Copyright Scott Bourne 1996 - All Rights Reserved

Copyright Scott Bourne 1996 - All Rights Reserved

I heard it before I even knew what it was. There was a sound that reminded me of a jet airplane taking off. It was so real that I started looking around for a runway. Then I saw it. The sky, bathed with the pink glow of the sunrise, literally went dark with tens of thousands of snow geese.

This was why I came to Bosque del Apache. The birds. Tens of thousands of them. Particularly sandhill cranes and snow geese. They leapt into the sky, wave upon wave. Driven by instinct and almost as if on cue, they made their departure northward for the farm fields that provide them with their sustenance.

It was over in less than 30 seconds. My entire body was tingling with excitement. I was both elated and sad at the same time. I was elated because I’d just witnessed one of the most spectacular scenes nature has to offer. I was sad because it was over so quickly.

The sights and sounds of the morning “fly-out” near Bosque’s famed “Flight Deck” were worth the trip, even if I hadn’t made a single picture.

Bosque del Apache (Woods of the Apache) is a 57,191-acre national wildlife refuge, 18 miles south of Socorro, New Mexico. Created by diverting water from the Rio Grande to create extensive wetlands, it borders the the Chupadera and San Pascual Mountains.

More than 300 species of birds migrate to the Bosque each year. During any visit, you may see great blue herons, mallards, snowy egrets, sandhill cranes, roadrunners, Ross, Canadian and snow geese, bald eagles, Coopers and red-tailed hawks and wild turkeys. During the fall migration, it’s one of the largest concentrations of birds in the U.S.
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