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| p.1 #3 · Bosque del Apache (photos added) |
I can +1 to Art's comments. On this forum just seach "trenchmonkey" and you will find lots of super posts and photos from the area. BDA is easy to access from Socorro, and there are several decent motels in town. Other than fast food places, the little place pretty much rolls up its sidewalks after dark, so don't expect much night life. In the evenings I tend to stop at the Buckhorn Tavern in the village of San Antonio for a brew and a cheeseburger before heading back to Socorro.
1. I go each year in January on the week centered on the full moon. Last year we had some nice clouds move through with a front (no snow) and it got down to about 15 f. on two nights, so bring approprite dress as even the slightest breeze in the open areas around the ponds will make it feel REALLY cold. You will want to get up early enough to spend about 1/2 hour driving down to the refuge and to be in place at your chosen spot a full half hour to 45 minutes before sunrise.
2. If you have two bodies, bring them both. I normally shoot with a 500 on a gimbal for most of the work with the cranes and such, and keep my 24-85 on the other body for "blast-offs" and group shots. I hold my 70-200 (with a 1.4 teleconverter) in reserve for mid-range work. This is a place where high ISO and low light image quality is a premium, as you will want to keep your shutter speed as high as possible to keep the moving birds sharp in your pictures.
3. As Art mentioned, the cranes and geese move around a bit within the refuge, so your first day should be spent spotting the photographers with big lenses as they position themselves. Just ask them where the birds seem to be congregating and anyone will fill you in on the latest movements. The last couple of years the cranes have actually been using the shallow ponds on the west side of the refuge....just as you enter the area....for their night roosts. This is great for early morning shots as the moon starts to go down. I have also gotten some nice individual shots from the "flight deck" and surrounding areas.
4. You will be tempted to just cruise in your car. STOP Get out of the car and walk the open trails (check to see if any are closed due to mountain lion activity!) to find good positions to work from as the day progresses. Ducks you will find everywhere, so keep your eyes open for neat shots. Also, if you spend 3 days there you should have no problem spotting coyotes, lots of different hawks, and even bobcat. The last several years there have been both bald and golden eagles present, but they tend to be a bit aloof and distant.