There was an unexpected disruption to the plans for bird watching this week (see end of post). So I thought I would post some photos from a trip I took in 2018 to New Mexico. It was a group organized by Massachusetts Audubon and we travelled up the Rio Grande River from El Paso, Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The trip centered around Bosque del Apache, located about halfway between these two cities. The trip was in January, a time when Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes gather in the thousands. Hence the title of this post which in English is “geese and cranes of the forest”.
Snow Geese are an uncommon site in my area of New England and Sandhill Cranes are unheard of. But they are certainly very common in New Mexico in January. This is just a small section of the wetlands that are packed with the white geese and grey colored cranes.
There are two morphs (body types) of Snow Goose. There is a dark morph called a Blue Goose, while the majority are white. This photo shows both in flight.
There is also another goose species mixed in with these flocks, Ross’s Goose. It is smaller and doesn’t have the black “grinning patch” on the beak. Here they are in flight…Ross’s Goose (top) and Snow Goose (bottom).
The size difference is obvious in this photo. Ross’s Goose is on the left.
Large numbers of Sandhill Cranes mix with the geese.
There are other waterfowl like this Northern Pintail and Northern Shoveler. But they are vastly outnumbered.
It is quite an experience to go to the wetlands at dawn and watch the thousands of geese fly out to forage for the day.
The highlight is when the remaining geese in a pond decide to leave in one mass exodus. I don’t think anyone knows what the signal is but the entire flock will leap into the air. The noise of the honking and flapping wings is tremendous! I just hit the shutter as they flew right over our heads.
A few moments later, there are only cranes left in the pond looking like they are happy that the noisy geese have finally left them in peace!
Here are few more goose (ansares) and crane (grullas) photos.
These are just a few of the photographs from a memorable trip to the bosque (forest) along the Rio Grande in New Mexico.
Note: The plans our little group made for the week were cancelled by Covid, something that is all too common these days. Two of us were exposed to someone who tested positive and the rest of us were subsequently exposed to them. All of us are vaccinated and wear masks in appropriate situations. This was crucial since it turned out that none of us tested positive. We cancelled out of an abundance of caution while testing since some of us and the people we interact with have underlying health issues. None of us wants to get sick but we especially do not want to be responsible for causing serious problems for them. We’ll be back in the field next week and taking extra precautions while the current surge is ongoing.