winter wonderland

View Gallery 6 Photos
Snow geese

photographs by Mark L. Watson

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge comes alive in the coldest months

The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, in San Antonio, New Mexico, was established in 1939 as a stopover point for migrating waterfowl. Though it is busy all year round and especially during the spring and fall migrations, in winter the 57,331-acre refuge becomes the temporary home for tens of thousands of sandhill cranes and snow geese, who take advantage of the refuge’s many ponds, lakes, and fields to rest, feed, and socialize. The early morning fly-outs and evening fly-ins are astounding sights, drawing birders, photographers, and nature lovers eager to witness the surprisingly orderly—if deafening—mass movements of these amazing creatures. The Bosque is one of New Mexico’s most impressive natural treasures. If you visit during the winter, an overnight trip will help you make the most of an already remarkable experience.Amy Gross


MARK L. WATSON is a wildlife biologist who has served as Terrestrial Habitat Specialist with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish for 22 years. An accomplished photographer and longtime birder, he has traveled to Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and South Africa to photograph birds and other wildlife, and his stunning images regularly grace the pages of Su Casa. Watson especially enjoys photographing raptors in flight, and capturing a rare or uncommon bird on camera. Several years ago at the Bosque del Apache he was able to photograph an extremely rare (to this area) rufous-necked wood rail, whose sighting inspired birders from around the world to visit the refuge. He remains ever hopeful about getting a second chance to spot a northern goshawk, the largest accipiter in New Mexico, a raptor he calls “rare, elusive, and hard to get a photograph of.” The photographs in this collection demonstrate Watson’s unique ability to capture the colors, light, and activity that make the Bosque del Apache an incredible place to appreciate nature.