Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Snow of Our Deserts



Welcome to the 2013 New Year!  I will be publishing once a week from my work in the garden, travel, and around the world this year.  Today's post focuses on my target bird, the Snow Geese of Bosque Del Apache, New Mexico.
Now unfortuneatly, I didn't know much about New Mexico other than the highway known as 25.  It is a long and boring drive from Tucson up to Colorado.   It does get a little more interesting landscape-wise towards the northern part of the state....except for the radio stations. Pardon the expression when I say, "It was god awful!"  Bring music with you unless you like this stuff. Part of the challenge was to find the beauty of New Mexico.  So like I always do, I planned and planned our way up to Colorado carefully and stopped along the way in southern New Mexico.  What we found was EVERYTHING but boring!
So instead of driving through the state making a snap judgement, we spent several nights there. It was an incredible discovery full of amazing wildlife.  I will be going back again.  I have several blogger friends in New Mexico and I still can't imagine landscaping or gardening there as it was very very cold!  But I got a better sense of what plants do well in the environment and felt like it wouldn't be difficult creating a garden space in this part of the country.  While before, I just saw a couple trees and really didn't know much more than that.....I was especially impressed with a prickly pear cactus that could withstand freezing temps!  So David, I can relate to your work better:)  It really does get cold in this high desert area.
But I followed my motto.  "Step out your door and look!"  We went to film the Snow Geese of New Mexico and film them we did!  Thousands and thousands of them.  Like snow in the sky or snow on the fields, these geese did not disappoint at all.  It was a lifebird for me and I take the lifebirds seriously the first time around. I try to get as much observation time in as I can.  I observe their sounds, movements, etc.
And I try to do the best photography that I can.  Now there are lifebirds that just fly by and pose for two seconds.....that is very challenging.  Or they're out of range from my camera like the many Bald Eagles on this trip!!  Thankfully the Snow Geese were so much more cooperative. We raced in the darkness to watch sunrise at Bosque Del Apache.  This is the time when thousands and thousands of Snow Geese will rise from their huddled slumber and fly to open water to begin their day.  They move from the fields to the water.  In fact, while driving in, we saw what looked like snow all along the fields.  It was the geese and it proved their name lived up to their description.
As a birder, I knew that there was another kind of goose similar to the Snow Goose.  It's known as the Ross's Goose.  They can also breed together and make hybrids! The difference?  Look at the head shot above at the Snow Goose.  Notice the smile on the bill?  That is typical of a Snow Goose. The Ross's Goose has a shorter bill sans the "smile".  Some birders call it a sweeter and cuter look. I call it tricky birding because in those thousands of Snow Geese, there are several hiding.  Being that this would also be a lifebird for me, I searched long and hard for them.  While I didn't count them in the thousands, I did capture them on my camera in the hundreds.

If you're a birder and your partner is not, this is a great outing to share together as it is a spectacular show.  Also present in the thousands are the the Sandhill Cranes.  See you next week with another report.  Until then, here's a video I took with my IPHONE on the trip.  


29 comments:

  1. those scenes in the setting sun are gorgeous!

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  2. Hi Chris, WOW---fabulous trip and photos... I cannot imagine seeing the geese and/or cranes like that in person. Unbelievable... Thanks for sharing --especially the video.

    Have fun enjoying nature every way you can..
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  3. The snow goose is such a beautiful creature yet not to be outdone by those gorgeous sunrise colors!

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  4. All great photos Chris as usual. I had never heard of a snow goose before,

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  5. Ha! Bosque del Apache and a few other spots in the valley bottom to past Bernalillo are colder than I am by 10F often in the winter (or summer). But we are getting hit, and not every winter is like the last 5, usually milder periods...glad you saw more. The slopes of any of those mountains, including where I am, where the lowlands are just creosote / grasses, would blow you away...and far more interesting botanically than Santa Fe and north.

    The radio - need to hear more on that! (is it the endless country vs. rancheras music?)

    Next time, I should introduce you to Daniel and Socorro, who also grow plants at Rio Grande Cacti near Bosque del Apache.

    Geese - I need to do a quick 30 minute drive into the ABQ North Valley, as the same birds overwinter here, too. The few times I've been down there, it's stunning to see all that white.

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  6. I love to see huge flocks of the Snow Geese! The sunrise shots are BEAUTIFUL! Lovely post, Chris! Have a great week ahead.

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  7. Well, there you are!!
    These are spectacular shots of the snow goose and the New Mexico Mountains. Very nice!

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  8. Very nice! I love the tip about bringing along good music!
    Those Snow Geese are so pretty. Looks like it was well worth the drive time. Thanks for taking so much precious time to share your travels with us. xo

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  9. What a thrill to include sunrise with the flight of these snow geese. There sound would be the preferred music to my ears.

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  10. Incredible pictures as always and interesting descriptions... Like a Snow Geese convention!

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  11. Very funny post title, considering we're covered with white snow at the moment :) Nice to have all different kinds of white, ain't it? Love the video, especially the sounds!

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  12. Lovely shots of the snow geese, I particularly like the sunset image and the snowgoose and reflection on the water. I forgot to mention before I love your hummer header. I will be looking forward to seeing you weekly.

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  13. Hi there Chris, and a happy new year to you! Beautiful birds, and stunning, peaceful scenery, what more could a person want eh?

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  14. How wonderful that you have found some beauty in New Mexico! But of course you did because you actually opened your eyes to SEE. :))

    We actually have some snow geese here nd I have been looking for Ross's goose with no luck. Maybe soon, though!

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  15. Beautiful photos and love the snow goose. Happy new year!

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  16. A (very) belated Happy New Year ;-)

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  17. Spectacular images of the Snow geese and those skies are really
    breathtaking.
    Wishing you a very full, healthy and happy New Year.
    Take care.

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  18. Beautiful landscape images with the lovely detail of the birds, silhouetted and in colour.

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  19. Amazing, Chris! Just wonderful! Glad your saw this lifebird and had an amazing experience there in the dawn!

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  20. You had a wonderful experience, I can hear them in my mind.

    We used to go to Richmond, at the Riefel Bird Sanctuary and watch them in the mud flats...stunning.

    Jen

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  21. I recommend everyone watch your video in full screen, its awesome to see so many birds fly and landing on the water together. Great photos of the Snow Geese, and possibly a Ross in the flock as well.

    Congrats on a new lifer or two!
    That was an amazing journey for you and for us, Chris. Thanks ;>)

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  22. Gosh that's quite a flock coming in for a landing there Chris. It must be amazing to hear the honking noise they make in real life, so many of them. Good to hear that you are still having such rewarding experience, will eagerly await next weeks posting. Have a good weekend.

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  23. Oh what a glorious sight, viewing all those beautiful Snow Geese flying aloft and landing in the water! An experience you will never forget, I'm sure. Lovely photographs! The colors in the scenic images are especially breathtaking. Congratulations on the life bird, Chris!

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  24. What a fun trip this must have been and beautiful too. I love your sunrise shot. I know it must have been very cold for that one!

    I have missed visiting and like your new approach in the new year. Maybe I can aim for a once-a-week post to begin with. I need to get back into blogging...the community and support are an important part of my life and I miss it. Thank you for your greetings during my absence. They meant a lot to me.

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  25. Gorgeous colors in this post. Love the head shot!

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  26. chris, that first shot is really breathtaking...
    OH, and so is the second one...the goose in flight...love the black wing tips! OH yeah...and i also love the sunsets...

    (this year...i won't be on here as much...i have so many things i want to do...spend more time with some hands-on artsy stuff...being creative, not just with my picture taking & blogging...i want to roam more...explore...BUT of course, i will be here to check out my favorite bloggers & their posts!! have an awesome 2013 chris!)

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  27. I don't know much about New Mexico but those shots are beautiful! I always learn something from your blog! You're making me a more educated wanna-be birder. :o)

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  28. Happy New Year, Chris! What an incredible post this is! Your photos are gorgeous; Bosque Del Apache looks amazing. Must have been quite an experience to see in person. Thanks for sharing and happy adventures:)

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  29. Hello. Catching up on the posts. Love this one on the snow geese.
    We love New Mexico. Now, we haven't considered moving there and growing anything nor have we been there in winter, but we love the volcanic landscape, the churches and the mountains in the north!

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