It appears thatg someone crashed myblog and erased all the blogs published after September 2012. I could recover a few but others I had to redo from scratch again. I did not know how to be able to restore them in chronological order, but all are back.
My first reaction was to quit publishing blogs but then, whoever deleted them would have won. So I will conitnue and appreciate the support that I have received in the past from the bloggers.
The last time I visited Bosque I thought it was the last but
here I was in mid-December.Most people
come to photograph the sandhill cranes and the other migratory birds that spend
the winter here.What keeps me coming
back is the larger numbers of waterfowl in the 100’s of thousands.In the mornings, the unison blast-off of
thousands of snow geese as the sun emerges is a spectacle as impressive as that
of the ungulate migrations in East Africa. Not just the seeing the white clouds
of feathers rising, but listening to the roar caused by the flapping of the
wings, as the birds raise above the water impoundments where they spend the
Bosque Del Apache is a man-made refuge for wildlife where
crops are planted to feed them.So it is
not a natural habitat but is like a resort for the migrating birds to spend the
winter in a protected area from hunting with a source of food.As soon as they leave the area, they are
subjected to hunting and rare is the day that one does not hear the blast of
guns along the boundaries of the refuge.Bosque is the ideal habitat because it provides food, a hunter’s free
zone but most important, the water provides a relative safe place from
predators to spend the night.
The first morning I arrived in mid-December I was lucky to
observe a group of sandhill cranes chasing away a coyote.This predator was hiding in the brushes in
the shoreline waiting for the cranes to get closer but it was discovered.The alarm was given and group of the birds
formed a vigilante posse and escorted the frustrated coyote away.
The routine at Bosque is to get to the park early in the
morning from nearby Socorro early to secure a good photographic spot and wait
for the blast-off of the snow geese or the sandhill cranes living the
impoundments in small family groups.The
competition for space is noted; at times having photographers fighting for a
specific waterfront spot.
The number of photographers is usually large and mostly
carrying long telephotos mounted in tripods; some use 2-3 systems on tripods to
include recording devices and fire them selectively with wireless
controls.Some use one camera for
traditional photography and others for videos.And this is why I ask myself why do I keep returning to Bosque?How many photos do I need of this place?With so many photographers going there, is it
not rational to go to places where no photographer has gone before.But are such places left in the world?
Most activity occurs in the early morning when the birds
depart to feed in fields outside the park and at sunset, when the birds return
to water impoundments that offer protection against predators to spend the
night.In between, I ride a few times
along the loops inside the park and then I go roaming around the rural roads
photographing landscapes and abandoned farms? Sometimes on catch surprises as
the screech owl above watching the tourists passing by without been discovered.And at the nearby park headquarters in the
cactus garden, the Gamble’s quails are easy to photograph.
One day, I drove to the refuge of Bernardo, where the birds
feed in the corn and alfalfa planted by the government.This was different with some of the
cultivated fields still standing and a range of mountains as background
offering a different landscape than the one at Bosque.
While here, I noticed a herd of about 15 mule deer with a
male with a big rack at the edge of the cornfield just watching me.Suddenly they started running out in to the
open field where the snow geese were eating and resting.As the mule deer approached they all took off
to move out of the way landing again just a few feet away.This is one of those rare occasions when
being at the right place allows photographers to capture unique events.
My biggest photography challenge is air travel.Been able to carry a backpack aboard a plane
is becoming almost impossible due to the rules and to their loose
interpretations by the gate and flight crews.But thanks to the I-Phones, in the near future there may no need to
carry 30-40 pounds camera gear in a backpack.My friends were admiring the quality of the images and videos taken with
such phones…the miracles of modern technology.
The Tierra del Fuego is at
the southern tip of South America.The
name originated back in 1520 when Magallanes discovered the channel that bears
his name.He eHe saw numerous fires in the shoreline that the Indians
lighted to attract them to land. The name means Land of Fire in English. This
narrative addresses the Chilean part of the big island that is shared with
Argentina.About the images; most are
processed using HDR and others were converted to black and white.
Sheep ranching still is the dominant industry
but the heydays were between the 1880’s up to the 1920’s; it is said that
around 1914 there were ¾ of a million sheep in the island. The wealth generated
from these haciendas can be observed by the extent of the buildings in the
haciendas but mostly by the fabulous homes that the owners built in Punta
Arenas. The Menendez residence is an example of one of the many mansions there (I
previously posted a blog regarding it that can be found by scrolling down and
searching for previous blogs).
The first hacienda that one
encounters driving to the Tierra del Fuego by road from Punta Arenas is San
Gregorio that was founded by Menendez in 1878 and later expanded to more than
200,000 acres.The major complex of
buildings is dissected by CH-255 highway that parallels the Straits of Magellan.Most of the buildings are in a stage of
neglect but some are still in use. Two of the buildings were full of sheep
skins that seemed abandoned and left to rot.
There is graffiti in some of
the walls as well as vandalism scars.Chile does not seem to be concern with its
past other than erecting a sign declaring the site to be part of the national
patrimony; at the pace of destruction due to the extreme weather and human
action, not much these historical gems will
be left in 20 years.
In the shoreline of the
hacienda there are two ship wrecks; one is the Amadeo that was owned by
Menendez.It is maiden trip to Punta
Arenas it brought bricks from Uruguay that was used to build the Menendez
Mansion.It was not really wrecked but
abandoned after about 50 years of service.In another half century all may be left would be the bronze propeller and
arriving at Punta Delgada, one waits for the ferry to cross the Straits of
Magellans in an area called the “Primera Angostura”; here is where Magellans
entered into the Straits in 1520 from the Atlantic Ocean.After arriving at the big island, one is
welcome with pampas that extends as far as the eye can reach..This
area is next to the border of Chile and Argentina and it obviously demonstrated
at the Faro Espiritu Santo, where military outposts from both country face each
other. The shoreline is spectacular at Punta Catalina Beach at susnset.
south down Rt. Y-71 one arrives at the Hacienda Onaisin.It is the original estancia Josefina founded
in 1883 and the first in the Tierra del Fuego. It is situated in a windswept plateau
as seen by the beaten trees.There is a magnificent manor house that long
abandoned still preserve the architecture of better days.
several structures in this hacienda but the one that I found more interesting
was the clinic with a complex roof arrangement.The interior I colorful and in a stage of gracious abandonment, what a
down the road is the “Cementerio Ingles” where the earlier english colonizers
were buried. Some of those here were killed by the indians.A sad charpter of the history ofTierra del Fuego is that the introduction of
the sheep led to the elimination of the indians but that is another story.What a barren place to spend Eternity.
discovered there in the river beds in 1879 that caused a great influx of
immigrants.The rush did not last long
and by 1909 the gold was exhausted.Below is one of the “gradas’ used to mine the gold.This particular mechanical dredge arrived
from England in 1904 and operated until 1910.
Father south the Estancia
Vicuna established in 1915 was the last one that I found with architectural
merit to photograph.The corner towers
gave it a special attraction; as the others is also abandoned.And this is the end of this blog; the next is
further south in the mountains where I encountered extreme winter
I happened to be in Punta Arenas at this time but had no
idea of such a carnival taken place.Imagine a carnival in the middle of the winter and with freezing
temperatures.It was an amazing
accomplishment by the community with various private businesses, schools and
cultural organizations participating.The carnival went on July 20-21, 2013 and it is held annually.
There were between 35-40,000 people attending the Carnival
according to the local officials.I
arrived at a park that was the starting point of the carnival.Participants waited for the start adjusting
the outfits, practicing the dances and tuning the musical instruments for the great
The grand ladies paraded at the front of their social groups
with gorgeous big dresses carrying flags and moving to the rhythms of their accompanying
And the scanty dressed ones…how did they manage?They were batucada dancers with fancy outfits
and moving real fast and energetically.Surprisingly you could see the drops of sweat running down their faces;
the fast action protected them for the cold. They received the most
exclamations of excitement and received the most applauses and calls.I wonder why?And yes, I photographed them all.
Participants paraded in an assortment of interesting
costumes with original designs as well as some imitating famous characters from
the movies.Something for everyone to
The Gauchos and their horses were also representing their
various clubs and of them came from others nearby towns as Porvenir and Natales.Men, women and children paraded but what
amazed me where the young children that were still awake; this parade lasted
more than 4 hours.One note about Punta
Arenas is that it has a large street dog population and they were to be left
out of the parade.
One of the groups that were over-represented was the auto
clubs to the extreme that they took a large amount time, even the dogs
complained at their numbers.These were
mostly souped-up sports cars with fancy paint jobs, loud speakers and fancy
fluorescent lights.However, there were
not many motorcyclists.
And then there was a variety of participants in costumes or
just plain citizens observing those marching in the parade, as well as other
competing photographers searching for the best angle or warming their cameras.
A peculiar thing I notice was that Saturday the Queen of the
Carnival in the float was different from the one in the Sunday.I must say that the most original outfit was
the one of the penguins marching; this was the most appropriate since there are
large colonies of penguins in the vicinity of Punta Arenas. And the guy with
the jumping shoes was the most hilarious; he fell on various occasions but was
a sport, stood up and kept going…wonder if he made it to the end.
Every great time must come to an end and say good bye with a
grand finale to Saturday night with a great display of fireworks in the Avenida
Costanera.The parade ended Sunday night;
it was a repeat of the previous night and the time for the awards.Sadly, I did not win any, but I had a great
time despite my frozen toes.