Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is known worldwide for the winter migration of greater sandhill cranes and snow geese. Thousands of these photogenic birds spend the winter months at the refuge where there is plenty of food and protection from predators. Jane and I have traveled from San Diego to Bosque del Apache several times to enjoy and photograph the spectacle of these birds on the refuge. Now, residing in Albuquerque and the refuge being only about a ninety minute drive from our front door, we decided to join the Friends of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. So this November we participated in the 32nd annual Festival of the Cranes that is sponsored and managed by the Friends.
The Festival is a five day celebration with more than a 130 events, including tours, seminars, hikes, workshops and entertainment choices. We picked 18 events and spent the next five days thoroughly absorbed with activities on and around the refuge. Our memories of Bosque from prior visits included fiery sunrises and sunsets with tens of thousands of birds. During the Festival, however, we were a bit disappointed with the weather and the number of birds. We had overcast skies that prevented a night photography workshop I had signed up for. Then we had a hard, cold rain to cope with. And one morning we were greeted with a dense fog that prevented any meaningful photography.
All was not gloom and doom, however. We had a great time and enjoyed ourselves tremendously at the Festival. Highlights included: lectures on birding and bird photography; a night time owling expedition; several photography workshops; watching a falconer fly his raptors; and some night sky photography workshops. The great thing about having this world renowned resource so close to home is that we can visit again and again whenever we want.
Images from the Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache are located in the Wildlife Refuges gallery.