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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Entries Tagged as 'New Mexico'

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Bosque’s Other Birds

December 26th, 2011 · 4 Comments

Sandhill Cranes are definitely the biggest draw at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, New Mexico. In the fields they eat surrounded by an even greater number of Snow Geese. I never saw so many birds in my life. I also never saw so many photographers, almost all of them with single-lens reflex cameras and long lenses mounted on heavy tripods. Just like me and the other people in my photo safari.

But Bosque attracts many other species of birds, albeit in smaller numbers. One morning our tour leader Russ Burden took us to the ponds on the grounds of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the university in Socorro. There we saw quite a few American Wigeons and other wading birds. And we were the only people there.

A Male American Wigeon Lands Tail First

A Male American Wigeon Lands Tail First

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Posted in: New Mexico

Bosque’s Cranes and Geese

December 25th, 2011 · 2 Comments

The Sandhill Cranes at Bosque were what initially attracted me to New Mexico in early December. That and learning from a master photographer, Russ Burden.

Russ’s tour led me and three other photographers first to White Sands National Monument. In five days at White Sands I took only 630 photos. But in the four days at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro I made 2,604 shots. Selecting my favorites took a little time.

Bosque has lots of Sandhill Cranes. It is one of their few wintering areas. But I was surprised to see even more Snow Geese than Sandhill Cranes.

Snow Geese Blast Off in the Morning

Snow Geese Blast Off in the Morning

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Posted in: New Mexico

White Sands

December 24th, 2011 · No Comments

I went to the White Sands National Monument to take pictures of yuccas.

Now, yuccas have been a part of my life since growing up the San Gabriel Mountains as a kid when I sat down on one by mistake. A mistake that I for some reason have never forgotten.

So, I am not particularly fond of yuccas. And I don’t normally think of yuccas as being particularly photogenic.

But a professional photographer can make yuccas interesting. Russ Burden is that sort of photographer. He showed me and three other photography students how to photograph the soaptree yuccas of White Sands.

Mountains and Yucca

Mountains and Yucca

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But, of course, we saw much more than yuccas. We shot the white gypsum dunes and surrounding mountains in all their patterns, shapes, and textures.

Morning at White Sands

Morning at White Sands

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Posted in: New Mexico

Between the Storms

December 23rd, 2011 · 2 Comments

If the storm hadn’t closed the park, we wouldn’t have seen the oryx.

The gate to White Sands National Monument was locked when we arrived there on December 6. I was there with three other photographers on a photo safari that Russ Burden led.

Russ had led the incredible tour of the Everglades that I took with him in February. Russ is both a top-flight professional photographer and a dedicated teacher. I had learned so much from him on that tour that I made sure to go with him again, particularly after another participant on the Everglades tour, the gifted photographer Cheryl Tyson, told me how great his New Mexico tour is.

Cheryl was absolutely right about New Mexico. But any December tour there risks bad weather. If we had tried to get there a couple of days earlier, all the roads leading there would have been closed. Heavy snow had stopped all traffic at Socorro, and they had opened the highway just as we reached that town. Beyond Socorro the roads were icy but passable, and we looked forward to exploring White Sands that evening.

But because of the oryx, we couldn’t get to the park. The oryx come from Africa, and the only ones I had ever seen were in Somalia in 1963. These oryx, however, came from the Kalahari Desert. The New Mexico Fish and Game Department released 93 of them onto the White Sands Missile Range, which surrounds the national monument, between 1969 and 1973. They did so well there that the U.S. Park Service spent more than $1 million to fence them out of the national monument.

We too were fenced out. And no park service employees were at work when we got there. This wasn’t in the plan.

But just after we left the locked gate, Donna, one of the three other photographers on the Russ’s tour, spotted five large animals, each weighing about 400 to 500 pounds with straight black horns up to 40 inches long. So all of us, including Jamie from Washington, D.C., and Katy, who works in Luanda, Angola, but also lives in Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, piled out to photograph them. Russ said that in all the years he had led tours to White Sands he had never seen oryx here. When I took a backpacking trip here in 2008, I didn’t even know about the oryx.

Two of the Oryx We Saw Outside of White Sands

Two of the Oryx We Saw Outside of White Sands

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Posted in: New Mexico