Readers’ wildlife videos

Our Official Website Videographer™, Tara Tanaka, has been back after a journey out West to do more filming. She’s given us a peek at four videos that will soon be on her Vimeo page but are now on her Flickr page. To see these best, go to the Flickr page (click on the video to see the arrow and title appear, and then click on the title to go to the video on Flickr, where you can see it much enlarged).

Tara’s introduction:

We just spent a month at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Reserve in New Mexico, and I’ve uploaded 4 videos from there, plus one that is about 20 stills transitioned together – all on Flickr.  When I get home and I have the bandwidth I will also upload them on Vimeo, but if you want to link to them on Flickr you are welcome to.  It’s a fantastic place, and I have a lot more photos to post when I have time!

Here are the videos with information:

2016-10-31. Flock of twenty-two turkey gobblers eating grass seed (and one with a fear of frogs)

We were fortunate to come across a large flock of gobblers yesterday in perfect light, and with the 1000mm of my digiscoping system I was able to stay far enough away from them to keep from spooking them. I had no idea that this was how they eat seed – it was fascinating to watch and film. When they went down to the water for a drink, it made me laugh when the gobbler jumped when a big frog jumped from in front of him.

I only shoot photos and video using manual focus, and this video of the birds in the tall grass would not have been possible using AF, as the camera would have constantly been trying to focus on the grass in front of the birds.

2016-10-31 Flock of twenty-two turkey gobblers eating grass seed (and one with a fear of frogs)

A windy morning dawns at Bosque del Apache NWR. Dancing on the wind,

Dancing in high winds must be a lot of fun when you have wings.

A windy morning dawns at Bosque del Apache NWR - Dancing on the Wind

2016-11-08. Sandhill Cranes—A Time to Dance [a sequence of stills]

I was photographing Sandhill Cranes in flight when I glanced down to see a dance starting right below where I was following a pair of cranes. I quickly focused on the dancing pair and shot a burst of 20 raw photos. I wanted to share more than one, so I combined them into this short video. I’ve never seen Sandhills dance this high in the air.

Digiscoped using manual focus.

2016-11-08 Sandhill Cranes - A Time to Dance


2016-11-11 Sandhill Cranes stream across a New Mexico sky

This is but a small taste of what it’s like to be surrounded by Sandhill Cranes arriving at Bosque del Apache NWR, just after sunset. The sounds are as much a part of the experience as the sights. Most of the calling is from birds on the ground, “talking” to and calling in the new arrivals. It’s a truly magical experience.

2016-11-11 Sandhill Cranes stream across a New Mexico sky

2016-11-12. There’s always one that stands out from the crowd

Last night I videoed hundreds of Sandhill Cranes arrive on their wintering grounds at Bosque del Apache NWR. When it was almost completely dark and I was photographing silhoutted cranes in the water, I noticed a leucistic Sandhill that looked different from the one I’ve seen a few times at the refuge. This morning when I arrived before sunrise the beautiful crane was among the many gray Sandhills, getting ready to leave to feed for the day. This is definitely a different bird, distinguished by the nude colored skin patches on the legs and face, and by the gray patch on the back of its head.

Digiscoped in 4K using a GH4 + 20mm/1.7 + Digidapter + Swarovski STX85 scope using manual focus.

2016-11-12  There's always one that stands out from the crowd

The Flickr page is also loaded with great photos. Here are but two:

Sandhills at sunrise. Digiscoped before sunrise using manual focus, 1/5s.





  1. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Wonderful images, Tara – the videos and the stills!
    What a wonderful place Bosque del Apache appears to be. Unfortunately it’s not very conveniently reached from the north of England but – who knows? – one day perhaps!

    • Posted November 28, 2016 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Jonathan! If you love birds and want the ultimate birding experience – visit Bosque del Apache NWR in November. The birds start arriving in late October, which is when we arrived. There were only a handful of cranes and geese, but with every passing evening more and more arrived, until there were thousands of cranes and geese when we left a month later. I think that the videos capture the atmosphere so much better than any photo possibly could. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must certainly be worth a million.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Great video. Birds learned the finer points of aeronautics millions of years before we first viewed them. They are still teaching us.

    • Posted November 28, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Randall! We had very high winds in our last days, and watching the cranes, especially the juveniles, negotiate crowded landings in stiff winds was both interesting and entertaining.

  3. Stephen Barnard
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Excellent work, as usual.

    • Posted November 28, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Steve! If I lived where you do I’d be down there all the time.

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted November 28, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        It’s true that I have to start getting away more in the winter. They’re brutal here. I’ll take your suggestion of Bosque del Apache seriously. For this winter, I think five weeks in New Zealand will scratch my itch.

  4. Posted November 28, 2016 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Very beautiful, thanks for sharing these!

    • Posted November 28, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Steve! If I lived where you do I’d be down there all the time.

  5. Jenny Haniver
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    These are beautiful and illuminating photos, as usual. Thank you. Even though these are sandhill cranes, I can never think of cranes without this exceptionally enigmatic and haunting line from Callimachus coming to mind: “Let the cranes fly south to Egypt when they lust for pygmy blood.” This has to do with Greek lore, which had it that pygmies and cranes were always at war. Anyone interested in the folklore of cranes, see this excellent paper by Paul Johnsgard, an ornighologist at the Univ. of Nebraska: Many interesting things therein, particularly the material which developed out of actual if sometimes misperceived observation, though with imaginary attribution and development (such as the putative-fanciful origin of some Greek letters, ex., Lambda, which, like the other Greek letters, actually comes from the Phoenecian alphabet). And here’s a link to Native American crane mythology

  6. rickflick
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    These make me wonder what it would be like to be a sandhill crane.

    • Posted November 28, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Jenny. Thanks for all the great info – I’m looking forward to reading it!

    • Posted November 28, 2016 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      I missed. That was to Jenny.

      Thanks Rick. All of their take-off’s and landing look very laborious. They have large wings, but such heavy bodies by comparison. They are so magical to be around.

  7. John Conoboy
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Lovely. I have been to the Bosque many times but have never seen turkeys. Did get to see a Whooping Crane there many years ago, but sadly they are all gone. For anyone interested, there is a annual Festival of the Cranes every year at the Bosque del Apache Nat. Wildlife Refuge the week before Thanksgiving. It is well worth the effort for a visit.

    • Posted November 28, 2016 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Thank you John. We were there for the festival, and it gets really crazy and crowded. The roads at Bosque are VERY dusty, so when there is a constant flow of traffic there is dust that sometimes makes photography impossible in certain locations, depending on which way the wind is blowing. We arrived two and a half weeks ahead of the festival, so I shot from the decks a lot then knowing that there would be too much noise and movement on them when the crowds arrived.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Your videos and stills are always a welcome sight. Thanks!

    The turkey’s seed gathering is wild. They also seem to enter flight easily, with just a little jump their aloft.

    • Mark R.
      Posted November 28, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      their?…I meant “they’re”…damn those theres

    • Posted November 28, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Mark – I’m so glad you enjoy them! Yes, unlike the cranes, a short flight is easy, but I never seem them flying long distances like the cranes, who have to put forth a lot more effort to get airborne.

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