2008 & 2009

OVERVIEW

Bosque Del Apache is in the state of New Mexico USA, about 1-1.5 hours south of Albuquerque and is famous for thousands of Snow Geese spending the winter there along with Ross’s Goose and Sandhill Cranes.  The Snow Geese all take off early morning with a ‘blast off’ filling the sky which is an amazing sight and sound…

The Snow Geese may also blast off during the day if disturbed by a Coyote or similar predator.

It can get quite cold at Bosque during the winter (I think early December is the best time to go) and the Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes spend the night on water which can freeze around the Sandhill Crane’s legs and this has to thaw before they can take off, the remnants of ice can be seen on this Sandhill Crane’s leg…

Other wildlife you may see includes Coyotes, Deer, American Bald Eagle, flocks of American Redwing Blackbirds to name a few.

GETTING THERE
Albuquerque is the nearest airport but there were no direct flights from the UK when I went, I had to connect to another flight at Washington on my first trip and Houston on my second.  Most people visiting Bosque stay at Socorro which is a few miles north of Bosque and most Wildlife photographers stay at the Super 8 Motel in Socorro where valuable information can be exchanged at breakfast each morning.   All in all it takes about 24 hours travelling to get to Albuquerque/Socorro so it is quite tiring, but Jet-lag (at least from the UK) means that you will be up early each morning enabling you to arrive at Bosque before sunrise so that you can witness and photograph the morning blast off which is what most people come to see and experience.

On both of my trips I had a small breakfast at the Socorro Super 8 where I was staying, the morning was then spent photographing at Bosque (get there BEFORE dawn) and travel back to Socorro for lunch at Denny’s.  Afternoon back to Bosque, then back to Socorro Super 8 and dine early 6pm (ish) at various places including K-Bobs which is just next door.  Back to the Super 8 to download the days images and have a look through them so that I could decide what I had done right and what I had done badly throughout the day.    Off to bed early 9:30pm (ish) so that I was up early the next day again.  Jet-lag meant to me that I went to bed early (for New Mexico time) but also got up early very easily to get to Bosque before dawn.

PHOTOGRAPHY
If you are a keen photographer you will need a tripdod and long lens (I take a 500mm + x1.4 convertor) and a mixture of other lenses, I took a 100-400, 70-200 and a wide angle comes in useful if the blast off comes towards you…

There are also spectacular sunrises and sunsets to be had…

There are also a lot of opportunities to try for ‘artistic’ type shots…

Normally the Snow Geese roost on the Bosque Del Apache Reserve main pool, from where they Blast Off each morning and the ‘Flight Deck’ area is the most popular place for photographs, however the Deck itself does vibrate a little when people move around so is not ideal first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening.

As well as the main Reserve, there are some ‘Crane Pools’ on the right hand side (from Socorro) just before you get to the Reserve entrance where Sandhill Cranes seem to prefer to roost overnight, these can be really good for take-off/flight shots of the Cranes as well as some Snow Geese.  In fact on my second trip every morning was spent at these pools as they offered better photographic opportunities than the main pool, things may be different this/next year so you have to make your decision and hope it was the best one, after saying that even a ‘wrong’ decision at Bosque can still be awesome.  In the afternoon we mainly drove around the Bosque reserve finding other wildlife to photograph, e.g. Coyote, Deer, assortment of birds (including American Bald Eagle).  If the wind is from the South/East then you may get very good flight/landing shots near the Farm Loop which is at the North end of the reserve.  But don’t  forget to consider going back to the pools for the evening fly-in.  Sunsets and Sunrises can be very spectacular but it does get a little cold, however during the day you may need suntan lotion 🙂

If you are a bird photographer then in my opinion there is no better place than Bosque Del Apache to experience.  After I had witnessed the last blast off of my trip I turned to the fellow photographer next to me and said ‘I can die happy now’ – it was just one of those unforgettable moments 🙂

Just one other thing I forgot earlier, if you are planning a trip to Bosque and if you have the choice of dates, I would try and arrange the visit to coincide with a full moon, there are so good flight shot opportunities with the moon in the background.

Map showing Albuquerque and Socorro, Bosque Del Apache is on the map and is accessed off the Old US Highway 85 via San Antonio which cannot be seen but it is due south (ish) from Socorro [Bosque Del Apache Reserve Entrance is at 33°47’59.03″N 106°53’24.01″W]

Some links with useful info and some maps…
http://www.friendsofthebosque.org/
http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/newmex/bosque/

A youtube video of some of my photographs from my trips…

And a couple of YouTube Videos by someone called ‘RMichael224’ and ‘albuquerquegirl’

… PREPARE TO BE TOTALLY AMAZED…