Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Bidding Farewell to Bosque

Fellow volunteer friends reported last week that the cranes have now left Bosque del Apache for the season to head north.  What a great winter we had together!

Cranes are so predictable.  Just before they fly, they stretch their necks out towards the direction they wish to fly and then, within a few more seconds, take off!

In January, the counts of cranes and geese at Bosque appeared to be much lower than normal.  Some of it was due to the unusually warm winter, and some found sufficient food and lodging in northern parts of the valley (so no need to fly further south to Bosque).

The New Mexico state wildlife conservation area in Bernardo, about 40 miles north of Bosque, was one such hangout.  It's not much more than a corn field, a viewing blind, and a small dirt road around the perimeter.  Bernardo lacks the wildlife diversity and natural beauty of Bosque, but if you only wish to see cranes and geese, Bernardo is an easy stop just off I-25.

Cranes and geese were not the only ones looking for good food north of the Refuge-- us humans often made northerly outings as well.  The El Camino in Socorro was a reliable spot-- an "always-open" diner with good American and Mexican fare, and a time-warp 1960's interior to match its retro neon sign!

Closer to the refuge, I would occasionally suspend my vegetarian diet for a green chile cheeseburger at either of San Antonio's two famous burger bars-- The Owl (where these burgers were apparently invented back in the 1940's)...

and the Buckhorn Tavern, where every other Monday night featured a great local Blues band (including the tavern's owner who played a mean harmonica!)...

This week, the remaining winter volunteers will be packing up to leave Bosque and scatter in a dozen different directions.  Perhaps even more than the wonderful wildlife, what made this place so special this year were the people and our shared experiences.

From our first week together for field training back at the end of October...

to many fun weekly potlucks, where after dinner, the other volunteers would teach me some useful stuff like how to travel across Australia for a year.... or even how to play poker!

One of my final assignments was to get a few photos of volunteers in action for the refuge managers to use in various presentations, etc.  It's hard not to see the heartfelt joy that each person brought to their daily job!

From unlocking the doors to the Visitor Center in the morning...

To raising the flag up the flagpole...

To opening the outside fee booth...

Having great conversations with visitors, both outdoors....

and indoors...

Leading tours to inspire visitors to learn even more about the Refuge and the wildlife that inhabits it....

Roving the Refuge to assist visitors, restock pamphlets, pick up trash, and observe/report new wildlife sightings...

And, closing up shop at the end of another great day...

The big flocks have now flown for the season.  Big flocks of photographers gathering at the crane ponds each night at sunset....

and big flocks of snow geese trying to outrun a late winter storm....

I set sail from Bosque a couple weeks ago and am now headed back to Baja for a month to walk a few sandy beaches and continue my quest for the ultimate fish taco.

I'm planning to return to Bosque next February (2017) to re-experience the Spring migration.  Until then, I'll keep these images etched into my mind... the tranquility (and sounds) of ancient cranes flying over colorful New Mexico skies, and the gorgeous light that bathes the bosque each evening just before sunset.  Until next time!


  1. Wowza how magnificent a place ane experience! I'm thrilled for you......

  2. Love your blog, especially enjoyed all the info in your last post...and these photos, beautiful...thank you

  3. It certainly would be something to see all the birds take flight on their Spring Migration - would not want to be under them without an umbrella? They geese are going north, you're going south :) Enjoy the beaches!

  4. Your photos are just gorgeous, as usual. Sounds like you had a great time there this year. Looking forward to beachy photos now and maybe a few tacos shots!

  5. So many cranes! We get excited up here to see just one or two in the summer.

  6. Beautiful photos. I have a wooden crane figure in the RV, one of the few things I kept from my house.

  7. Love the amazing photos. Can't wait to follow your Baja adventures!

  8. Great photos as usual, Lynn. I'm really glad you enjoyed your time at the Bosque and I think you will enjoy it next time you get back. Hope you're having fun wherever you are right now.

  9. Wonderful photos, as ever. You certainly capture the beauty of whatever you see and share it with us. Thank you for all your blog with all these great photos and so much information. Bosque does seem like the migrations would be a spiritual experience there.
    Regarding Baja - I hope to get there, too, someday. It has been on my bucket list. Is it a safe place? I would feel more comfortable going with a group.
    Happy Trails and thank you again for your superior blog.
    Pamelab in Houston

  10. Oh Lynne! Your bird photos are magnificent!
    Bet it was difficult to say good-bye to everyone.
    Hope you are having a marvelous time!

  11. Wow! Your photos are breathtaking! So fine. Thank you so much for the vicarious ride (again) you've taken me on. Love it all. Bless you - safe travels to Baja.

  12. Wow! Your photos are breathtaking! So fine. Thank you so much for the vicarious ride (again) you've taken me on. Love it all. Bless you - safe travels to Baja.

  13. Wow! Those are some beautiful photos !!!


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