Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge,
9 miles south of Socorro, New Mexico.
Tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes, snow
geese and a myriad of other birds and wildlife
make these wetlands home throughout the
year. Intrepid birders who brave below-zero
temperatures to arrive an hour before winter
sunrise, are rewarded with a mass fly-out –
the snow geese taking the first shift. With the
first light of dawn, thousands of geese take off
in unison – your senses completely overtaken
by the cacophony of sound as they call to one
another, while wind created from their flapping
wings creates a breeze across your face.
Frozen feet and hands quickly take a backseat
as you revel in this magical moment. Even the
seasoned, done-this-before, professional
wildlife photographers with lenses 4-5 ft long,
are energized by this daybreak phenomenon
as the snow geese recede into the distance.
In the few minutes that follow, the sun's rays
begin to peak over the horizon. A lull has
enveloped the marsh. The Sandhill Cranes are
getting ready for their equally impressive
departure; but, for the moment, there is a
peaceful and palpable quiet.