Monday, November 26, 2007

Visiting Bosque del Apache NWR

We spent yesterday visiting the very cool city of Santa Fe. It's very artsy with lots of craft vendors and people peddling their wares on the street. Last night we arrived in Socorro, our launching pad to the famed Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. This morning we made our first trip out to the refuge.

On the road into the refuge, every telephone wire had a bird on it - shrikes, kestrels, doves, Western Meadowlarks, and Red-tailed Hawks. A beautiful Harlan's Hawk (dark-morph red-tail) was a sight to behold.

The refuge is simply beautiful. The sky was constantly filled with birds - thousands of ducks, geese, cranes, and crows. In fact, there was a constant stream of crows and ravens at one viewing platform that didn't end in the 30 minutes we spent there.

We drove the 12-mile auto tour, stopping along the way to take photos and see what new birds we could find. We were treated to all types of ducks from the diving Hooded Mergansers to dabbling Northern Shovelers. We also saw Eared Grebe, a distant "Western"-type Grebe, and more coots than I've ever seen. You couldn't throw a rock without hitting a White-crowned Sparrow too. You also couldn't throw a rock without hitting a photographer. When they say that Bosque is one of the most photographed refuges, they're not kidding. Photographers outnumbered birders 20-1.

We went to lunch at the famous Owl Bar & Cafe where we had great green chile cheeseburgers. Outside of the refuge, I had been tipped off to a spot to find longspurs. I found a Chestnut-collared, but no McCown's.

We finished the day back at the refuge where I finally found a Sage Sparrow along the Canyon Trail. We closed the evening on the "flight deck" watching the cranes and ducks come in for the night while trying not to step in the way of a photographer. I made that mistake once and got a very rude "EXCUSE ME" from the photographer.

We had dinner at the other famous eatery in San Antonio - the Buckhorn Tavern. GQ Magazine rated their green chile cheeseburgers as the #7 burger in the country and it didn't disappoint. More birding tomorrow!

This short write-up doesn't do the refuge justice, but enjoy the pictures below.

This is me scrambling up a dirt hill to look for some longspurs in a "dirt livestock tank"

Buckhorn Burger


TR Ryan said...

Enjoy every minute - I call it the Serengeti of the bird world. I can't wait to get back there. NM used to be home for awhile.

dguzman said...

Patrick 'tocks!

Nathan Ciurzynski said...

Bosque is such an amazing place to photograph. I visited this past December and January for a few weeks and it blew my mind.