Experiencing winter bird migration, 2008 travel blog

The arid part of the Bosque

Town named after a TV show of the 60s

Sandhill cranes and ducks on the floodplains

feeding cranes

ducks on the lake

Canada geese

Cranes and a hawk

Geese in the wetlands

Stark winterscape

feeding in the water


cranes everywhere

Snow geese in flight

Geese, cranes and blackbirds

panicked geese

We headed north to The Bosque del Apache where we spent the day surrounded by birds. Our path took us past the town of "Truth or Consequences", originally named Hot Springs. The residents thought the name too common so renamed after it after a TV show of the '60s.

Situated against the backdrop of the Chupadera Mountains, the heart of the Refuge is made up of moist bottomlands, the Rio Grande's active floodplain, extensive wetlands created with diverted water, farmlands and riparian forests. The rest of Bosque is made up arid foothills and mesas. Most of these desert lands are preserved as wilderness areas.

Bosque Del Apache is the most spectacular national wildlife refuges in North America and one of the premier places to see and photograph the teeming populations of wild birds. Here tens of thousands of birds, like Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes, gather each autumn and stay through the winter. While others, like the raptors, are there to prey on those birds. And still others are part of the year round population.

A spectacular sight is seen when feeding snow geese erupt in an explosion of wings when frightened by a stalking coyote or a diving raptor.

It's amazing to think that in 1939, when the refuge was established, the crane count averaged a sobering 17. That figure has since soared to 17,000. Add that to 30,000 snow geese, 20,000-plus ducks, endangered whooping cranes, Canada geese, Gambel's quail, pheasants, roadrunners, and more than 300 other winged species and a banner birding site is created.

Several species of reptiles, amphibians and fish and mammals including coyotes, mule deer, and elk occur on the refuge as well.

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