2021—Sundown at Bosque

Things have changed a little at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge since I was last here two years ago. New Mexico is experiencing a drought like much of the Western United States. Because of this, there is less water available in the refuge for habitat management and as a result, many of the fields that have traditionally been flooded to provide habitat are not being filled. This includes ponds that offer little food value for migrating birds which includes the site along Highway 1 known as the Track Pond (officially designated Wetland Unit 3 South) where in past years, I have photographed unforgettable scenes as the Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese leave to feed in the morning at sunrise or return to roost for the night at sunset. New areas in the refuge have been flooded along the tour loop but access is not as convenient and it seems as if there are fewer birds here this year. The weather is very mild with lows in the 30s and highs in the 60s, much different from freezing temperatures of past years. Then there is the wind. The winds came up yesterday afternoon and it blew clouds of dust past our vehicle faster than we were driving. The high winds challenged the birds in flight, challenged us to keep our cameras steady, and covered us and our gear with fine silt. Despite this, I thought the sunburst peeking through the clouds in the late afternoon with Snow Geese and a few Sandhill Cranes scattered around the pond made a pretty scene.

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