Snow Geese “panic” several times a day at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Panic is the word I use to describe the times when a contagion of agitation sweeps the flock and they all come up into the air at the same time…calling and swirling. Generally half of them think they ought to move west and half east, or half think they should circle clockwise and half counterclockwise, and the mixing and mingling segments of the flock is mesmerizing. To be there when the Snow Geese panic is reason enough for a visit to the Bosque…and, in fact, brings folks back year after year. It was gettin on toward sunset when my Point and Shoot Nature Photography workshop got to see this panic up close. Nothing like it! Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. My Birds in Flight modifications of Programed Auto mode. 1/1000th @ f6.3 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
Some sunsets at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro New Mexico, with the Sandhill Cranes coming in to roost in shallow water for the night, the light is just unspeakably beautiful. This crane was coming in toward the setting sun, and what it does to the wings is amazing. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. My custom Birds in Flight adaptation of Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
I always hope to see at least one Roadrunner while at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro, New Mexico during the Festival of the Cranes. Or rather, I am confident of seeing more than one, but I hope to see one close enough for photos. That is different. I had seen at least 4 before this one. In fact I saw one only a few hundred yards down the road, but it scuttled off into the brush as they do before I could get a photo. That put me on alert. Where there is one Roadrunner, there might be more. I slowed down a to a crawl, and sure enough, I spotted one on the edge of the road ahead. I pulled up as close as I dared and put the camera out the window and over the rear-view mirror and shot off a few frames just in case, and then I started inching forward to see if I could get up beside the bird. I got just about parallel before it turned and headed back toward the brush, but I got some over the shoulder looks when it stopped short of actual cover. Then it turned for the road again and ran up ahead of me to the edge. I was able to roll forward almost parallel again and got a few shots in full profile. The bird was on alert, with its crest raised, and provided a very satisfying image. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
One of the reasons to visit the Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro, New Mexico is how close you can get to the Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. This Sandhill was coming directly overhead, so close that I could not fit more than this in the frame at 600mm equivalent. That is close indeed. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. My custom Birds in Flight adaptation of Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
It has been one of the most spectacular weeks in memory at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and the Festival of the Cranes in Socorro, New Mexico. The birds are in and close, the light has been simply wonderful (even by NM standards, which is saying a lot), and there is a lot of action in the flocks. This “dance” is part of the year long mating ritual, and it is a behavior you will see if you spend any time watching cranes. Sony RX10iv in my customized Birds in Flight adaptation of Program Mode. Processed in Polarr.
Sandhill Cranes taking off in the early light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro New Mexico. This has been the best year in the past 10 years for birds and weather at Bosque. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
The dawn flyout at Bosque del Apache is one of the great wildlife spectacles of North America and this morning was one of those days that make it memorable. I was out with a field workshop of aspiring Point and Shoot Nature Photographers at the Flight Deck Pond just at sunrise this morning when the Snow Geese rose to go to their day feeding fields. Wonderful light. Amazing action. Shot with the Sony RX10iv in my specialized Birds in Flight mode adaptation of Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
The first days at the Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro New Mexico, the fields behind Coyote Deck were still dry. On Thursday they began to pump water in, and by Saturday there were at least 5000 ducks, mostly Mallards and Pintails, gathered to feed on the floating seeds and shoots. They flood those fields to bring Ducks and Cranes and Geese within easy viewing of Willow and Coyote Decks on the Festival weekend every year. Bosque del Apache is intensively managed all year for the wildlife, but during the Festival of the Cranes, yearly, for close to 30 years, they also manage for the people who come to view the wildlife. And, just as I always hope for a Snow Geese rising shot at Bosque, I have come to appreciate the “Ducks Away” experience off Coyote Deck. I watched the field flood daily and stopped along the road when I finally saw the congregation of ducks, and waited. Most years the ducks just continue to feed while I am watching, but they rise often enough to give me hope…like once in past 6 years 🙂 This year, as I stood there hopping from one foot to the other to keep warm, a Refuge truck came down the dike road on the inside of the tour loop and, as it passed, the ducks startled and took to the air. I had an intense few moments there until they settled again.
Sony RX10iii at 580mm equivalent field of view. Action and Flight mode (my own saved program). 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Snapseed on my Android tablet.
Sandhill Cranes mate for life, and only mate in late winter/early spring on their mating grounds far north of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro New Mexico (where this sequence was taken), but young Cranes and even adult pairs “practice” mating behavior year round. They don’t mate…they just practice. Or maybe “play” is a better word. This pair is either practicing or playing, and in season and on territory this would result in a mating. Hopefully these are young Cranes and they will get better at it with practice. If they continue to play around they will get the hang of it by spring. We can hope. (They can hope.)
Sony RX10iii at 454mm equivalent field of view. My memory BIF and action Program Mode. 1/1000th @ f6.3 @ ISO 100. Processed in Snapseed on my Android tablet and assembled in Pic Stitch.
Carol picked up movement way back in one of the fields at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge south of Socorro New Mexico as we drove the tour loop. It turned out to be a Coyote and we watched it come up the tree-line and then cross into the next field fairly close to the road. It stalked across the field to a group of Sandhill Cranes. I could not figure out what it was doing. Sandhills are not easy prey for coyotes…in fact, unless an adult is injured, and totally alone, no coyote stands a chance against a Sandhill Crane. They do take pults and eggs, but only on the rare occasions when they find them unprotected. The Cranes responded to the Coyote by coming toward it, in a group, sending a clear “don’t mess with us…we are ready for you” message. Eventually the coyote went round the front group, up a corridor between groups, and drove off a couple of ravens who were pecking at something dead far out in the field. When you are an omnivore, leftovers are better than food that fights back…especially standing Cranes.
Sony RX10iii at 494mm equivalent field of view. Program Mode. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 200. Processed in Snapseed on my Android tablet.
And a closer shot of the Coyote.