Happy National Bird Day! Considering the day today, it’s appropriate that I talked about my recent trip to the middle of the state. I drove down to the Socorro area and grabbed a hotel for a few nights. Then each morning I woke up early to arrive at the Bosque del Apache area well before sunrise so that I could scout the lighting, clouds and of course the birds in the area.
The most predominant birds you will see in the a.m. at sunrise will be the infamous sandhill cranes and plenty of snow geese. I try to find a larger concentration of snow geese usually to start out. As the sun rises, on most mornings, the geese are flying in and settling in the various areas of water. Then, at some time near sun break, they will all take off into the air at once giving you a dramatic shot of chaos and beauty intertwined. The trick though is to have it all coming together! Between finding a large group of geese and timing it with a beautiful sky backdrop, it can be a tedious, yet rewarding experience.
On this particular day last week, I opted for the classic sunrise shot. The colors were starting to come into the sky, and I loved the foreground with the path leading into the water. The shot below was my final composition, which I used bracketing to pick up all of the dynamic range within the shot. From the dark foreground to the bright sky, the shot had quite a diverse exposure range. As you can see, the New Mexico bird migration can also bring glorious sunrises and sunsets.
There will be a few brief moments on some mornings when the sunlight can be pretty intense. This provides an opportunity for some excellent silhouette shots with the cranes and geese in the ponds before they leave for the day. I captured the shot below with the last two cranes, just before they flew off to the corn fields.
Once the sun rises, there is another task at hand! Most photographers and birdwatchers head to the crane pools. For about an hour, the sandhill cranes will, group by group, take flight. The idea is to photograph them as they take to the skies. At this time in the morning, the sunlight provides very excellent lighting as they take flight, to the north to find fields to feed in. The shooting here can be fast and furious as you are looking to capture that perfect shot. The cranes are so beautiful and graceful as they take flight it is a site to behold and of course, photograph. The New Mexico Bird Migration in this area is a spectacular treat that anyone in the area should try to witness at least once in their adventures!
Later on, in the month I will share my experience about 50 miles North of Bosque Del Apache at another bird refugee. For now, though, you can get a sneak peak at some of the images from there as well as more wildlife! Check out my Wildlife Portfolio. I hope you enjoyed reading about a typical day in Bosque del Apache. If you ever want to get the most out of Bosque, consider visiting during the Festival of the Cranes each November.