Eagles congregated at the edges of the geese flocks waiting patiently and watching intently. This adult Bald Eagle perched on a snag in front of the Marsh Deck as the sun set below the distant mountain range.
The highlight for me though was the numbers and variety of falcons present. The big immature female Prairie Falcon I photographed above was only one of the 5 species of falcon I saw on the refuge during this trip. Others included Peregrine Falcons, and at least 2 individual "prairie" race Merlins (richardsoni). These birds differ from the more typical dark race of Merlin seen across most of the country by showing longish tails with many alternating light and dark bands of equal width. American Kestrels were the most abundant falcon species though.
immature Aplomado Falcon, digiscoped at Bosque Del Apache NWR
The big surprise though were two individual Aplomado Falcons that were hunting the refuge daily. This rare raptor once inhabited both sides of the Rio Grande River, but were extirpated here in the US. Recent introduction programs in Texas and here in New Mexico allow us to once again see this attractive bird here in the states. It was fantastic watching this bird sally out and chase dragonflies. They are incredibly stunning to watch, with their extra long wings and tails. Just one of the MANY highlights from the trip!