Bosque and Monte – Twin Refuges

SHCwading_BDA_xl

Sandhill cranes wade in shallow water before taking flight from roost. Bosque Del Apache NWR, New Mexico

refuge |ˈrefˌyo͞oj, -ˌyo͞oZH|
noun
a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble

Bosque Del Apache national Wildlife Refuge is known as one of our top birding locations for the thousands of sandhill cranes, ducks, snow geese and other waterfowl that winter here. The Rio Grande flows through it, riparian refuge in a parched landscape on the northern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert. Long before it was designated by Congress, the Rio Grande ran wild, spilling over its banks during the summer monsoon, creating marshes and tall grasses that were refuge for migrating waterfowl. Today, the river is controlled and developed to its banks for much of its length, so we have to help the birds by recreating the flooded marshes that give waterfowl a place to roost and protection from predators. I remember my first morning standing on the observation deck that overlooks the wetlands; it was about 8 degrees fahrenheit with a slight breeze and folks were pouring in to the refuge for a spot on the observation deck and lining the banks, whispering in hushed, excited tones. It was freezing cold and exhilarating and I was completely unprepared for the explosion of tens of thousands of snow geese against a backdrop of a brilliant orange and blue sunrise. Each time I came back I was stunned, somehow not completely ready. Continue reading “Bosque and Monte – Twin Refuges”

Bosque!

bosque del apache, sandhill cranes

Cranes Wading : Prints Available

In early morning light, these sandhill cranes wade from their night roost before taking flight to graze in nearby fields. Bosque Del Apache is a well-known birding location, particularly for winter waterfowl. The refuge is winter range for sandhill cranes of the Rocky Mountain Population, which migrate from Bosque to Greater Yellowstone (with stops in Colorado) in spring, returning in fall. 

 

Grus canadensis

 

A long awaited trip to Bosque Del Apache finally became a reality this year and this world-class refuge lived up to the hype. I made the trip to photograph the Rocky Mountain Population of sandhill cranes on their winter range. They’ll stay here until late February, then start their migration north, making a couple of stops in Colorado, eventually dispersing throughout Greater Yellowstone in April. They return to Bosque in autumn. It’s a journey they’ve made for millions of years and they need us to conserve critical habitat for their long-term survival. Long live sandhill cranes! More images follow Continue reading “Bosque!”