Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico is one of the premiere wild-bird locations in North America. Late every fall bird watchers, photographers and wildlife lovers come from all over the world to view thousands and thousands of ducks, Sandhill Cranes and Snowgeese who are in the midst of their winter migration. Bosque del Apache is a 60,000 acre preserve along the Rio Grand River. There are many, many ponds, large cottonwood groves and other woodlands and many acres of corn planted specifically for the birds.
November is usually the peak month to view this annual spectacle of cranes, geese and ducks of all kinds. Since the Bosque is right down the road from us, we almost always plan a visit in late November, usually around Thanksgiving. Right now is the time to plan a trip to the Bosque del Apache. The numbers of birds peak in late November and December. Late November is usually best.
We usually plan the trip so we arrive in Socorro at about noon. We get a motel room there, have lunch and then drive out to the refuge. There is also a very nice RV park just before you enter the refuge itself.
This is a good time to figure out where you want to be at sunset to watch the birds as they fly in for the night. There is also a very nice visitor center where you can talk to the rangers about the best viewing sites, browse the great book selection and look at the exhibits. Be sure to pick up a map of the refuge. There are also hiking trails at several locations around the Bosque.
For a long time nothing special happens at sunset and then suddenly the birds start dropping down from the sky by the hundreds and then by the thousands and sometimes by the tens of thousands. This is an absolutely unforgettable experience. The bird calls, the setting sun, and the thousands of birds dropping out of the sky all around you are a truly magical.
The big event at dawn is what is called the lift-off. First one or two birds will fly off into the sky, and then a few more and then suddenly every bird in the pond, often thousands, will explode into the dawn sky, with a tremendous roar all at the same moment. This doesn't always happen quite so dramatically but often it does. And when it does, it is one of the most beautiful, exhilarating things you will ever experience. The whole atmosphere of quiet rosy dawn, the subdued honking and gabbling of the birds and then boom, the sky explodes with birds lifting off into the dawn in a glorious spectacle you will never, ever forget.
As you head around the loops thru ponds, cornfields, open woods and meadows there will be all kinds of beautiful views of birds flying, landing, circling and posing for you. From dawn until maybe 10:00 you will find some of the best bird viewing and photographing you could ever hope for.
9670, Three Cranes and Water, Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
9689, Bosque del Apache, Purple sunset with trees, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico
9692, Dawn Crane Silouettes
9669, Sandhill Cranes and Blue Sky
Sandhill Crane and Cornfield, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico
9742, Two Bald Eagles and Snag, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico