Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is about 75 miles South of Albuquerque on the Rio Grande River and is winter home to tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. It is one of the top spots for nature photographers. Chris and I are going to Bosque del Apache in February. Last year, one of the docents said that the Sandhill Cranes are doing their mating dance at that time of year. What makes shooting at Bosque del Apache so exciting is that you can get close to the birds. Where they land at night is where they will be the next morning. Both the cranes and the geese spend the night in the shallow water of the ponds at Bosque del Apache. The geese do a mass take off in the morning and a mass return at night. They can also be seen feeding in the fields. The Sandhill Cranes take off individually over a several hour period and return over a short period at sunset. So there are multiple opportunities to shoot the cranes taking off or landing. The ponds where the birds overnight are small so you can get quite close to the birds. A moderate telephoto lens of 200mm will do just fine.
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We plan on being there at Bosque del Apache for 3 evenings and three mornings of shooting. As a trip extension we are going to shoot one day at the Bisti Badlands. We will spend one night in Farmington, NM so we can shoot the whole day at the Bisti Badlands. The plan is leave Lancaster on Saturday February 2 and spend the first night in Flagstaff. Leave Flagstaff and drive to Bosque del Apache. Spend the next three nights in Socorro, NM. Shoot at Bosque on Sunday evening, Monday morning and evening, Tuesday morning and evening and Wednesday morning. Drive to Farmington for Wednesday night. Leave Farmington on Thursday morning for a day of shooting at Bisti and drive to Gallup, NM. Return to Lancaster on Friday.
You can easily shoot 2000 frames at day at Bosque, so bring plenty of storage capacity. It will at or near freezing in the mornings so bring the appropriate clothes. Socorro is about 20 minutes from Bosque del Apache and there are several motels there. Farmington is about an hour drive from Bisiti Badlands.
Other points of interest around Farmington, NM are the Aztec Ruins, which were not made by the Aztecs, and shiprock.
- The Fish and Wildlife Service website - http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/newmex/bosque/
- Bisti Badlands website - http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/wilderness/bisti.html
- Aztec Ruins website - http://www.nps.gov/azru/index.htm
- Shiprock information - http://geoinfo.nmt.edu/tour/landmarks/shiprock/home.html