Birds and a Bonus Mishap

Hello, Internet! I’ve been taking a break to sort out some personal business, so let’s jump back in with both feet, shall we? I’ll try to make up for lost time by posting a whole pile of photos I made at one of the sweetest spots in New Mexico: the Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge.

Sam and I were there back in December, when I did a takeover for the Travel New Mexico Instagram account, and if you’re traveling through, make sure you visit the refuge.

It’s near the town of Socorro, a fine little town, although the night I was there for dinner my waiter, a transplant, said he wanted to move to San Francisco or New York, complaining that he couldn’t even get blood oranges in Socorro. It seemed a bit extreme to move to a huge city just for produce, but what do I know.

Onto the photos:

Birds and a Bonus Mishap

I started out on this trail, excited to get to the end to see the famous birds en masse I’d heard so much about. Apparently they ascend in the morning and fly in in the evening, and I thought I had timed it right to see the evening fly-in.

Birds and a Bonus Mishap

This landscape reminded me of the African Savannah.

Birds and a Bonus Mishap

There’s water everywhere at the refuge, hence all the wildlife.

Birds and a Bonus Mishap

Okay, one more of that bench spot. The light and line were just right.

Birds and a Bonus Mishap

I was getting closer, readying my camera for what was sure to be a beautiful capture of all the birds settling in.

Birds and a Bonus Mishap

This is at the end of the trail, but I’m not sure four birds count as “en masse.” So I waited. And waited.

Birds and a Bonus Mishap

The birds seemed to have no interest in going anywhere, so it was on to Plan B. I got back in the car and drove around to the other side, and when I saw this I thought, aha! Maybe they set their watches wrong and would do an en masse liftoff! A few birds were even practicing!

Birds and a Bonus Mishap

That practice run was just a tease, so I got back in the car and wandered some more. Luckily at the Bosque there’s no shortage of beauty, fly-in or no.

Birds and a Bonus Mishap

Even the plant-filled waterways were beautiful.

Birds and a Bonus Mishap

Spoiler alert: this is as close as I got to a mass fly-in. What’s the deal, birds? Don’t you know you’re supposed to perform on command for the humans? So selfish.

Here’s where the day took a turn for the interesting, if by interesting, you mean stupid and annoying.

I did something I’ve never done before: I locked myself out of the Pilot. Which isn’t a huge deal since I have AAA, but the complications included a) the one local AAA lock guy was an hour and a half away, b) Sam was in the Pilot, and unfortunately hadn’t been trained in car unlocking techniques so was unable to help, c) the sun was setting and since it was mid-December, it was about to get really cold and – wait for it – my coat was in the Pilot. Next to the keys on the seat.

So. Sam’s in the car, wondering why I don’t stop with the profanity and just get back inside, and I’m noticing that I seem to be the very last person in the park. Even the gate attendant had gone home, and I’m starting to shiver so I leaned against the Pilot’s hood for warmth from the engine.

Not a remotely life-threatening mishap, but I knew it could get unpleasant if the AAA guy was later than expected, so I got moving. I had my iPhone – always carry your phone! – and I wandered around, wringing the last drops of beauty out of the day.

Birds and a Bonus Mishap

There was this.

Birds and a Bonus Mishap

And this. (Notice: not flying in! I’m pretty sure they never actually go anywhere.)

Birds and a Bonus Mishap

This is when my hands started going numb, since it was 21 degrees outside, and it’s the last photo I made. Notice the ice on the pond. Gorgeous, no?

I ended up doing laps around the lot at the entrance to stay warm, and mercifully Mr. AAA did arrive when he said he would. Super nice guy, and he let me sit in his car with the motor running so I could thaw.

He used this interesting system of inflatable pillows to wedge open the door wide enough to get a hook in to get my keys out, which is great, except it tripped the car alarm. In the bird sanctuary. After dark. So picture me, jumping out of his car and racing to every nearby pond and waterway, apologizing out loud to all the freaked out birds.

Mr. AAA didn’t bat an eye, just another day working at the Bosque, apparently. He handed me my keys, Sam jumped out and did a jig of joy, I thanked the nice man, and we all got on our way.

And you know what? Even with all that racket those birds stayed put, so I didn’t even get to witness a startle-induced ascension. Sigh.

P.S. I’m getting back to a weekly posting schedule, and am currently in Moab, UT. I try to post a photo every day to Facebook and Instagram, so if you want a Scamp livestream, check those out.

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  1. Susi April 18, 2016 at 7:28 pm #

    Ah, a favorite spot, including the Owl Cafe. Great green chili burgers. We saw an en mass fly -out of snow geese EARLY in the chilly morning in January.
    ( 2007) Sounded like a jet airplane going off, with no signal from any bird beforehand. Cranes were still stilting and half asleep. Is the Bird Watchers Campground still there?a

    • deonne April 18, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

      Susi – I’m so envious you saw an ascension! I tend to not be very good at getting up and out that early, so there’s that. I’m not sure about the campground, as I was boondocking in a rest stop nearby. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Ron Hagg April 19, 2016 at 7:44 am #

    Deonne – these are spectacular – your photos are inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

    • deonne April 19, 2016 at 7:50 am #

      Ron – That’s so nice, thank you for saying so. It’s always my pleasure to share, and I’m happy to be getting back to the blog.

  3. Manisha April 19, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    Lovely photos, as usual. Actually quite stunning this time, the light and your skills are amazing! My horoscope for this week said that I would feel intense jealousy or envy but I didn’t believe it as I looked around at my life. But then I come to your blog and find that you are in Moab? Damn! My emotions flared when I read that and indeed I do feel intense jealousy and envy! Moab! Can’t wait to see THOSE photos. Tusher Tunnel is totally worth it if you are seeking a mild adventure, if you don’t mind me suggesting….
    Manisha recently posted…amber is the color of your energyMy Profile

    • deonne April 19, 2016 at 8:35 am #

      Manisha – First off, thank you for the very kind words about the photographs. I do feel like the work is getting better, so that’s satisfying. And I know how you love Moab! I’ve been grounded here for some minor trailer repairs so haven’t been able to get out much, but we’re back on the road today and heading back into Canyonlands (I’ve got to get a photograph out to Redding, CA for a show by 4/30, so I can’t linger too much longer). I didn’t know about Tusher Tunnel (fun name) but now that you’ve told me I’m definitely going. Thank you!

  4. Sherry in MT May 2, 2016 at 7:34 am #

    Ahhhh the locking keys in the car thing! Yup been there! Your pics are pretty darned awesome as always. Love all the different lights and those darned snow geese do the same thing here – just don’t cooperate! I think I finally got the mass fly in (or rather out) shots I wanted last year – after 6 years of driving up there in the middle of the night and freezing my patooties off. enjoying the Scamper pics on FB!
    Sherry in MT recently posted…Camera Still Works!My Profile

    • deonne May 2, 2016 at 4:44 pm #

      Sherry – So glad I’m not the only one. 🙂 Sounds like you have to work for the fly ins/outs – not sure I’m that motivated, ha. Glad you’re enjoying the photos on Facebook!

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