Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hunkered down in Socorro, NM

Blastoff at Bosque
Currently hunkered down Thursday afternoon in Socorro at the RV park waiting out the high winds along with others in the same boat (or similar motorcoach, anyway). High winds gusting up to 50 and we have our slideouts slid in to protect the awnings from wind damage. Good time for shower, lunch and blogging while I await the beginning of the 4 day photo workshop later in the day.

Cranes Landing for breakfast
Morning came around 4 AM as it will for next 4 mornings also as we arose early to great the geese and cranes at Bosque when they took off in search of food.  Called the "Blast-off" and is unlike anything I have seen before.  We arrived at the Bosque del Apache Flight deck observation platform around 5:45 AM with sunrise expected around 6:30.  However, the birds don't wait for the sun rays to great them.  Dawn beckoned in the east slowly and we could see some good clouds along the lower part of horizon portending potential good things.  As you can see on the left, we were not dissapointed.  We heard the snow geese honking and rustling and the cranes trumpeting their unique sounds.

Red Tail Hawk thinking about food.
By 6:15 the observation platform was full of photographers waiting and taking pics of the increasing color in the sky reflected on the pond before us. Soon, the rustling of the geese increased and suddenly, WHAM! they were off in the air.  hundreds, even thousands of them took off, flying every which way, circling in group, flying by.  Wow.  The cranes nonchalantly stayed calm, cool, collected, not yet ready to ascend the morning skies in search of breakfast.  I marveled at this morning ritual as ageless as the species of birds we viewed.  I have been told the flocks are less then previous years by veteran photographers, although the visitor's center staff begs to differ.  perhaps they will come later, perhaps they went elsewhere in search of food.  Still hundreds, if not thousands of birds flying in the air is truly amazing.

Snow Goose landing
Later in morning we cruised around the farm loop north of the blast off location in search of birds feeding in the in the fields.  Last night I had made the acquaintance of another photographer, Harry, who told be of a good spot to watch the cranes land with sun at our backs.  We drove there and spent over an hour shooting birds and they would come in hoping to catch the right light, right focus and right angle.  I shot over 400 photos this morning.  Back is sore because I wasn't using a tripod, merely tracking them as they descended the skies.

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It was most interesting to watch how the geese and cranes landed.  The way they moved their wings and wingtips.  Amazing

White Crowned Sparrow
Then enroute back to motorhome we saw this little White Crowned Sparrow
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