Bosque del Apache NWR

Next day was the much anticipated visit to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Reserve. I have so many bird shots to sort through I’ll likely do this in sections. This first visit was too close to noon with fewer birds out than the next visit a few days later. We made sure to arrive much earlier in the morning for that second day. It rewarded us very nicely, but for now… I’ll start with the stop at the Visitor Center.

Bosque_del_Apache-7129We were greeted by my very first encounter with a road-runner. I was beside myself.

Followed by a lovely desert garden with this Claret Cup cactus in bloom. I’m not sure what the white buds are, but the branch is from a blooming mesquite. (as usual, click on an image for a slideshow)


Eric was pretty happy to spot this White-faced Ibis off in the distance, but it was a bit of a reach for my lens and the lighting wasn’t terrific, but still… there it is. It definitely counts as a sighting.

Next there were these two Shovelers. I liked the sequence where they’re both showing off their shoveling bills. Then she ducks her head and finally he has to see what she’s doing and he sticks his head under water too. I thought his crossed tail feathers look like horns. It’s pretty easy to see why they’re called Shovelers.

This was the only Snow Goose pair we saw. These same two were hanging around together with the rest of the bunch apparently on their way north already. Later we noticed that the wing feathers on one appeared to be damaged. Perhaps the mate was hanging around to watch over the wounded one. That last shot seems to indicate that they’re quite well fed.

This Gadwall doesn’t look all that impressive from a distance (or the thumbnail image), but the feather pattern on the chest is pretty intricate. Eric thinks the last shot of the butt looks like an angry pug (dog). I’d have to agree it’s pretty funny.


Eric spotted this Night Heron, but this bird didn’t stick around long enough for me to fiddle with settings. Still counting this one as a thrill nevertheless.


A pair of Ruddy Ducks preening…check out the wild turquoise colored beak on the male (on the left).


A better look at that amazing beak. It indicates that spring is in the air and he’s courting that female while trying to look casual.
This takes me about halfway through the first visit to the Refuge. There are still too many shots left to sort through for now. More to come….

A man could be a lover and defender of the wilderness without ever in his lifetime leaving the boundaries of asphalt, powerlines, and right-angled surfaces. We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to set foot in it. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis. 
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire






29 thoughts on “Bosque del Apache NWR

  1. Wonderful variety of birds and great captures, Gunta! We entered New Mexico today, should make it to Gallup tomorrow late afternoon. So wish Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge wasn’t so far from us during our short stay in Gallup. Good thing it’s not spring or fall or I’d be rerouting our trip to there for sure! 🙂

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    • Hope you enjoy NM as much as I did. It’s a shame you can’t make it down to see the BdA, but being an RV nomad, I’m sure you’ll get there eventually! Probably best during migration time anyway. We’re planning a return trip, but haven’t pinned down a time. Eric is up to his eyeballs demolishing the bathroom down south… floor, walls, putting in new stuff… the works! I’m staying out of the way for now. My momma didn’t raise no dummy! 😀

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  2. ah, a delightful visit to Bosque del Apache in spring, thanks so much Gunta. Interesting to see the ruddys are in breeding and there’s only one pair of snow geese, and injured at that. In the fall, when I have visited, it was loaded with the cranes and geese for the winter; and in spring its virtually no geese, but many shorebirds, ducks, ibis (nice), roadrunner (excellent) and the gorgeous cacti flowers. I loved seeing BdA in spring, thank you.

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    • Eric used to live not far from the BdA. He didn’t expect the geese and cranes, but the other birds were simply wonderful. The hot springs were a real treat, too. I still have more shots from our second visit to the refuge, but we’ve been so busy with remodel and I really got carried away with far too many shots of the vermillion male. He was super cute!

      Last autumn, or the previous one, we caught a blizzard of snow geese and cranes at the Klamath WR. That was my first experience of seeing so many and such different birds. It’s had me hooked ever since.

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      • I, too, have been hooked on the winter geese blizzards, Gunta, and have visited the Pacific Flyway every winter for over 20 yrs. There is nothing like it. How wonderful that Eric lived close to BdA. 🙂

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    • I think that’s why I’ve been so anxious to spot one! They were so cool in the cartoons! Didn’t get the greatest shots of the road runner, but just seeing a couple of them was delightful. We’ve even seen some coyotes, but not on this trip.

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  3. Got to admit, every time I see a roadrunner (which has only been a couple times), I get quite excited…and yes, it is due to the cartoons I watched as a kid. Still, I am never disappointed as they are such a cool bird. Great wildlife shots, and since I am from Oregon it is probably no surprise I am a duck person ~ so the shots of the Ruddy Ducks preening are my favorite. I’ve never seen such a bright turquoise colored bill before, great shot.


    • I’m still waiting to sort through some additional shots from the Bosque… and I did get to see a road runner do his running thing. So utterly cool! Lots of ducks there, too! Pretty wild in the middle of a desert. That turquoise bill is seen only during mating season, so I was very, very lucky!


  4. You packed in the sights, didn’t you? And who wouldn’t? We had a few nice encounters with Yellow-crowned Night Herons in New York – pure luck maybe. The Black-crowned ones used to to sit on the tops of pilings adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry, right in the city (NYC), which was amazing to see.


    • Eric spent years in New Mexico. It was something of a coming home for him. I loved the places he wanted to revisit, so it was a grand trip for both of us.

      I picture the Black-crowned herons on the pilings and it cracks me up! Out here they are extremely shy. A bit frustrating to try to photograph. With no plans to ever go east of the Mississippi again, I’m not likely to see a yellow-crowned one.


  5. Oh, that turquoise beak is really stunning. How could she resist? Eric is so right about that butt shot. 🙂 What a wonderful place to go wandering, Gunta, to see so many beautiful birds and flowers. The Snow Goose is my absolute favourite.


  6. Love the roadrunner (beep! beep!) and the cactus flowers. And the ruddy ducks (though, here in the UK, ‘Ruddy’ is like ‘bloody’ so seeing the phrase ‘ruddy ducks’ made me think “why? What did they do?” 😉


    • Sadly the snow geese probably would have been moving on with the rest of the flocks except for that injured wing. But it seemed to be hanging on. I’m hoping that the folks at the Refuge keep an eye on him. It seems contradictory to me, but they do allow some hunting at the Reserve, so it could have been shot. The mating ruddy duck male looks unreal with that bright blue bill.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is one of the places on my bucket list to visit someday, as I’ve heard that it’s a great place for birding, as your photos show! While other species that you’ve shown may be more impressive, I love the ruddy ducks, they’re so cute.


    • I’ve been told it’s quite popular in the fall when all the snow geese and cranes arrive. Eric used to live in the area and he said the photographers can be lined up shoulder to shoulder during peak moments. I love the ruddy ducks, too. That turquoise bill is just wild! I’m still learning to distinguish the different ducks, but the ruddy (at least when courting) is hard to miss!

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