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

Bosque’s Other Birds

December 26th, 2011 · 4 Comments

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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

Click on the picture above to enlarge

A Bald Eagle Waits for an Inattentive Meal

A Bald Eagle Waits for an Inattentive Meal

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While they mainly eat fish, Bald Eagles will take ducks and other birds if they can get them easily. So I was concerned when an apparently oblivious Pied-Billed Grebe flew onto the frozen lake between me and the eagle. But the grebe soon noticed the watchful eagle and made a valiant effort to take off from the ice. Since even walking on ice can be treacherous, imaging how hard it is to fly from it.

A Pied-billed Grebe Starts to Fly from the Ice

A Pied-billed Grebe Starts to Fly from the Ice

Click on the picture above to enlarge
Almost There

Almost There

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I got a kick out of this little bird’s efforts. But it seriously had to leave.

We had to leave too, although our situation wasn’t serious. It was excellent, as we had a wonderfully productive time in New Mexico. But the tour schedule was coming to an end and another storm was coming in.

Like bookends, storms marked the beginning and end of our journey to New Mexico. In between we had sunny, calm, and cold weather. But that changed for our last morning at Bosque. The temperature finally rose above freezing, but that was because of the heavy cloud cover.

We still watched the birds for a couple of hours. But “it’s all about the light,” which is Russ’s favorite aphorism. And the light was poor. So we soon drove off to Albuquerque where my three tour companions caught flights back to their homes. Russ drove me to his home near Denver, where I had left my SUV. In another hour I was back home after back-to-back trips to Bosque as well as to White Sands and Belize.

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Posted in: New Mexico

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Fran Stearns // Feb 2, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Placing these Grebes in the same frame would make an interesting picture. Can you age and sex them by color or configuration? Their shapes are appealing.

  • 2 David Mendosa // Feb 2, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Dear Fran,

    Juveniles do look different. The best online source for that is probably http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pied-billed_Grebe/id/ac

    David

  • 3 Fran Stearns // Feb 2, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    If I painted them, the canvas title should be “Young Grebes”? Or “Grebe Ducklings”?

  • 4 David Mendosa // Feb 3, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Dear Fran,

    I think that young would be better than duckling. I don’t think that a grebe is a duck or duckling.

    David

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