The only other real problem was Wednesday afternoon. We headed up north to a New Mexico state wildlife refuge called Bernardo. It held a lot of promise, but the incoming cold front was cranking up some serious winds, which seemed to pick up all the dust New Mexico had to offer. This is one of the only times I can remember seeing a wall of dust coming at me from miles away.
I think our prize bird was the Roadrunner. He was extremely cooperative and did exactly what his name suggests, running along the road. We followed him for a while before he cleverly turned down a road we weren't allowed on.
Things for me to remember, or for any other photographers reading this:
- Staying in Socorro is great. Close to everything. We stayed at America's Best Value Inn which was basic but very clean and comfortable. The owner is up putting out a simple breakfast well before our pre-sunrise departures.
- The brew pub across the street had great food. Frank and Lupi's Sombrero Cafe was also good. There's a nice coffee shop about a half mile from the hotel, but they don't open until 7:00. We did get lunch there and it was very good.
- Make sure you don't just do Bosque del Apache.
- Give serious consideration at sunrise to the crane ponds on your right, just before you get to the visitors center. The sun is rising right behind you and you get great light on the birds. You miss the big goose blast-off, but we didn't care.
- Head north 20 miles to Bernardo. It's 3 mile loop was spectacular in the middle of the day.
- Pay serious attention to the wind direction. The birds take off and land into the wind. If they are landing away from you, all you get is their backs which makes for boring photos.
- It would be nice to have a day to just focus on the other stuff: bobcats, coyotes, ducks, hawks, ...
- We got lucky with our rental car. We rented a full-sized Sedan, but Alamo was out of them. They gave us a minivan, which is great for throwing cameras and tripods into the back. I hung out with my gear in the back seats while Dick drove with his cameras next to him. I would definitely try and get a minivan on any other photography jaunt with two people.