Life of Birds in Bosque

Oh, the Bosque del Apache experience…..

There’s graceful preening and flapping of wings along with gangly and glorious squawking, and gawking. There’s  territorial jumping, court like dancing and unison family take offs.   There’s highly anticipated, massive fly-ups of thousand of birds that can only be described as a primal, goose bump experience. It’s one of nature’s multi sensory phenomena that leaves us with that coveted, celebrated, sense of awe and wonder.  Okay, I could go on and on…suffice it to say my long awaited visit to Bosque del Apache was one I will not soon forget. If you are a bird lover as I am, it is a must. And if you are not a bird lover, you will be after experiencing this migratory event. There are thousands of birds gathered together in water and sky so close you feel as if you can reach out and touch their satin, blue-grey feathers. But, I must say, shooting these guys in the dead of winter is not for the faint of heart.  It was cold out there.  And in order to get the shots you must rise earlier than the birds at what is now often described as “dark thirty”.  

It did take me a while to get my “bird legs” back. I have been focusing for the last 5 years on seascapes in my home town of  Bandon and just have not had a lot of bird photography ops lately. But, I’ve been hungering for it and Steve and I finally made it happen. I tortured myself trying to get some flight shots in focus and waiting with freezing hands and feet for the birds to fly up in unison.  We all did. That’s what you do out there and it is well worth it.

My appetite is whetted and I’m ready and eager for more of my feathered friends. We are already planning our next wildlife adventure!  

As far as equipment goes; I used my trusty Canon 5D Mark III and alternated between my 500mm lens and my favorite 100-400mm zoom. At times I threw on the 1.4 extender to get a bit more length.  Light was often low during the wee hours so I shot anywhere between ISO 400 ~ 3500.  The ones that turned out the best were between the 400 to 2,000 range. Shooting as it got a bit brighter in the morn was really sweet. Fabulous fun and intensive work.  I will be back for more. Guarantee. 


Image courtesy Steve Dimock. I so enjoy the freedom to track and be nimble with my 100-400 sans tripod. Steve says…”there she is on the ground while everyone else is standing up with their tripods.” (Maybe I knew something they didn’t) 😉



Image courtesy Steve Dimock. This image with my 500mm lens is funny. Looks like I’m pointing at someone’s head…I really wasn’t! 🙂 (me in the very back)



 In shooting and in post process I attempted to make pretty vignettes of the Sandhill cranes and  Snow geese living their lives in these massive crowded ponds of water. The birds roost en masse in the water to protect themselves from predators and then they fly out at dawn to find their food. It was a fun challenge to make sense of the chaos in order to get an artistic rendition of “Life of Birds in Bosque”.

I have gathered a collection of some of my favorites for you to view.  I hope you enjoy and thanks for taking a peek! ~ Susan


Immature Sandhill crane in the foreground. They have such sweet feathers and a special beauty at this young age. Juveniles do not yet have the famous red heart crown. This is one of my very favorite images from our week at Bosque.  I always enjoy taking images of large birds preening and fluffing their feathers…. so elegant.



This was the most glorious sunrise and moonset of our one week trip! The colors were fabulous. And to think we almost didn’t get up on this day. The alarm went off and we were so tired that we vacillated….coffee helped get us going and so glad we did! So many early mornings in a row…can be a challenge. But the ‘ole “you snooze, you lose” really does often apply!



I pushed the white to the limit on this one in post processing and added a slight white halo. I was hoping to achieve a dreamy, ethereal feel. See the two little guys in the center looking up? 



I wanted to display the chaos and show the reflection of the birds flying over. That is what you are seeing in the foreground water here. Again, this was such a stunning morn.



Oh, so sweet trying to catch the bug flying over them. They look so happy to me.



Another pretty juvenile in the foreground.



How many birds are in this image?




The famous colorful sunsets of Bosque.They really are stunning with all of the cranes and colors in the pools of water.



It’s always fun to do blurs, especially when the light is still very low. Some are just begging to be black and white.





Size and color gradients as the Snow geese fly away.




“Flight Deck” Another one of my favorites. I’m not sure why except to say that I was trying to capture interesting, organized chaos and for some reason this one really works for me.




Silhouette potential galore at Bosque! And the cranes flying are just so gorgeous.




Again, some beg for black and white…especially Snow geese that are already black and white.




High key images really appeal to me especially in the winter when it depicts cold so well.



“Pink Pool Morn” Steve says “This one’s not doing it for me”, but I personally like it. Sometimes gotta just trust yourself and go with what speaks to you. We like to ask each other’s opinion. It is often very helpful. In the end, it’s all subjective, isn’t it. But if I don’t like what I hear sometimes I’ll say….”I’m not asking you anymore!” But then I always do again, anyway….  My wonderful guy. 🙂


Golden silhouette. Every sunrise and sunset I would look forward to seeing what color the sky would turn the water. 



I was going to label this one “Christmas Goose” but changed my mind. It put a terrible image in my head!!!



“Catching the Yellow Wave!”




Snow geese fly-up. Depicts large numbers! Goose bump stuff! No pun intended but it works. 😉




More of the action and chaos that I enjoy shooting! I love attempting to make it artistic!




You get in my space…I get in your face!!! And in that crowded arena it happens quite a bit as you can imagine.




Our prettiest sunset of the week. Loving the orange.



Lastly of course, titled “On Golden Pond”




This entry was posted in Susan's Blog.


  1. Bob Smith December 17, 2018 at 3:30 pm #

    The best set of Bosque images I’ve seen yet Susan. You always inspire me.

    • Susan Dimock December 17, 2018 at 7:38 pm #

      That is such a great compliment,Bob! There’s a lot of great images out there and it’s a tough game to try to make one’s own mark by getting something a wee bit different! We really had a great time and Bosque certainly did not disappoint! Have you been there?

      • Bob Smith December 28, 2018 at 4:01 pm #

        No, I haven’t been to Bosque Susan. Maybe someday I will fit it in. ..especially for the sunsets/sunrises. We have lots of opportunity here to shoot snow geese, with a large flock that stays October to January and stops in again on their way north in the spring and of course all the other waterfowl and shorebirds and raptors are here too in abundance. This years expedition was to Hagensborg,B.C. (near Bella Coola, on the B.C. coast) to shoot grizzlies. It was a wonderful privilege to be close to such magnificent animals and observe them as they went about their daily life, unaware of our presence ( except when one big boar did notice us and give us a mock charge–that was not the best shot of the trip but it was certainly the highlight).Your beaches are another spot on my trip map.

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