I awoke shortly after five. In the morning. I had to get to the wildlife refuge before the birds got up. I was actually pretty excited. The birds I had seen the night before were pretty cool and I was pretty convinced that it would be cool to see them all take off in the morning. I drove frantically trying to figure out where it was I was supposed to go to find these birds. The first place I went seemed close and there weren’t many cars there. It was getting light. Damn. Where was I supposed to go? I saw some headlights on a road across the street. I headed on down the road looking for a way to get to where that road was; I found a sign for the Reserve and some Loop Road. A minute or two later I saw a sign that read “Flight Deck.” I am not making this up. Not far down the road were a bunch of cars and the promised “Flight Deck.” As I had now come to expect, there were a bunch of people with cameras with Really Big Lenses.
So here’s the deal as I understand it. These birds come to hang out here in New Mexico for the winter. At night, they hang out in the water. Apparently not many things that want to eat them can swim very well. There is not much food there in the water though. During the day, they all go out into nearby fields to eat grain and such. It would seem like these water foul would be content sitting the water all day eating fish, but my guess is that without Jesus at hand to tear the fish up to distribute, there just are not enough fish for all of these birds, many of which weigh about ten pounds each.
Here is what you do. You show up early and watch the birds as they start to wake up and start talking to each other. I think it goes something like this.
“Dude, I’m tired, why do those ducks have to wake up so early?”
“I don’t know man, I was hoping for a another half hour of sleep.”
“The early bird gets the worm, you know.”
“That, my friend is an old wise tale. I don’t think we’re going to find any worms. I’m cool eating seeds and stuff.”
“You ready to get going?”
“No, I’m going to walk around a bit first. Good thing we have long legs, and don’t have to just swim around like those stupid ducks.”
“I just talked to those guys over there, they say they’re about to start winging.”
“Geez, already? OK, whatever.”
And the next thing you know hundreds of birds take off all at once.
They seem to take off in groups, perhaps by species. These guys hung out for a long while. In fact, they were still there when I left the flight deck and most of the Birders left before I did.
After I left the flight deck, I went ahead and toured the rest of the loop through the Refuge. I got some pretty good shots of the birds having some breakfast.
Even with my limited skills and diminutive lens, I got a few decent shots of The Birds before heading out to find my own breakfast.