Mark and I have just finished our first week at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio, New Mexico. This place is truly a land of enchantment! Big sky, land, land, land, unbelievable light, mountains in the distance, and more. We wake up, lift our heads off the pillows, and watch the sunrise before we even throw back the covers; or sit outside to enjoy the sunset.
Beautiful fields of sunflowers are all around the refuge.
The refuge is across the street (all 57,000+ acres), so we run over there at dusk for a quick tour around the visitor’s loops to see birds, wild turkeys, coyotes, mule deer, birds, javelina, gorgeous sunsets, and, well, birds. (Turkey Vulture, Redwinged Blackbird, Coyote, Desert Cottontail Rabit, Black Crowned Night Heron & Comorant, Great Egret, Bull Frog, American Coot, American Avocet, White Fronted Goose, Black Crowned Night Heron, and Barn Swallows. Just in case you were interested!)
We were not aware that the refuge is one of 14 Land Management and Research Demonstration (LMRD) sites in the National Wildlife Refuge. Research is continuous, educational opportunities are everywhere – all to protect the habitat for 15,000 sandhill cranes, 40,000 snow geese and 60,000 ducks that should be arriving mid-October. The management of the land and WATER have brought the crane population back from near extinction. The habitat was damaged and destroyed by human action, damming the Rio Grande for agriculture and flood control, and invasive species taking over the wetlands. Now huge efforts must be made to manually mimic the flooding and drying of the land that once occurred naturally with the Rio Grande’s annual flood cycles. While the refuge is huge, there is still not enough natural food for all the birds who concentrate onto this and its neighboring refuges; therefore, they also grow corn and other crops to supplement the other foods. We have always been geeky – now it includes protecting the environment and BIRDS!
The Volunteer Village is a lovely place to stay.
Of course, a Wildlife Refuge will include creatures that can possibly be dangerous: We heard a chorus of coyotes this morning at sunrise, there are Diamondback Rattlesnakes throughout the area, and there are at least three Mountain Lions resident here.
The Globe Mallow is in bloom everywhere, its soft orange blooms are delightful to see.
We have just completed our first week of work too, and we are enjoying our fellow volunteers and the staff.
We will be 2 of about 40 volunteers this winter, so we will have lots of companionship, and will hopefully find some folks who will play Catan with us! Homemade pizza in the volunteer lounge tomorrow…
Thanks for joining us and our travels, stay tuned…