Sunday, January 20, 2013

2012 California Road Trip
Part 1
Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

The first stop on our road trip was at the Bosque Del Apache national Wildlife Refuge which is located about 90 miles south of Albuquerque, NM on Highway US 25.  The refuge is the wintering sight for sandhill cranes and snow geese and other light geese.  There were an estimated 7500 sandhill cranes and 42,000 light geese on the refuge when we were there on November 18th, 2012.

 The sandhill cranes are a very large and majestic bird.  They stand 4 to 5 feet tall and make a very loud and distinctive sound, that can be heard for long distances.  You can hear these birds long before you actually see them.  On the ground they are remarkable, but it is when they take flight that their true beauty shines.

Sandhill Cranes

Here is a pair of cranes in synchronous flight.

This photo shows a crane, head in the air  making his loud call.

Here is a group of 4 cranes taking off above a shallow lake with lots of cranes still in the water.

Three cranes on the alert from something approaching from their left.

This photo shows a detailed close up of a single crane, beautiful red marking on the head.

This photo shows a large group of cranes feeding in a corn stubble field.

Back lite cranes reflected in water.

A single crane strutting in front of a large group of birds.

Cranes taking flight from large group of birds in a stubble field.

Snow Geese and Light Geese

When we read the bird count sign at the visitors center we were dumb-founded;  over 42,000 light and snow geese is a number that is hard to get your mind around.  However, when we pulled the car up to this lake and saw the multitude of geese on the water (almost covering the surface), that large number began to sink in.

This is just a portion of this pond and it is covered with snow geese.  From this point we could look left and right along the pond and see as many birds in each direction.  Absolutely remarkable.

Another small pond with a large number of light geese.

A light goose, call a blue phase lesser snow goose

A typical snow goose

A light goose sleeping, a Ross Goose. 

A light goose of the Blue Phase Lesser Snow geese species.

A snow goose swimming to deeper water.

We were visited by this high flying red tailed hawk.  I think he was on the hunt, scouring the country side for a tasty morsel.  There are lots of small animals on the reserve, such as rabbits, squirrels, and quail and other small birds.  I do not think he will have a problem finding his dinner!

We also saw a group of white tail deer on the reserve.  The buck stayed in the trees and I could not get a good shot of him, the several does just wandered across a canal from me and I was able to get several good shots.  This one was the best of the shoot.

Our next stop is the mission San Xavier del Baq, just south of Tucson, AZ.

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