Bosque del Apache has turned into an annual trip. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it this year as we’ve gone through a move and are in the middle of a full house renovation. The trip was a quick one. I arrived Friday evening and left Sunday morning. Although the trip was a short, it was well worth it.
I rented the Sony 600GM from LensRentals.com as I’ve always wanted to shoot with the big primes. If you are in need of a lens or camera or just want to test out a lens you are thinking of purchasing, I highly recommend LensRentals.com. Exceptional service all around!
I own the Sony 200-600 and it’s a very sharp lens that has served me well. After spending several days with the 600GM, it’s on another level. It should be…as it costs about 7x more than the 200-600. What was shocking the first time I picked it up was the weight, it is so well balanced it felt lighter than the 200-600 even though it’s 2lbs heavier.
The focus acquisition is astounding! It just snaps on the target…it is something to behold. If you are in the market for the 600GM, push the buy button, it’s everything people have said about it and more.
On to the images and some thoughts about Bosque del Apache. Be sure to click on the images to see the large version of the image. I made it to the refuge around three in the afternoon. Each time we’ve visited the place changes, water management is essential for the local wildlife and migrating birds coming in from the north. The first observation area has been empty the past couple of years, this year they worked on the pond area and it’s full. This is the place to capture shots of the cranes/geese/ducks at sunrise. The warm light comes in from the east and illuminates the birds. A lot of people make their way to the flight deck viewing area in the morning. It’s great to see the birds take off in mass however, they are backlit and if you are looking for silhouettes, this is the place to be.
Once you enter the refuge the main pond where the flight deck viewing area is located has very little water in it. I believe they are going to add water to it later this month for the incoming birds. I do hope so as this is a great location in the evening to see the birds come in to roost.
The main pond at the flight deck viewing area is a great location to see the occasional eagle way off in the distance, sitting on the single dead tree in the middle of the pond. It’s way out there! This shot was taken with the A1+600GM + Sony 1.4xTC allowing me to capture the shot at 840mm. I was further from the tree as I parked down the road from it.
Here’s the same shot with the A1+600GM + Sony 1.4xTC with the camera set to “crop mode” for a perceived 1260mm. The lens really pulled out a ton more detail than I ever anticipated.
Once at the flight deck area I noticed some movement in a cluster of trees, it was a cooper’s hawk. There wasn’t an opportunity to capture a decent image of the hawk as it was deep inside the canopy of the tree. Making my way over I noticed it was moving from branch to branch, it eventually settled on a broken tree limb with an unobstructed view. I couldn’t have asked for a better spot! Here are two shots of the Cooper’s hawk, I moved slightly and this allowed for variations in the way the background turned out.
The goal this year was to visit Bosque at the end of October, I missed taking the trip by about a week (no complaints). In the previous years we’ve visited the trees had turned colors already and were brown throughout the refuge. My idea was to attempt to capture images of the birds in flight with the colorful trees in the background. The timing of the trip worked out well, most trees had vibrant colors.
Here’s a panoramic shot (four images combined) of a location on the west side of the refuge. This area hasn’t had much water in it in previous years. I thought the colors with the mountains in the background made for a nice image.
The sandhill cranes were not in the thousands as I arrived early in the migration but there were plenty of opportunities to capture shots of them. Here are some shots taken around 10 or 11 in the morning. The cranes and other birds were actively feeding in the fields.
Cranes are not the only birds in the area. While photographing a few pelicans a great blue heron decided to fly in and enjoy the pond.
While driving home back to Sierra Vista, I decided to visit the area I grew up in southern New Mexico. I recalled seeing antelope in the area when I was a kid and I hoped to see some on the drive. It’s been almost 30 years since I was in the area and I was lucky enough to run across a small group. The images are not print worthy as heat distortion really impacted the quality of the shots. That being said, they are not bad for the web and for the memories.
It was a great trip even if it was as short one. I can’t wait to go back as the place is ever changing and the animals are always a challenge to photograph.
Thanks for taking the time to view this post and for the visit to my site.
Take care all.