Bosque del Apache New Mexico December 2016
Fiery sunrises, glowing sunsets, and warm golden light define Bosque del Apache. Thousands of Sandhill Cranes and tens of thousands of Snow Geese grace this wetlands landscape in a way that is both primordial and ancient and at the same time elegant and vital. Perpetual raucous trumpeting of Sandhill Cranes and the roar of thousands of Snow Geese taking flight is a wondrous natural display. Creative photography opportunities are endless and the beautiful constantly changing light afford everything from silhouettes to sharp flight images.
Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) remain calm as thousands of Snow Geese erupt to flight. I used a shutter speed of 1/15 second to intentionally blur and accentuate the chaos of the moment as the flock of Snow Geese explode from the pond. The Cranes were basically motionless throughout the event and my hope was that they would remain sharp within the image. Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, December 2016. Canon 5D III, 500 mm f/4 IS, ISO 400, 1/15 second @ f/11, image size 5760 x 3375 pixels. Click on the image for a larger rendition.
At sunrise, a Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) dances across the water in anticipation to fly. Although large and heavy, Cranes are elegant and nimble. Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, December 2016. Canon 5D III, 100-400mm IS II, ISO 800, 1/1250 second @ f/5.6, image size 4430 x 2828. Click on the image for a larger rendition.
Established in 1939, Bosque del Apache is a 57,000 acre National Wildlife Refuge located 100 miles south of Albuquerque and about 15 miles south of Socorro, New Mexico. Tens of thousands of migratory birds, song birds, raptors, and mammals including cougars, bobcats, and coyotes make a living at this refuge. Bosque del Apache means woods of the Apache (Indians) as they frequently camped and hunted in this cottonwood forest habitat. The refuge is situated along the Rio Grande River in New Mexico and consists of thousands of acres of irrigated and flooded pools, ponds, and lakes. The rich soil supports an abundance of invertebrate nutrition and surrounding farm fields of corn and alfalfa provide sustenance for the snow geese, sandhill cranes, and thousands of ducks and waterfowl that call Bosque home during the winter months. The birds that occupy Bosque del Apache during the winter arrive in November from as far as the Arctic Circle and they remain until spring at which time they again migrate north to their breeding grounds. The time tested cycle of migration is a testament to the miracle of biological systems and species survival.
At sunrise, Snow Geese (Chen caurulescens) take flight from their nightly roost to feed in surrounding fields. During the night, Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes remain safe from predators by roosting on water. Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, December 2016. Canon 5D III, 100-400mm IS II, ISO 3200, 1/80 second @ f/5, image size 5753 x 2690 pixels. Click on the image for a larger rendition.
Warm light and the constantly changing hues of orange, pink, and purple is perhaps the most alluring aspect of Bosque del Apache. I would suggest that the landscape graces the wildlife and it is no wonder that the Apache people wanted to dwell in this inspiring place.