NEW MEXICO – photographic journal – 3 of 5

I arrive at Ladd S Gordon Waterfowl Complex, also known as Bernardo Wildlife Area for the hunters. Turns out the La Joya area this morning is also part of this complex.

This is what I have come to New Mexico for, only I wasn’t expecting it to be at this location. The Sandhill Crane, and Snow Goose migrations was to be the main focus of this vacation. It is a sight to be seen. I have only seen a few individuals in my life, back when I lived in Florida, mostly before I was a photographer. But to see them in mass like this is a whole different thing. The chatter of the colonies alone was musical, a symphony of sorts.

I went around the park a few times, stopping at different locations and walking to a few of the bird blinds to scout out an area for sunset. This isn’t really a hiking area. It’s mostly a wildlife driving loop with pull-offs and photographers lining the roads basically freezing to death. With temps in the teens (at the warmest times), and the wind gusts up to 20-40 mph all day… I wouldn’t say it was always pleasurable. Just a few minutes with skin exposed to the elements and agony would be swift and painful.

I left the park for a brief time as I wanted to check out some other local water sources nearby. Now that the hunters were done for the day, it was safe for me to explore. The evidence of death was everywhere. Shell casings and bloody feathers were all that was left behind. This isn’t what I had hoped to find. This will always bother me… a supposed wildlife refuge label: where the definition – ‘a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble’ couldn’t be farther from the truth.

On my last pass around Bernardo… I mostly shot from the RV as the temperatures were dropping into the single digits fast and heavy winds had been constant all day. I needed to conserve my warmth. As the sun was getting close to lowering, I quickly went to a bird blind I had scouted out earlier. At sunset, the birds leave the cornfields, and settle in for the night. In the water’s center, they are safe from predators. I set up the tripod, and watched the beauty before me. I’m the only one here. Just me, my frozen fingers, the setting sun, and a thousand birds. Total Bliss!

And now for the location that I drove 1500 miles to see. Click below to find out where!

STAY TUNED for NM – part 4 – to be cont’d

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