I enjoyed a nice adventure this morning by joining an Albuquerque photography Meetup group at the Rio Grande Nature Center. We met at the Visitor’s Center parking lot this morning, and then were guided by a staff member on a loop walk north and then south in the Rio Grande Bosque.
The main interest of the participants was watching birds, and our party would pause here and there before clusters of trees to look at whatever was spotted sitting within their branches. I enjoyed trying to see birds, but because my telephoto lens was a little less powerful than that of most there, I just used the morning to continue to try and learn about using my camera- which included, at one point, frustration at the appearance of a small kidney-shaped mote in the middle of my viewfinder that lens wiping did not fix. Fortunately, a frequent flyer in the group listened to my perplexing quip of frustration, and pulled a Rocket-Air air blowing dealie out of his backpack that knocked the blemish off of something in the camera body that let it be an obstruction.
The highlight of the morning stroll, besides the therapeutic benefits of walking quietly in nature early in the morning, was when we paused before some Center volunteers at a path junction and one of them, a knowledgeable young man, took some time to introduce us to several of the birds common to the area, and he showed us one of the morning captures of each- birds caught and tagged and released for study purposes.
At the end of the walk we ended up at the viewing patio on the west side of the Visitor Center where, from behind a wall, you could observe and take pictures of birds on a small lake created for the center. I took a nice chunk of time just taking pictures of ducks cruising around on the water in packs, playing with manual settings to learn about setting selections and image results.
I then took a quick stroll through the garden area south of the visitor center and said goodbye to a few acquaintances from the observation group along the way, and then I headed back to the parking lot.
I made one last stop at the viewing stand off of the parking lot to snap a few more pictures of the many birds there.
I had a number of delightful moments from the morning. I enjoyed seeing geese flying in formation over nearby fields. I enjoyed listening to the young man tell us about each bird he showed to us. I enjoyed seeing (from afar, through a monocular) a porcupine sleeping up in a tree. I enjoyed watching a bald eagle soar up over the bosque, circling over our heads, as we were intent to look at lesser birds. I enjoyed taking picture of a wood duck at a relatively close range, being fascinated by its bright red eyes.
I also enjoyed how much those among the group who were birders talked in low tones about the classifications and characteristics of the birds they saw, or hoped to see, on today’s walk. I was impressed at their acute interest in specific species, in whatever creature sat on a tree branch, in the seemingly most common birds one might find out in the bush and brush. These birders, though, they knew what made two similar appearing sparrows different- in appearance and behaviors, and it made me think about Matthew 10:31, and how God feels about those common creatures: ” Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” The birders’ enthusiasm for each kind of bird in the Bosque reminded me that God’s love for His creation and His creatures is perosnal, and persistent, and attentive. It was a great spiritual reminder for me today. God is passionate toward each of us like these birders are towards the Bosque residents.