I woke up at 4 AM on a cold Saturday morning and readied for my trip to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, about 9 miles south of Socorro, New Mexico. I had to drive approximately 2 hours and be there just in time for sunrise. You see, the 57,331 acres Refuge is the winter home of tens of thousands of birds – including sandhill cranes, Arctic geese and ducks. According to the Refuge’s website, as many as 14,000 cranes visit the place during the winter months.

“The Bosque is also home to over 32,000 Snow Geese and Ross Geese, dozens of Bald Eagles and Goldens, Great Blue Herons, Occasional Pelicans, Avocets, and many, many other birds. This beautiful Refuge is also home to small herds of Mule Deer and families of Coyotes.”

I had to be there before sunrise to witness the “Fly Out”. It is a one-of-a-kind event when the birds fly out from the refuge, and in doing so, the flocks cover the skies, literally. No wonder why it is called one of the most spectacular refuges in North America.

Go directly to the observation deck.

The deck is just a couple hundred meters away from the entrance gate. This is where photographers convene with their tripods and long camera lenses.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

At a distance are flocks of birds enjoying the wetlands.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Watch them fly over you.

I was unlucky not to capture the moment when majority of the flocks flew. My camera lens failed me. Damn DSLR!
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

North Loop first.

Drive through the north loop first. Here is the map of the refuge. Why the north loop? I find this loop much more exciting that the other loop because of the presence of more cranes and geese.
bosque-apache-map

Be refreshed with nature.

While winding through the loop, drive very slowly and appreciate the beauty of the refuge.
 Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

About 377 species of birds.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Few come close to visitors.Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Most try to camouflage.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Stop at observation decks.

There are designated decks to view hundreds of sandhill cranes along the loop. Here are few of them.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

..and hundreds of them!

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Snow geese abound.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Crops are grown for the benefit of the birds.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Take the south loop next.

It boosts with more wetlands.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

…and beautiful scenery.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Find the John Taylor Jr. Memorial Trail.

There is a mountain lion!
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Check out the Visitor’s Center.

The Visitor’s Center opens at 8:00 AM and closes at 4:00 PM every day. The Center is worth checking out.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Gift shop.

While the gift shop has so many interesting things Bosque-related, most items were pricey. I skipped buying any.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Notes:

– I saw a bald eagle atop a tree. Too bad my camera can’t zoom very far.
– Don’t make too much noise. You do not want to scare the birds.
– Wear thick clothes when visiting during winter. Early mornings can get chilly.
– As I said earlier, arrive early to see the fly-out. There is also a fly-in during sunset.
– Bring a vernacular if you have one.
– Are pets allowed? Check this link from Bosque del Apache NWR.
– Most importantly, please pay the entrance fee of $5, even if no one is attending the ticket booth early in the morning. There is a drop box available for fees.

Location and contact.

Address: 1001 State Highway 1, Socorro, NM 87801
Phone Number: 505 835 1828
GPS coordinates: 33°52′9″N and 106°50′34.6″W

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