In early January I was lucky enough to travel to New Mexico’s Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. I attended the Photography Intensive Workshop put on by the Friends of the Bosque del Apache. The workshop was lead by three amazing photographers: Steve Gettle, Keith Bauer and, Don Toothaker. The refuge is a winter stopover for thousands of sandhill cranes and snow geese, as well as many species of duck and waterfowl.

About Bosque del Apache

The refuge is over 57,000 acres in size and is located about two hours south of Albuquerque along the Rio Grande. It is situated between the Chupadera Mountains to the west and the San Pascual Mountains to the east. The refuge is made up of moist bottomlands, active floodplain, wetlands, farmlands and riparian forests, as well as arid foothills and mesas. Spectacular scenery made even more remarkable by the abundant wildlife.

An Unforgettable Experience

The most incredible experience I had while visiting Bosque del Apache was witnessing the dawn fly out of the geese and cranes. Just as the sun rises over the horizon, thousands of snow and Ross’s geese take flight en masse. They leave the ponds they have taken refuge in for the night in search of food. The noise of their wings and ceaseless squawking is something I will never forget. At the same time, small groups of sandhill cranes free themselves from the ice and start to take flight. They will spend the day in the fields feeding. Then, just as the sun sets, they fly back into the ponds for the night.

As well as thousands of geese and cranes, I was lucky enough to see mule deer, jack rabbits, coyote, roadrunners, bufflehead, pintail, common merganser, green-winged teal, coots, mallards, northern shovelers, great blue herons, grebes, lesser yellowlegs, killdeer, meadowlarks, red tailed hawks, northern harrier, American kestrel, raven and bald eagles.

An incredible trip! One that has left me with many wonderful memories and a longing to return.