Monday, November 06, 2006

Reacclimating to the "real world" through Nature

Thousands of snow geese from Canada visiting for the winter.

We left Albuquerque a bit earlier than we needed yesterday. That's because there were a couple of stops I wanted to make during the drive home. As we descended from a nice weekend of distractions, we found ourselves being overtaken by realities we had managed to escape for a day or so.

Like, just before we entered the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in the middle of a vast deserted desert, an oncoming train approached and blared its whistle at us as it passed. A banner and flag draped affair consisting of five passenger cars, we later learned it was carrying Governor Bill Richardson on a campaign tour up New Mexico's Rio Grande valley.

But for the next hour or so, we would divert our attentions from the *real world* by focusing one last time on the beauty of Nature. We wanted to see how many migratory birds had already arrived from their chilling climes up north. Obviously, many.

A great blue heron

The very first visitor to greet us as we crossed over the small bridge to the refuge entrance was this blue heron. He was very patient as we shot him. And just across the road from the heron rose a cacophony of voices in the form of thousands of squawking snow geese. It was an incredible symphony.

Lone bald eagle perched atop dead tree at pond's edge.

A birdwatching couple with an enormous telephoto lens pointed out a bald eagle. He looked very lonely, perched atop a dead tree in a pond where the landscape seemed to slope upward towards the extreme right. Removed from the crowd and so seemingly alone, he reminded me a little of president Bush.

Thousands of fearful, jittery snow geese take flight at a bald eagle's command to be fearful, to "Be very afraid!" (It seemed to work extremely well, causing Dada to ponder if these were really geese, or just another big flock of frightened turkeys.

But moments later, the eagle spread his wings and took flight, flapping furiously towards the snow geese. And the geese instantly became fearful, thousands of 'em rising in flight in reaction to the eagle's warning they should be scared. I was very amused at the reactions of the geese to the eagle who seemed to be reminding them all why he should remain top bird.

I guess I was regaining my *real world* mindset reeeal fast!


azgoddess said...

beautiful pics...we get a few heron's her ein the desert this time of year...i love their sound..

D.K. Raed said...

Those Great Blues are special, huh. az will appreciate: first one I ever saw in the wild was in a refuge around Wickenburg. I think it was called hassayampa (river that flows upside down). He was hiding across a little muddy creek in some overgrown wild palm skirts. Some people coming back down the trail alerted us, or we would never have seen him. Luckily we had binocs. He wasn't inclined to talk to us though, so I don't know what they sound like.

A few yrs ago, a wildlife rescue lady let me into the room of one she was nursing, gun shot by kids. He was all stretched out on a long cot, doped up from surgery, but still managed to raise his head & stare me right in the eye. He wasn't in a talkative mood either, I really felt his pain & outrage.

so, dada, the bald eagle must be the alpha-bird-dog? ~~ D.K.

meldonna said...

I like your take on the "pecking order", so to speak. It seems almost a shame associating something as beautiful as an eagle with W, though. I've only seen two bald eagles in the wild, and both times it absolutely took my breath away.

The patient heron is cool, too. Thanks for the pics, D.

dada said...

az: I'm trying to remember if I've ever heard a heron. I have it in my mind I have because the first one I ever saw up close was in a suburb of Portland, OR, in my brother's backyard, in his pond, eating his beautiful koi!

What we missed this trip to the refuge was the sandhill cranes. Hopefully we'll return again this season because last time we were there we found where they spent the night and it was dusk as these magnificent birds came gliding in for a landing just 20 feet over our heads. That's probably another great sound, the sound of wings not flapping, just gliding.

After that, we went through Hatch, now dried out and red with chile ristras. I thought of your trip, just before the floods I believe.

dada said...

Raed: A couple of years ago while walking my two dogs on a trail at the nearby Wilderness Museum, I had the chance to exchange stares with a "stick" the dogs had just passed without notice. As I noticed the stick had rattles, the other end raised its weathered old head and our glances at one another collided in silent relief and mutual respect. He was lying totally stretched out in a straight line basking.

I liked your story of the heron raising his head and glaring at you. Think maybe it was thinking something like, "Another damn visitor? How's a person s'posed to get any rest around here?!"

dada said...

Mel: You're welcome. Glad you liked 'em. I know, I know, I hated comparing that eagle to Bush--a real predator. But watching that eagle's power to launch hundreds of snow geese to nervous flight, well, I just couldn't help draw the comparison. It IS an unpardonable sin just the same.

meldonna said...

Don't feel bad about a great metaphor -- the sin IS pardonable due to its transitory nature.

As for finding a creature so loathsome as to deserve to be permanently associated with Shrub, I'm tempted to nominate those oversized cockamaroaches -- you know, those fly-at-you waterbugs that I'm stumped to find any redeeming value in, and the buggers are actually aggressive to boot -- but even they don't make my skin crawl like W.

Maybe Jabba the Hut would work...

D.K. Raed said...

yikes dada, sounds like you & the dogs narrowly escaped that rattle-stick. You know the rule on the trail, first one by just wakes 'em up, second guy makes 'em mad, it's the third man that takes the bite.

mel, we had those horrid flying roach-thingies in palm springs. There they were called Date Beetles. After having one repeatedly attack us one night in our hot tub, we went on a kill-mission. Those guys are like armored tanks & don't go down easily. We flailed around with a broom & dripping wet towel, mostly knocking ourselves & patio furniture into the pool. After many hilarious attempts, he was finally grounded, but it took a sharp shovel to behead him before we were sure it was dead. True story, Metaphors be damned! ~~ D.K.

azgoddess said...

yes hatch - - actually i was there the day it flooded -- we had just gotten off the highway to take the shorcut to az...and saw the streets start filling up...we wait about 5 minutes -- and soon realized that we were not getting thru and if we didn't leave soon we would be floating down the we turned around

the heron sounds like this:

(it was said tongue in cheek - their sound is more of an yelling than a song)

D.K. Raed said...

az, there's a Hatch down there, too? we have one here in UT which my husband nicknamed Orrin. Teensy town half-way between Zion & Bryce.

I was interested in what a great heron sounded like, but couldn't access your link, rats! The last part is cut-off, the part after heron. Plus it started asking me to login my member number. I subscribe to Groucho's attitude towards memberships: I don't care to be a member of any group that would want me for a member.

Oh well, I like your description ("more yelling than a song") !!! ~~ D.K.