Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bosque del Apache NWR

I knew from the moment Danelle suggested it that my winter break road trip to Colorado would be fantastic. When I realized I could take a slight detour on the return trip home and drive down to Bosque del Apache, that just took my anticipation to another exciting level.

Reeds in the Wind, Bosque del Apache
For the first seven hours of the drive from Denver the skies were fantastic -- mostly sunny with just a few puffy clouds.  When we were just 40 miles away, the clouds got thick.  Way too thick.  We arrived at the visitor center a little after 1 p.m. with time running out for an improvement in the conditions.  For our first few hours there, the best shot I could muster was a somewhat abstract image of the wind blowing through some reeds along the Boardwalk Trail.

John P. Taylor, Jr. Memorial Trail, Bosque del Apache
Eventually we could see things starting to improve to the west.  And fortunately, the wind was blowing east.  The visitor center volunteers had recommended the John P. Taylor, Jr. Memorial Trail as a good place to potentially find sandhill cranes or snow geese.  The universe aligned as we got to the end of the trail and we got all three things we were looking for -- sunlight, cranes, and geese. :)

John P. Taylor, Jr. Memorial Trail, Bosque del Apache
A favorite tactic of mine -- turning around to see what's behind me -- worked fabulously after shooting the cranes and geese.  This lone tree stood on the edge of an irrigation canal with a beautiful mountain backdrop.

South Loop, Bosque del Apache
I made a mental note of the location where we saw the cranes and geese as a possible location to return for sunset, and we continued driving the loop road around the refuge.  The clear skies and light winds were now yielding lovely reflections in the various waterways.

Dabbling Ducks, Bosque del Apache
Dabbling ducks dabbling in their best synchronized-swimming style.

South Loop, Bosque del Apache
As the sun continued its descent and golden hour began, the landscape took on a delightful warm hue.

Red-Winged Blackbirds, Bosque del Apache
I did indeed return to my earlier vantage point at the end of the Taylor Trail for sunset.  One pleasant surprise was this huge flock of red-winged blackbirds ....

Javelinas, Bosque del Apache
... and another was a small family group of javelinas who emerged from the corn field and literally headed off into the sunset.

South Loop, Bosque del Apache
After gorging on shots of sandhill cranes until well after the sun went down -- which I'm devoting another entire blog post to -- we headed for home.  But the reflection of this tree off of open water between two frozen sections caught my eye and required an unscheduled stop first.

House Finch, Bosque del Apache Visitor Center
Sunday morning was devoted to geese, which I didn't do so well with.  From there I got a tip that the feeders at the visitor center would likely provide some good opportunities -- and definitely some warmer ones.  So that was our final stop.  We did see lots of action, including Gambel's quail, which was a first for me.  But shooting through the window went very poorly.  In the end, this house finch capture was my only decent effort.

More to come!

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