Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bosque del Apache

Sitting just off I-25, exit 139 to the east,highway 380 sits the small, dusty western town of San Antonio. It's one of those towns with one intersection, one blinking light, a gas station, a veggie stand and two of the most dyn-o-mite ever burger places. The Buckhorn Bar and Grill on the right side of the road and The Owl Cafe on the left side! We prefer the one called Owl Cafe. Both places were full of ambience, and both are worth a visit to test the burgers yourself! Well, back to the only intersection and the blinking light by The Owl Cafe, turn right! That is highway 1, and about 12 miles down the road is Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge. About 8 miles down the road, on the right, is Bosque Birdwatchers RV Park. It is the only nearby campground and can be found online. This is where Chuck and I and Emily camped a few weeks ago, it's not fancy but it's clean, affordable and nice campground hosts!

This week, I go alone! I just left Monticello behind me and Radar and I are visiting the refuge solo today!

As I pulled into the parking lot of the park office and gift shop to buy a ticket to tour the refuge, a loud screaming, squawking and unbelievable noise reached my ears from the other side of the road! The air erupted with Snow Geese! I quickly went in, got my ticket and entered the refuge and headed over to where the geese were going crazy!

Geese were everywhere! Gazillions of them! Loud, screaming, screeching, squawking geese! You can't even imagine the sound! Amazing!

Finally the sheer numbers started dwindling, the geese started settling down and quiet once again! They were so many Snow Geese I could not have even imagined there would be this many! I have heard that because of the drought out here in the west, that many more birds are here this year than in previous years.
Bosque del Apache manages over 1,900 acres of wet lands, bringing in water from the nearby Rio Grande river. The water is channeled into canals that travel all through the refuge.

In the 1940's, mountain lions, coyotes and prairie dogs were considered "nuisance animals", today. coyotes have the run of the refuge, mountain lions are being studied and prairie dogs have been re-introduced and today there exists a population of nearly 100 elk.


An explosion of ducks!

The ducks were always exploding into the air! I had very few pictures of them calm in the water and of those, all the ducks were bottoms up like this one!  I don't know my ducks, but there were a lot of different kinds all being sociable with each other and sharing lake space!


Close to 18,000 cranes winter at Bosque del Apache every winter! Thw skies, the water, the fields are full of beautiful cranes! Each year the refuge has "Festival of the Cranes". A week long celebration of the beautiful bird, complete with classes, art shows, craft fairs and guided tours happens mid-November.

Cranes were everywhere you looked! In the air,

they are just such majestic birds.... so full of grace...

Whether coming in for a landing... 
or on the ground, the tall bird always seems to look intelligent, graceful, beautiful and photogenic !!

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