We made our annual pilgrimage to
Bosque del Apache last week. This is the third year we have rented a van to carry six of us: Mer, me, Melissa, Lew, Kathleen and Dave,
our ornithologist. Dave’s ability to identify birds with the briefest of sightings or just by sound is very impressive. Where I see “a
bunch of birds in a bush,” he sees a dozen or more species.
Overall, I think we saw fewer individual birds. In particular, there seemed to be far fewer cranes than usual.
Still, we got to see plenty of birds between noon and sunset, including coots, grebes, a pheasant, kestrels, pintails, bald eagles,
harriers, red tail hawks, a merganzer, a great blue heron, and a road runner.
A key part of our expedition is grazing. Everyone
contributes great food, most of it homemade and gourmet. We munch at stops and have a real meal at on one of the decks. After dark, we
stop in San Antonio for burgers, usually at the Owl, but this time at the Buckhorn, which most of us liked more.
My favorite bird-specific
moment was seeing a harrier (aka marsh hawk) harassing a red-tailed hawk.
The big show is the fly-in at sunset (or fly-out at
sunrise, which I think is a little more spectacular — one year Mer and I saw both). There is nothing like the symphony of geese and
cranes and the rustle and squeak of the feathers in their wings.
The colors of this sunset were stunning. Though the groups
flying in seemed smaller and fewer, we lingered past dark, delighted as always. mjh
PS: See some of my photos from the trip; from there, follow the link to
similarly tagged photos from other photographers. My blog-bud, johnny_mango, rode bikes with MaryAnn around the bosque last week; read his entry and see his photos.
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