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  • Writer's pictureDon Toothaker

More Than Meets the Eye

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio, New Mexico is a special place. The refuge, primarily known for its superb bird photography, draws bird photographers from all across the country during the annual migration period, but there is more here to see, and feel, than migrating birds. Time spent exploring the refuge is a must for every photographer.

Every fall and winter thousands of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese fill the fields, farmlands, and waterways of Bosque Del Apache. Their loud, colorful arrival in mid-November triggers the annual Festival of the Cranes and hundreds of photographers, myself included, pour into the refuge with hopes of capturing meaningful bird images. Lift offs, fly ins, and flight shots quickly fill memory cards with an abundance of worthy photos that showcase Bosque Del Apache as a world class birding destination, but every photographer needs to slow down and take in all that can be appreciated here. With almost 60,000 acres of grasslands, wetlands, and woods situated between the Chupadera Mountains and the Rio Grande River the refuge is a sprawling mix of habitat that is home to many species of wildlife. To drive the north and south loop roads you will commonly see ducks, deer, songbirds, eagles, hawks, owls, javelina, coyote, and, if you are very fortunate, perhaps even a bobcat or mountain lion. The wildlife opportunities are fantastic. That same loop drive takes you past beautiful vistas highlighting the rugged landscape and calm waterways. These scenes, when touched by the uniquely beautiful light of New Mexico, inspire a variety of landscape images that can be dramatic in color and black and white. Yes, there is much more to see here. Bosque Del Apache is a destination to explore thoroughly and, if you do so, you will be rewarded visually and spiritually. That, more so than the birds, will call you back.

Photography, for me, is an opportunity to capture how a moment , or a place, resonates with me. I first stepped foot in Bosque Del Apache, and New Mexico, five years ago and from the first moments I was transfixed. This place is unlike any other place I visit. The combination of land, culture, wildlife, and light, that amazing, magical light, truly does make this the Land of Enchantment. Visit once and it will stay with you for a lifetime.

Photograph What You Feel

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