heavy down coat and hat and gloves, hand warmers and toe warmers. By afternoon, a balmy 60 degrees. We’re there in southern New Mexico for the thousands and thousands of migrating snow geese and sandhill cranes.
Sunrises to die for – 360 degrees of color – from orange in the east to pink and rose in the west, one day more stunning than the next. Into that brilliant color, the snow geese fly.
They land in the water by the thousands. Then after resting a while, they blast off, sometimes in one massive chaotic movement of ten thousand birds, more often in large sections, for distant fields to feed.
The sandhill cranes, which have spent the night in the pools along the road, take off one by one and in groups soon after the snow geese depart.
By 8:00 all is quiet at the pools. The corn fields where the cranes feed, the traditional place to watch them in the later morning, are more or less of a bust. While there are some birds, most are feeding in far off fields.
Personally, I find the farm along the road to San Antonio much more interesting in the mornings, with cranes feeding among the cows, and also among swarms of red winged black birds, which repeatedly rise up in a massive black stain on the blue sky, and then flatten out on the ground, only to rise up and flatten out again – so thick is the cloud of black birds that the cows are all but obscured.
Afternoons, the entertainment is the snow geese flying in to the main pond for a nap, and in the late afternoon their blast off anticipated by probably half-a-million dollars-worth of 500-and-600 mm lenses lined up along the shore.
And as afternoon turns to evening, a coyote feasts on a goose, barely patient with the annoying feathers that stick in his mouth.
For me, though, the highlight of each day is sunset at the crane pools as the sandhill cranes drop out of the sky, silhouetted against the setting sun.
All in all, from the unparalleled New Mexico sunrises and sunsets to the spectacular blastoffs and landings, an amazing time in an amazing place.
To view more Bosque photos, please visit my website LewisBogatyPhotography.com The Bosque del Apache Gallery is in the Birds & Animals Group.