New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4

2016

Images from these last four series represent my fourteen year (so far) quest to convey my impressions of the Bosque del Apache, as Sandhills course through dimly-lit high desert winter skies, to-and-from the wetlands, during a 3 to 4 month period each winter.

Bosque del Apache<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache II<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache III<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache V<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache VII<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016

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New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4

2016

At higher elevation, the brisk, late-light winter air barely illuminates the ever-so-quiet wetlands tapestry for the arrival of incoming migrating water fowl in the lee of the mountains to the west.

Ten to fifteen thousand mildly honking, considerably larger Sandhill Cranes follow in the wake of  the tens of thousands of smaller but much more cacophonic snow geese…

And as the very last light descends, the wetlands regain their peacefulness — until the next morning’s very first light!

Bosque del Apache<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache II<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache III<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache V<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache VII<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016

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New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4

2012

During the coldest winter months, the Bosque del Apache’s diurnal rhythms are unbelievably consistent. At very first light the tremendous flocks of Snow Geese begin stirring, before rising in louder and larger groups that nearly blank out the sky, heading for adjoining grain fields to feed for the day; it’s only when no other creature can withstand the deafening din (transfering this bucolic scene into complete chaos), that the 12,000-to-15,000 Sandhills rise in smaller groups to also feed in the adjoining fields.

And then as the setting sun begins dropping behind the near western mountains, the enormous flocks of Snow Geese return, circling the wetlands before settling in for the night, followed more gradually by the larger, more majestic, and quieter Sandhills…

Bosque del Apache<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012 Bosque del Apache II<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012 Bosque del Apache III<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012 Bosque del Apache IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012 Bosque del Apache V<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012 Bosque del Apache VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012 Bosque del Apache VII<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012

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New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4

20XX

Following almost a month in Eastern Europe, I’m so glad to be back home in New Mexico’s high country, above 4,000′ elevation, which includes much of central and western New Mexico.

Always exhilarated by high-desert light, I’m starting off this year’s postings by re-visiting images of my favorite New Mexico locations, beginning with the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, which is fed by the Río Grande, 150 miles south of Santa Fe. Established in 1939, this is a protected migratory stop for thousands of snow geese and upwards of 15,000 Sandhill Cranes heading south in November, then returning north beginning in February for breeding season.

Early winter light warms the soft wetlands screened by the 7,000′ Chupadera Mountains immediately to the west; as the sun clears the mountains, thousands of Snow Geese’s cacophony builds until the Sandhills too, with their six-foot wingspans, begin to lift off in twos and threes, heading for the nearby grain fields to feed for the day before returning, as the sun sets, to the wetlands’ 2-4′ of water.

So, this will be the first of the 4 Bosque del Apache favorites.

Bosque del Apache<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache II<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache III<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache V<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache VII<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4

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Bosque del Apache V: Totems

2013

The initial challenge for me was to compose vertical slices of landscape within the camera vs. carving a vertical image out of an existing horizontal image. Either way though, it causes me to see differently, which is my objective. Limiting much of the surroundings enables me to emphasize verticality.

These eight totems, drawing from both approaches, are meant to provide a different perspective on one of New Mexico’s truly beautiful locations.

Marsh<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Snow Geese<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Sandhills<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Wetlands<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Bald Eagle<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Sandhill<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Cottonwood<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Sandhill II<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013

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Bosque del Apache V: Last Light

2013

As the last light falls on the bosque’s marsh grasses, the range of red-browns gradually fades against the Chupadera Mountains, leaving hardly any visible contrast with the tens of thousands of snow geese and sandhills that have now settled in, quieting with only occasional chatter.

Nearby grasses bordering a canal contrast ever more softly against the flowing water in the marshes. And then it becomes so quiet, no one would believe that only a few hundred yards away a vast carpet of migratory fowl await daybreak’s signal to once again awake, rise and fly out to the fields to feed.

Last Light<br>Bosque del Apache V: Last Light - 2013 Last Light II<br>Bosque del Apache V: Last Light - 2013 Last Light III[<br>Bosque del Apache V: Last Light - 2013 Last Light IV<br>Bosque del Apache V: Last Light - 2013

 

 

 

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Bosque del Apache V: Sunset

2013

As the sun begins to set, the daily ‘fly-in’ commences with the gradual return of all the snow geese and sandhills to the relative safety of the bosque’s 3-to-4 feet of water. Announcing their arrival with incessant honking as they circle and set down, the very low-angled light of sunset provides a dramatic backdrop.

Snow Geese Fly-In<br>Bosque del Apache V: Sunset - 2013 Sandhill Fly-In<br>Bosque del Apache V: Sunset - 2013 Chupaderas at Sunset<br>Bosque del Apache V: Sunset - 2013 Chupaderas at Sunset II<br>Bosque del Apache V: Sunset - 2013

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Bosque del Apache V: Overflight

2013

Tens of thousands of snow geese and as many as 15,000 sandhill cranes begin arriving mid-November to rest and refuel from their long southern migration flights. Most will stay until the end of January, spending each night safe from predators in 2-to-3 feet of marsh water. At dawn, the snow geese begin stirring; soon their honking and flapping of wings raises to such a din, flock after flock lift off, ‛flying out’ to the surrounding fields to feed. As the sun sets, they return to the wetlands for the night.

This time of year thousands of people are drawn to Bosque Apache to witness this twice daily incredible ‛sight, sound, and motion’ show, which is further enhanced by the low-angled winter sun as the birds circle against the 7,000′ Chupadera Mountains.

Sandhill Overflies Snow Geese<br>Bosque del Apache V: Overflight - 2013 Snow Geese Overflight<br>Bosque del Apache V: Overflight - 2013 Snow Geese Overflight II<br>Bosque del Apache V: Overflight - 2013 Snow Geese Overflight III<br>Bosque del Apache V: Overflight - 2013

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Bosque del Apache V: Sandhills Rising

2013

Each morning during their migration rest at Bosque del Apache, the Sandhill Cranes rise from fields flooded by 2-3 feet of water, where they are safe from predators. In groups of 3 to 10 they fly to nearby grain fields, where they spend the day feeding, only to rise again as the day fades and return to the safety of the wetlands for the night.

Weighing 8 to 10 lbs. and with a wingspan of up to 6 feet, Sandhills look ungainly while standing, but stretch into beautiful aerodynamic form with their powerful pumping wings slowly lifting them into the sky

 

Sandhills Rising<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013 Sandhills Rising II<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013 Sandhills Rising III<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013 Sandhills Rising IV<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013 Sandhills Rising V<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013
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What Are Totems?

Looking at a book on Alaskan Totem Poles a few years ago got me thinking that totems were panoramics turned on their end. (more…)

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What’s Up with Birds?

I must confess that my bird images started out, and continue even now, mostly to be a by-product of my landscape photography, which invariably involves a lot of waiting for the light. And waiting is not one of my strong suits. (more…)

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