Bosque del Apache, Jan. 29 & 30, 2020, #1


The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (BdA) is a wetland located alongside the Rio Grande, just south of San Antonio, NM, in the central part of the state. In New Mexico, the Spanish word “bosque” usually refers to riverside groves of cottonwood trees. “Apache” needs no explanation.

My every visit to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is a soul-stirring experience of the plenitude and magnificence of Nature. While we no longer have millions of bison on the plains, or the skies full of passenger pigeons, we do have thousands of sandhill cranes and light (snow and Ross’s) geese crowding their winter roosts at BdA. Add to that the other birds and animals that fill the refuge and the fact that all the creatures that inhabit or visit the refuge are remarkably habituated to humans and their vehicles. This makes the refuge an open-air exhibit of unconfined animals, which borders on the unique in this part of the world. What else? There are the calls and cries – the din –  of the cranes and geese,  as they arrive or depart from their night-time roosts. This element adds considerably to the spectacle. Here is a video of sandhill cranes calling in the evening.

My wife Kathy and I stayed at the very conveniently situated Chupadero RV Park.  From there to the Wetland Roost was a 2 -3 minute drive! The RV Park also has its own small group of cranes and a flock of widgeons had chosen to hang out on a pond that borders the park’s main field, where they feed. We spent two nights there, which afforded us two each of morning and evening flights and the day in-between.

RVParkCranes900DSC_0303.jpg

At Chupadero RV Park, view to the east

RVParkCrane&Widgeons900DSC_0307.jpg

A sandhill crane and a flock of widgeons, Chupadero RV Park

The sandhill cranes, light geese, many ducks, bald eagles, harriers and others are winter migrants from points north. The cranes and geese are best seen at both dawn and dusk, when they leave their roosting ponds to fly to fields where they feed on grain crops, and when they return for the night, respectively. Photographers line up alongside the favored ponds at these times.

My photos of the cranes and light geese are presented in Part 2. In this part I present some scenes from the refuge, and some of the other birds and animals we were fortunate to encounter.

Scenes

00.Boardwalk900PixDSCN4659.jpg

The boardwalk in the South Loop, view to the southeast

0.Pond900PixDSCN4537.jpg

The big North Loop pond, from the Flight Deck

00.ViewEast900PixDSCN4537.jpg

The big North Loop pond and mountains to the east

00.WetlandsSunset900DSCN4545.jpg

The Wetland Roost pond, view to the southwest

SunsetReflection900DSC_0158-denoise.jpg

The Wetland Roost in evening, view to the northwest

Snag900DSCN4662.jpg

Snag

Birds and Animals

RavenOnGoose900DSCN4620.jpg

Raven on a dead goose

Roadrunner900DSCN4702.jpg

Roadrunner

Roadrunner900DSCN4705.jpg

same as above

Shoveler900DSC_0300.jpg

Northern shoveler duck

Shoveler900DSCN4613.jpg

same as above

Shovelers900DSCN4595.jpg

Group of northern shoveler ducks

Widgeons900DSCN4540.jpg

Widgeons

2Coyotes900DSCN4647.jpg

This pair of coyotes are keeping an eye on the dead goose seen above

CoyoteInPond900DSCN4634.jpg

This coyote decided to test out the approach to the goose …

CoyoteInPond900DSCN4639.jpg

… but eventually returned to land

1Crane&Coyote900DSCN4622.jpg

Coyote licking his chops. Hunters (yes, they are legally hunted) call the sandhill “the ribeye of the sky”

Bobcat900DSCN4695.jpg

Bobcat

Bobcat900DSCN4696.jpg

same as above

The bobcat seen above first approached us on the far side of a canal, then crossed on a bridge to the side we were parked on, and then walked right past us, to cross another bridge and then follow a new canal. The bobcat passed within a few feet of Kathy, who didn’t utter a sound, while I was looking the other way.

While on the boardwalk, an American bittern flew towards us and landed in the cattails no more than 75′ away. This was a new bird for us.

AmericanBittern900DSCN4681.jpg

American bittern, in cattails

AmericanBittern900DSCN4667.jpg

same as above

GreatBlueHeron900DSCN4729.jpg

Great blue heron

GreatBlueHeron900DSCN4731.jpg

The heron noticed something, and a moment later grabbed a bug

Also seen from the boardwalk were a few pied-bill grebes:

Pied-billGrebe900DSCN4689.jpg

Pied-bill grebe

Pied-billGrebe900DSCN4691.jpg

Pied-bill grebe

Along with mallards, pintails, northern shovelers and widgeons were the most common ducks. A few buffleheads were also seen.

Pintails900DSCN4552.jpg

Pintail ducks

Pintail&Shoveler900DSCN4637.jpg

Northern shoveler (left) and pintail duck

Pintail&Shoveler900DSCN4638.jpg

Pintail duck and northern shoveler

DeerCranes900Nov172014_3508.jpg

Deer

BuffleheadPairGeese900Nov172014_3496.jpg

Light geese and female buffleheads

 

End Part 1

 

 

 

 

 

About Evensteven

I am a photographer and author, and live in Embudo, New Mexico, alongside the Rio Grande. I have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: The Grand: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447 I have also published six additional iBooks: 1. The Salt River: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-salt-river/id12449222822. 2. Coyote Buttes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/coyote-buttes/id1271773201 3. Four Cornered, the Land: https://books.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered/id1384038899 4. Four Cornered, The Rivers: https://books.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered-book-two-the-rivers/id1402287568 5. Rio Marañon: https://books.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered-book-two-the-rivers/id1402287568 6. Rio Grande: https://books.apple.com/us/book/rio-grande-new-mexico/id1469126321
This entry was posted in Birding, Nature, New Mexico and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s