Sandhill Cranes in Bosque Del Apache NWR at Sunset

KanadakranichEvery evening a very special spectacle occurs in this beautiful Wildlife Refuge in the south of New Mexico. Sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) arrive at the “crane pools” at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge each evening. Having spent the day feeding in nearby corn fields, they will overnight standing in the shallow pools of the Reserve. This presumably so that they can rest in the dark with minimal threat to be attacked by coyotes. As the sun rises the next morning, they eventually depart to the corn fields again. The pond which the Cranes prefer, is perhaps my favorite spot in the whole area of the Bosque del Apache NWR. I spend the first days in January 1999 in the Bosque Del Apache NWR after a business trip to Texas. My main targets were Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens), Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus), Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes), Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla), Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) and maybe even one of the few Whooping Crane (Grus americana), which were rescued at the brink of extinction and winter in Bosque Del Apache. In surrounding prairie land I hoped for other birds as e.g. the Bendire’s Thrasher (Toxostoma bendirei).

Besides the birding aspect, the Refuge offer photo art opportunities as well. Sunset at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, with sandhill cranes silhouetted in reflection in the calm pond is a special. Spectacular sunsets at Bosque del Apache, rich in reds, oranges, yellows and purples, make for striking reflections of the thousands of cranes and geese found in the refuge each winter.

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