More Cranes at Sunset

Looking over the photos from our recent trip to the west coast, I remembered I had shot some video clips of the Sandhill Cranes arriving at their overnight roost on the Rio Grande floodplain at Bosque del Apache, New Mexico.

It was an all-too-brief encounter, but the video will give you an idea of what it was like…

They have an impressive wingspread when you see them up-close.

Sandhill Cranes, Bosque del Apache, NM

Sunset at Bosque del Apache

Bosque del Apache (literally “woods of the Apache”) is a 3800 acre wildlife refuge in the floodplain of the Rio Grande River in southern New Mexico that was set aside in the late 1930s as a wintering spot for waterfowl.

Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

One can look down on the flood plain of the Rio Grande River from an overlook a couple of miles away.  We had no idea how many thousands of birds were concentrated there.

And thousands of birds do congregate here from November to March. Snow Geese by the tens of thousands (more on them later), dozens of ducks of all kinds, and of course, the one we had come to see, hundreds, if not thousands of Sandhill Cranes.  Fortunately we arrived just as the light was turning golden, and developing into a beautiful sunset. (Click on the photos below to view them full screen and use the back arrow to return to the blog.)

Sandhill Crane, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

Sandhill Crane, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

The Snow Geese don’t seem to mind that Sandhill Cranes walk through and over them.

Sandhill Crane, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

Hundreds of birds congregated in a shallow lake right next to the road through the refuge, completely unperturbed by all the photographers lined up on the shore about 100 feet away.

Sandhill Crane, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

As is usually the case with Sandhill Cranes, they continually vocalize as new birds fly in, landing often in the middle of a clump of others.

Sandhill Crane, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

Sandhill Crane, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

The beautiful Sonoran desert

I love the varied topography and vegetation of the Tucson area, and especially up in the foothills of the Catalina mountains on the road to Oracle (what a great name). Here are some views of the mountain landscape from Catalina State Park at sunset today.

Catalina Mountains, Tucson, AZ

Catalina Mountains, Tucson, AZ

Catalina Mountains, Tucson, AZ

Catalina Mountains, Tucson, AZ

magical sunset light

The changing light from yellow-orange to orangey-pink to pinkey-blue over just 15 minutes last evening after sunset at Lake Josephine in St. Paul, MN.

Lake Josephine sunset (St Paul, MN)-1

7:23 pm

Lake Josephine sunset (St Paul, MN)-2

7:32 pm

Lake Josephine sunset (St Paul, MN)-3

7:37 pm

Why do we enjoy sunsets so much?  Are we wired to appreciate that rosy glow?  Is it symbolic of something, like the comfort of a warm campfire, or the end of the day, or do we (as a species) just really like the color orange?  I’m curious what you think about this question. Thanks for commenting.

Mangrove lagoons in Puerto Rico

Mangroves line the shorelines of Puerto Rico and its many island keys, where ever the wave action is limited.  The most noticeable are the red mangroves that grow from the shore into the salt water, supported by a tangle of prop roots.

Red Mangroves

The roots not only support the plants but catch debris, leaves, and sediment floating by which supports a community of organisms that feed on it.  This  is further enriched by droppings of the birds that roost in the mangrove branches at night.

While the mangrove forest above the water supports a terrestrial community of life,  the maze of roots below the water line offer protection for small fish and invertebrates that make up the underwater community.

While the mangrove forest above the water supports a terrestrial community of life, the maze of roots below the water line offer protection for small fish and invertebrates that make up the underwater community.

Red Mangroves are so dense you could never walk through them, but they make intriguing waterways for kayaking.

Red Mangroves grow together in such density that you could never walk through them, but they make intriguing island waterways for kayaking.

kayaking in mangrovesIt was a quiet on this particular day in the mangroves, no birds or fish to be seen.  But there was a pretty terrific sunset.

sunset in the mangrove swamp

Dramatic light

Perhaps one of the most inspirational scenes to capture on film (or digital media) is the light on land or sea at the beginning and end of the day.  As light travels a longer oblique path through the denser atmosphere close to the horizon, more of the short blue and green wavelengths are scattered leaving just longer red and orange wavelengths to travel toward our eyes.  Throw in a few clouds to further refract light and you get a dramatic scene like those below.  I was inspired by fellow bloggers (who have recently posted on this same topic) to look through sunsets/sunrises I’ve photographed from around the world.

Mediterranean sunrise in Turkey

Sunrise from our sailboat on the southern coast of Turkey in the Mediterranean (most recent trip).

Sunrise in Capetown, South Africa

Sunrise over Capetown, South Africa.  We were on a ship going around the world with Semester at Sea.

Sunset, Kismet hotel, Kusadasi

Sunset at Kusadasi, Turkey, on the Aegean Sea in the Mediterranean.

Siem Reap sunset

Sunset view from one of the temples near Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Sierra sunset

Nothing is more beautiful than one of these sunsets from our campsite in the Sierra Nevada mountains.