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The Many Birds of Bosque Del Apache NWR

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Back in November I went over to Bosque Del Apache NWR near Socorro, New Mexico for the Festival of the Cranes; its’ held every year to celebrate the arrival of the Sandhill Cranes to their winter home. I wanted to get the chance to photograph the Cranes, but the main draw was the many photography classes they offered and while I was there I took three different classes:

  1. Photo Editing with Adobe Lightroom
  2. Macro Photography
  3. Astro-Photography at the VLA (Very Large Array)

I had a great time while I was there! The classes were great and I fell totally in love with bird photography. I’d bought new photo equipment just for this trip and luckily everything went perfectly. I especially enjoyed shooting birds in flight and took every chance I could to do it.
I did a post of photos I took of cranes soon after,  but then we got to the holidays and then to the RTR and because of those interruptions I never did any other posts about the trip.  But next month I’m flying to Florida to visit my mom and while I’m there I’m going to do more bird photography and take another class so I thought I should finish the posts on last Novembers trip before I have more to share with you. So today we’re looking at different birds of the Bosque Del Apache NWR.
The landscape isn’t all that pretty there so I didn’t take any landscape photos, but it does have a large variety of birds. The single largest population is about 32,000 Snow Geese that tend to flock together in large groups. Most of these photos are of the flocks of them both on the lake and flying together. There are also lots of ducks and a fair number of birds of prey.  I’ve always been most interested in Eagles and hawks so I was a little sad that I didn’t get any better shots of them. My first attempt at photographing birds in flight was a hawk that was very close but because it was my first try I messed it up and they were all poor. I did get one shot that was okay but it had moved far away by then so it’s mediocre. One thing I’m looking forward to is getting more chances to shoot hawks and eagles in flight.
I’ve got to admit that I’m not a birder; I don’t have a life list nor do I have books to help me identify the many different species of birds. I think I’m a lot like most people and I’m fascinated by birds and love their beauty and freedom but I’m not interested in identifying them or “owning” them by keeping a list. However, I do love capturing their beauty on a photograph because it involves my whole being: 1) My mind in the technical details of the photograph 2) my body in the chase 3) my heart in the art and joy of the birds. Who hasn’t watched birds flying through the air and not been filled with wonder and envy at their grace, beauty and total freedom!?
So I hope you enjoy these photos of pretty birds–even if I have no idea what kind of birds they are!
crns-duck-landing crns-goose-tchdwn


  1. Sherry in MT

    Ahhh didn’t realize you were also a bird photographer. One of my favorite subjects for sure and now I know where all our snow geese go after they leave here in the fall. Flight shots are hard and especially a prize when you get them and yours turned out wonderful although my favorite of them all is the second to the last goose!

  2. raz

    i have a bird book for indiana. makes it easier to figure out whats at the feeder. we look for hawks and eagles. we only identify baldies. no lists. ever. sandys summer about 40 miles ne of us. some stay all winter. love the photos. practice, practice, practice.
    ice cream raz

  3. Ken Kelley

    Love taking photos of birds. They don’t always make the best “subjects”! Hard to photograph but work the effort. Nice work Bob!!

  4. Kathy

    Great bird photos! Thanks.

  5. Colvin Goree

    Nice photos, Bob. I love birds and bird pics, and these are very good. I think the “brown duck” shot is particularly tasty. Bosque Del Apache NWR is back on my list of places to visit.

  6. Douglas

    The white bird landing on the water with its wings up looks like it’s posing for you. Since I can remember, I have had an appreciation for nature and the wild.

  7. Douglas

    When I was going to tech school, i remember seeing large flocks of pigeons just all of a sudden scattering and flying around. I found out later that it was usually a hunting hawk. It seems the phoenix area has an abundance of hawks, due to the large population of pigeons. I wish the hawks would have come around my old house to get rid of the pigeons.

  8. Man On Run

    The concept of Freedom is so elusive and misunderstood…until you start birdwatching.

    • Bob

      Man on the Run, I couldn’t agree more! The amazing thing is that birds are also very smart. You hear about “bird brains” but in reality Ravens are actually very smart creatures, the learn, adapt and even use tools. If they have a nut they need to open, they’ll wait at a red light for the cars to stop, run out with the nut and put it under the front tire and at the next red light fly out and get the nut. Pretty smart!
      I wish I were like a Raven! No wonder many primitve tribes held them in very high regard.

  9. margo

    sooo i really hate birds (it’s something to do with being attacked by a rooster when i was 3, tho he did taste good when grandma fried him up, lol) but if i didn’t just freeze and not be able to move when being to close to one, i might become a bird watcher. those pictures were great! most people can take a nice picture but you inspire with your pictures! i think thats a rare and wonderful talent. thank you, margo

    • Bob

      Margo, I’m sorry for your childhood experience, but thank you very much for your kind words!

    • Bob

      Canine, it’s a wonderful sight seeing them in a flock taking off and landing. You gotta love it when they’re at the lake.

  10. Wendy Wunderlich

    Bob you always take such wonderful picures but I really like these the best so far.

    • Bob

      Wow, thank you Wendy! But I really don’t get much of the credit, my excellent camera made it easy, and my models are so stunning how far wrong can I go!

  11. DougB

    I enjoyed every one – except the hawk on the branch looking “Photoshopped”. That light halo around the edges of the bird and many leaves makes it look as if the bird was added into the photo. I don’t use Photoshop, so I can only guess that maybe Unsharp Mask was pushed too far. …And now I’m positive that you’re going to let me know that this one photo is the only one of the bunch that you never touched! At any rate, many of these are really excellent, and make me think you could stand to add a gallery page with some of the various photos that you like the best.

    • Bob

      Thanks Doug! Actually, I don’t use Photoshop at all, I’m not smart enough! All these photos were edited in Picassa, which is a free editing program from Google. I have bought and installed Lightroom and even upgraded my computer to handle it. But I haven’t had the time to learn it yet. One of these days!
      That shot was pretty heavily cropped and the light wasn’t good to begin with.

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