Bosque del Apache, NM- 2019

NANPA Regional Event – Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

December 5-8, 2019

Event Details –

Join professional photographer Cathy Illg as she takes you on various locations to capture all this refuge has to offer, from birds to scenic beauty, landscapes to macro subjects. Bosque del Apache is known for its bird concentration, especially Sandhill Cranes and Snow/Ross’ geese and ducks. Field trips will occur during the prime lighting hours in the morning and afternoons on Friday and Saturday. Our shooting time will wrap up on Sunday morning, then everyone will gather for a final farewell brunch.

Snow Geese lift off-©Cathy & Gordon Illg

About Bosque del Apache NWR-

Established in 1939 to provide a critical stopover for migrating waterfowl, the refuge is well known for the thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl that winter there each year.

Situated between the Chupadera Mountains to the west and the San Pascual Mountains to the east, the 57,331-acre refuge harbors a wild stretch of the Rio Grande, a ribbon of cottonwood and willow trees visible on the landscape from distant mesas.

Petroglyphs tell the story of an ancient people that lived and hunted here. The river and its diversity of wildlife have drawn humans to this area for at least 11,000 years when humans migrated along this corridor, sometimes settling to hunt, fish and farm. Artifacts and stone tools found nearby tell us that nomadic paleoindian hunters pursued herds of mammoth and bison in the valley.

Today, Bosque del Apache is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a national network of lands and waters set aside and managed for the benefit of wildlife, habitat and you.

©Cathy & Gordon Illg

What to Expect –

This tour is designed for anyone who is interested in improving his/her photography skills and receiving valuable coaching, as well as professionals interested in capturing images of this dramatic region.  This tour is limited to 12 participants.


©Cathy & Gordon Illg

Just the Facts –

Date: December 5-8, 2019; Check-in December 5 @ 6:00 p.m.

Cost: $495 NANPA member, $695 non-member (includes Sunday Brunch)

Location: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM

Last date to register: November 20, 2019

Maximum number attendees: 12

Bosque del Apache Regional Event Cancellation and No Refund Policy:  NANPA will not offer any refunds for registrations for this event regardless of when the cancellation is made or the reason for the cancellation. NANPA reserves the right to cancel any event or activity due to insufficient registration or any unforeseen circumstances. NANPA will offer refunds if NANPA has to cancel the event. It also has the right to substitute presenters if those originally scheduled cannot attend. Registrants may purchase event insurance as part of the registration process through NANPA’s partner, Allianz. More information on this option will be shown during the checkout process for the event registration.

NOTE:  If you do not purchase event insurance at the time that you pay for your registration, you will NOT be able to go back and purchase it with Allianz later. If you choose to purchase travel insurance separately, you can do so with your own insurance carrier, or NANPA members can receive a special travel insurance rate through USI Affinity/Travel Insurance Services.


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Lodging –

Best Western Socorro

1100 N. California Street
Socorro, NM 87801
Phone: 1-575-838-0556

Cut-off Date for Room Block: November 20, 2019
Rooms: $98.00/night plus tax

NOTES: A block of rooms has been reserved under NANPA.  Call the hotel to make reservations and mention NANPA North American Nature Photography Association rate when registering.  This room rate is not available online.

Leader –

Cathy Illg – Cathy has been a full-time nature photographer since 2000. Her work is widely published and includes numerous covers of magazines like Backpacker, National Geographic Kids, Ranger Rick and National Wildlife, as well as the Wildlife As Canon Sees It ad in National Geographic Magazine.  

Several of her images decorate the tails of Frontier Airlines’ jets, and she has done well in photo contests, including Nature’s Best, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and Bio Photo Contest. She collaborated with her husband, Gordon, on their first two books, Dynamic Wildlife Photography and Worshipping With A Camera, both of which have been well received. The two of them are co-owners and co-leaders for Adventure Photography Photo Tours, and for the past 17 years their livelihood has been dependent upon their ability to share the magic of wild things and wild places with other photographers.

Photo Locations –

Locations will depend on conditions on the refuge at the time. The following locations may be visited:

North Crane Pond – A great spot to practice flight photography.  Hundreds of cranes spend the night in this pond. It is the smaller of the two ponds and the cranes tend to be a little closer to the road but this changes each year depending on the amount of water in the pond. The hills behind the pond are a little lower than those behind the south pond. Due to changes in water management, snow geese often join the cranes in the morning at this pond.

South Crane Pond – A photographer can never get enough practice at flight photography and Bosque is one of the best places in the world for it. Hundreds of cranes spend the night in this pond, it is the larger of the two ponds and the cranes tend to be a little further from the road but this changes each year depending on the amount of water in the pond. The hills behind the pond are a little higher than those behind the north pond. Due to changes in water management, snow geese often join the cranes in the morning at this pond.

Main Impoundment – There is nothing more breathtaking than seeing thousands of geese takeoff at sunrise; this is where it happens. Once the geese “blastoff,” they either take off for the cornfields or settle back on the water providing more photography. The Snow/Ross’s geese often lounge in this impoundment during the day and all it takes is for a coyote or bald eagle to provide plenty of excitement.

Marsh Loop – This road takes you around the south end of the refuge where you may see ducks galore, cranes, snow geese, roadrunners and raptors.

Farm Loop – This road takes you around the north end of the refuge, depending on what crops are planted, this is one of the places where the geese and Sandhill cranes spend the day feeding.

The Bernardo Waterfowl Area – This Area is special as it contains a three mile vehicle tour loop and three elevated viewing and photography platforms. This is a great area for winter viewing of migrating birds.  This area is located north of Socorro on Interstate 25, Exit 175. Together with the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge to the south, they feed half of the water birds that winter in the Middle Rio Grande Basin.

Schedule –

Locations and times can change depending on conditions.

Thursday, December 5: 6:00pm Orientation and Meet & Greet

Friday, December 6 and Saturday, December 7: photograph at various sites

Sunday, December 8: Morning shoot, followed by a group lunch/brunch which is include in the registration fee.

Sunday Group Brunch–11:00am together included in registration fee.

Meals: All meals are on your own except Sunday brunch, which is included in the event registration fee. Attendees are encouraged to eat together as part of the overall experience.

Transportation: On your own. We will be based at the Best Western in Socorro, NM.


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