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December 2008

Joshua Tree National Park Sunrise

California, Joshua Tree, National Parks

On Thanksgiving morning I made a quick sunrise run into Joshua Tree National Park. Fortunately the Starbucks near my mom’s in La Quinta opens at 5am so I was fully caffeinated for the drive. I got into my favorite part of the park about 45 minutes before sunrise, parked and walked for a while away from the road. It was very still. The only sounds I heard were a few birds and a distant rock fall. I took this photo just as the sun peeked above the distant hills.

Sunrise in Joshua Tree National Park, Yucca brevifolia

Sunrise in Joshua Tree National Park.
Image ID: 22100
Species: Joshua tree, Yucca brevifolia
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

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Snow Goose in Flight, Bosque del Apache

Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

Our first few days at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge did not yield great opportunities to photograph individual snow geese (Chen caerulescens) in flight, primarily because the geese were spending the bulk of their day in the far northern corn fields, far out of reach of even the longest lenses. On our final morning, however, I took one last drive around the Farm Loop and found, to my surprise, a large gathering of snow geese just off the road, feeding in the near corn fields. Just two other photographers were there when I arrived. I am not much good at photographing birds in flight, they simply move too fast for me and I do not practice at it enough. However, after an hour and about 800 images, I was sure I had at least a few keepers: well composed (or at least well-enough) and sharp. About 25 photographers had gathered by the time the light was too harsh and I had to leave to catch my flight home.

Snow goose in flight, Chen caerulescens, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, New Mexico

Snow goose in flight.
Image ID: 21813
Species: Snow goose, Chen caerulescens
Location: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, New Mexico, USA

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Sandhill Cranes, Bosque del Apache

Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

Each evening while we were at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge we positioned ourselves at one of the two northern “crane pools”, the ones located on the west side of the road as one approaches the main entrance to the refuge. For 30-40 minutes before and after sunset, sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) would fly in to the pools to spend the night, arriving individually as well as in groups of a few to a few dozen. In the east the sky took on a rich gold color, deepest right along the edge of the hills that formed the eastern horizon from where we stood. I would shoot a few frames as the cranes sank lower in the sky on their approach, just as they passed through the best color before slipping into the dark below the horizon.

Sandhill cranes in flight, silhouetted against a richly colored evening sky, Grus canadensis, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, New Mexico

Sandhill cranes in flight, silhouetted against a richly colored evening sky.
Image ID: 21831
Species: Sandhill crane, Grus canadensis
Location: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, New Mexico, USA

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Coyote, Bosque del Apache

Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

One afternoon, after arriving at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, we planned to make a circuit of the Farm Loop in late afternoon before finishing at the crane pools. While transiting the center of the refuge we came upon this coyote (Canis latrans), surveying some marsh area from near the road. The coyote seemed in no hurry, holding its position long enough that I was able to pull out my longest lens (which fortunately was already on my best camera body) and get in position to snap a few frames. Eventually I was able to lay myself and my camera on the ground to get this particular frame.
Coyote, pausing to look for prey as it passes through Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Canis latrans, Socorro, New Mexico

Coyote, pausing to look for prey as it passes through Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
Image ID: 21803
Species: Coyote, Canis latrans
Location: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, New Mexico, USA

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Snow Geese on a Crane Pool in Afternoon, Bosque del Apache

Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

Midday at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is, for photographers, pretty slow. The bird flight activity seems rather low and the light is harsh. We would return to Socorro for midday, to have lunch, clean up, and catch up on reading the news or having a nap. We would then head back to the refuge about 2:30 or 3pm to take a look at where any geese or cranes might be gathered, assess the winds and make our best guess as to where we should locate ourselves for sundown. On this particular day we found ourselves at 3pm at the south corner of the southernmost crane pool, watching the snow geese (Chen caerulescens) as they would take off in groups of a few dozen at a time. The high thin clouds, given a little pop in this photo with a polarizing filter, would provide some incredible color at sunset just a couple hours later.

Snow geese, and one of the "crane pools" in the northern part of Bosque del Apache NWR, Chen caerulescens, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, New Mexico

Snow geese, and one of the “crane pools” in the northern part of Bosque del Apache NWR.
Image ID: 21811
Species: Snow goose, Chen caerulescens
Location: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, New Mexico, USA

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Photo of Sandhill Cranes at Sunset, Bosque del Apache

Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

On our recent trip to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Skip, Ken and I were treated to several fantastic sunsets as we watched the sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) flying in from nearby corn fields to roost for the night in shallow ponds, where they are protected from coyotes. These three sandhill cranes are silhouetted against deep gold light about 15 minutes after the sun went down behind the mountains.

Sandhilll cranes in golden sunset light, silhouette, standing in pond, Grus canadensis, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, New Mexico

Sandhilll cranes in golden sunset light, silhouette, standing in pond.
Image ID: 21798
Species: Sandhill crane, Grus canadensis
Location: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, New Mexico, USA

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Histogram Check, Sunset, Bosque del Apache

Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

A photographer checks the histogram on his camera, making sure not to blow the highlights in this crazy sunset. Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) are silhouetted in one of the crane pools at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico.

A photographer looks on the back of his camera to view his perfect image of yet another beautiful sunset at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Grus canadensis, Socorro, New Mexico

A photographer looks on the back of his camera to view his perfect image of yet another beautiful sunset at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
Image ID: 21857
Species: Sandhill crane, Grus canadensis
Location: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, New Mexico, USA