Photographing at Bosque del Apache – Another World

I always wanted to photograph the Sandhill Cranes and light geese (Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese) at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. This desire arose from the passionate stories fellow nature photographers told me about the birds and the refuge. This included the “blast off”, an occurrence around sunrise when all of a sudden all the birds take off at once creating a colorful sky filled with birds.

When Kailani told me we had an open invitation from her friend in Albuquerque I knew it was time to visit. I arrived at the refuge on Saturday at 6:15am, with sunrise being at 7:15am. I was shocked to stand in line to get into the refuge. There was a line of wildlife photographers that stretched for a mile. This was wildlife photography I was not used to. It soon became obvious why this place is so popular. It provides easy access, birds that are not afraid of humans and spectacular action.

I was not let down by the blast off, wow was it just spectacular. The sound is truly like thunder, just amazing.

Snow Goose Blast Off at Sunrise

Snow Goose Blast Off at Sunrise

Snow Goose Blast Off at Sunrise

Snow Goose Blast Off at Sunrise

Snow Goose Blast Off

Snow Goose Blast Off

By Sunday I had figured out the routine, arrive early — this meant getting up at 2:30am in Albuquerque to arrive at the refuge at 4:30am to get the best flight deck spot. Then as soon as the flight deck take off is over head to either the feeding fields or the “crane ponds”. All of these places provide for amazing photographic opportunities. Due to the number of photographers it  forced me to create images that were different from the “standard” Bosque images, which I was quite thankful for in the end. I went for more abstract pictures including motion blurs and panning shots.

Sandhill Cranes behind Reeds

Sandhill Cranes behind Reeds

Sandhill Crane Taking Flight

Sandhill Crane Taking Flight

Sandhill Crane Flying

Sandhill Crane Flying

Snow Goose Flying

Snow Goose Flying

Of course I also could not resist doing a few silhouettes.

Silhouetted Sandhill Cranes Flying

Silhouetted Sandhill Cranes Flying

Silhouetted Sandhill Cranes Flying

Silhouetted Sandhill Cranes Flying

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