Lately we've been so involved and occupied by what's going on with the people and events here at the Bosque that the blog posts are minimal. But it isn't that there is a lack of subjects about which to write. Oh no, every day seems to bring some new episode. To give you a glimpse, I thought I would relate a few of the typical and not-so-typical experiences connected with our volunteer positions of late.
In my role as the assistant to the Outdoor Recreation Planner, Daniel Perry, I am fortunate to interact with most of the volunteers and staff each Monday through Thursday when I'm "on duty." Daniel is a great boss and I'm learning a good deal about the workings of the refuge. My duties include helping to coordinate volunteer activities and scheduling refuge tours for school groups and scout troops. I also make the post office run each day. That means I drive Highway 1 out of the refuge, about six miles north, to San Antonio and then go an additional fourteen miles to Socorro to pick up the mail from the refuge P. O. boxes. On any typical day as I'm leaving , I will see Sandhill Crane families of three or four grazing on refuge food or perhaps winging across overhead to a sweeter spot on the farm loop. The families stay together until the young are ready to find a mate. My scenery might also be a bald eagle on the snag in the middle of the large pond where thousands of geese and ducks spend the day. Or maybe I'll see a hawk or two swooping for prey.
Sometimes I lend a hand answering the phones. A few days ago there was a lady who called to report a wounded bobcat about 20 miles outside the refuge. She somehow thought we would come to get the animal. She was determined and kept calling back to give us reports. We did let her know that we called the local animal rescue in her area. But, regardless, she called back to say that she had decided to approach the animal herself (not good!). But wait .... when she did she found it was an "owl." Big difference, huh?? Well, best of all, she had the owl in the car and was bringing it to us. All we could do is let nature take it's course if she did arrive. We directed her to the rescue organization. You can never tell what people will do or say, right?
Meanwhile, Jerry is out on the slope mower cutting the tall grasses and overgrown brush along the walls of the ditches/canals throughout the refuge. You may have seen the equipment that has a large arm extended out to the side, hanging over and down an incline to cut. It's another one of those jobs that one might not think of as a part of the habitat management on a refuge. But it will keep him occupied for four months. His job takes him to many opportune spots to see the wildlife. Recently he was pausing in his mowing to rest his neck from the continuous sideways craned position when he noticed a coyote across the channel. He spent ten minutes or so watching her search the area very thoroughly as his machinery ran loudly just twenty feet away. She worked diligently without even paying a bit of attention to him sitting across the way. Perhaps she thought he couldn't reach her, or maybe she had observed him from afar earlier and decided he was no threat. Just as long as she's out of his mowing perimeter, all's well.
Speaking of animals and people interacting, there was the visitor to the Bosque who couldn't understand "why there aren't any birds here." Well, first of all, that's a slight exaggeration. As of the last count there were 8,000 Sandhill cranes, 15,000 snow geese and hoards of other birds. But this person came on a day when many of the snow geese chose to stay at the refuge about 40 miles north -- food was tastier. He wanted his money back ($3.00 a day) because someone should have made sure that the birds were on the refuge for visitors to see. Well, I guess the waterfowl didn't get the memo.
But I'll end this post with the most mysterious happening. For two or three days Mother Goose was visiting with us. One of the volunteers is stationed in the fee booth each day during the busy winter season. It is sometimes a lonely job if the flow of guests is down. Well on one weekend a couple of weeks ago, Dorothy, a very animated and sometimes mischevious volunteer was working her turn at the booth when a lady stopped her car and got out. Most people just hand the money to you and go on through, with perhaps a question about where to see certain animals. Well this one was not ordinary. Dorothy noticed that she was talking to herself but thought, "we all have days like that." Then she noticed that the lady was holding something in her arms. As she walked around the car, Dorothy could see what she thought was a goose. The owner informed here that the animal was actually a Peking duck. She wanted to be sure that Dorothy knew that "they" had driven all the way from California so that her friend could see his "cousins." Oh yeah, you should know that this woman was wearing a large brimmed hat, long skirt and a cape. But wait, it gets better, she wanted to know "Is it alright if he decides to take a swim with his cousins later?" Well, Dorothy had to tell Mother Goose that it was not permissable for her friend to take a swim at the refuge.
I have to say that we all listened to this story with a little skepticism, as Dorothy is quite the entertainer, to say the least. But dear Mother Goose appeared again on the next two days. She was a friendly sort and allowed photographs with her companion, situated in the passenger seat wearing his little pouch attached to the underside of his tail for obvious reasons.
I think we will have a hard time coming up with a tale to top this one. But you never know what may happen at the Bosque.