Bosque del Apache (photos added)
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Adam Strochak
Registered: Apr 13, 2007
Total Posts: 249
Country: United States

Find myself with some free time in Jan and thinking about knocking off a bucket list item with a trip to New Mexico and Bosque del Apache NWR. I've checked out the NPS and Friends of BdA web sites, but I could use some practical tips geared toward wildlife photography. In particular looking for info on whether Jan is a good time to visit, best spots in BdA NWR for photography, places to stay nearby, and other nearby areas with good photographic possibilities. If someone can point me to a useful web site or prior FM post covering these topics, I'd be grateful.
Thanks,
Adam

Edit 1/13/2013:
Thanks to all who responded to my request for BdA info. I had a great trip and the advice was very helpful. I have added a few photos from the trip.

Adam



Older Fossil
Registered: Nov 20, 2009
Total Posts: 723
Country: United States

Adam,

Here are my $0.02. I think Nov., Dec. and Jan are the best months for BdA. January can get pretty chilly. If a major storm rolls through you'll probably have snow. Around mid Feb. the wintering birds start to leave. Long and fast glass seems to be the preferred lenses here, but I've gotten some good images with a 7D and 400mm f/5.6. A wider zoom is useful for scenery and fields full of birds. We usually spend time driving slowly around the loop roads looking for different wildlife. It seems like you never know what might show up. If there are large flocks of birds in one of the fields or ponds we'll stop and watch for a while. There are a few favorite places for dawn mass launches. Best to find out where the birds are spending the nights and position yourself before dawn. This seems to be different every time we are there. There are good shots to be found any time of day, but the best light is usually early and late in the day. We bring our motorhome and Jeep and stay at Birdwatchers RV at the north edge of the reserve. The best bet for motel rooms is in Socorro about 20 miles north.

Hope this helps,
Art



Genes Home
Registered: Mar 12, 2008
Total Posts: 1414
Country: United States

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.

Gene



Benzzene
Registered: Feb 07, 2010
Total Posts: 2286
Country: United States

Take all of the gear you have...Everyone knows about Bosque del Apache, but few know about Bernardo where a majority of the Sandie's and Snowie's spend the day eating.

To get there: Head North out of Socorro on I-25. Proceed about 20 miles and take the exit for US-60. Signs should say it's the exit for Mountainnair. When you get to the bottom of the exit, US-60 proceeds east and State-116 parallels I-25. Take 116 and about 1.5 miles you will see the fields on the right which are part of a state refuge. The entrance to the refuge is about 1/2 mile north of the farm buildings. Trust me...you will see the birds before you see the entrance.

Good luck and dress warm.

Benzzene



Adam Strochak
Registered: Apr 13, 2007
Total Posts: 249
Country: United States

Art, Gene, Benzzene -- thank you very much. Very helpful info. Looking forward to my trip.

Adam



randysc
Registered: May 13, 2009
Total Posts: 2121
Country: United States

+1 for Bernardo. And hook up with the Monkkey man if possable, Will is the expert for this area and could help you out and if you get a chance to shoot with him, I highly recommend it.

Randy



Adam Strochak
Registered: Apr 13, 2007
Total Posts: 249
Country: United States

Thanks, Randy. I'll be at BdA on Monday and Tues, Jan 7 and 8. If any other FMers plan to be there those days, please send me a note; happy for some company.

Adam



feikema
Registered: Aug 05, 2008
Total Posts: 348
Country: United States

Adam Strochak wrote:
Find myself with some free time in Jan and thinking about knocking off a bucket list item with a trip to New Mexico and Bosque del Apache NWR. I've checked out the NPS and Friends of BdA web sites, but I could use some practical tips geared toward wildlife photography. In particular looking for info on whether Jan is a good time to visit, best spots in BdA NWR for photography, places to stay nearby, and other nearby areas with good photographic possibilities. If someone can point me to a useful web site or prior FM post covering these topics, I'd be grateful.
Thanks,
Adam

I'll echo earlier comments (especially about the Monkey - aka Birdman of ABQ). As to accommodations, it is also worth looking at Dancing Cranes Guest House (contact info is here http://blog.feikema.org/?p=1357). It is a nice B&B frequented this time of year by photographers. Very close too.

Have fun!

Feik



Adam Strochak
Registered: Apr 13, 2007
Total Posts: 249
Country: United States

A couple more pictures. . .



feikema
Registered: Aug 05, 2008
Total Posts: 348
Country: United States

Adam,

Very well done. Reminds me vey much of my trip to BDA. Love the color of the light.

Feik



Storm300
Registered: Apr 24, 2005
Total Posts: 1200
Country: United States

Nice images Adam! I'll be there MLK holiday week. Can't wait! -Mike