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Bosque del Apache NM Bird Migration Regional Event (December 3-6, 2023)

December 3, 2023 - December 6, 2023

Leader | Travel and lodging | What to expect | Preliminary itinerary

Registration is now open

Event Overview

New Mexico’s Bosque del Apache is well known for its concentration of birds, especially Sandhill Cranes and Snow/Ross geese and ducks. Join Maresa Pryor-Luzier as she takes you to various locations in Bosque del Apache to capture all this refuge has to offer, from birds to scenic beauty, landscapes to macro subjects. Field trips will occur during the prime light hours in the morning and afternoons on Monday and Tuesday.  Our shooting time will wrap up on Wednesday morning at Bernardo Wildlife Area, then everyone will gather for a final farewell brunch.

Established in 1939 to provide a critical stopover for migrating waterfowl, the Bosque del Apache refuge is well-known for the thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl that winter there each year. Situated between the Chupadera Mountains to the west and the San Pascual Mountains to the east, the 57,331-acre refuge harbors a wild stretch of the Rio Grande, a ribbon of cottonwood and willow trees visible on the landscape from distant mesas.

Bosque del Apache is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a national network of lands and waters set aside and managed for the benefit of wildlife, habitat, and you.

Bernardo Wildlife Area is part of the Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Complex off SR 60 East, with a total acreage of 1,675 acres. Bernardo Wildlife Area was purchased in 1971 to provide habitat and food for wintering waterfowl.   It is quickly becoming a must-see for bird photographers.

Cost: $525 NANPA & ASMP Members/$725 Non-members

Last Date to Register:  November 26, 2023

Maximum number of attendees: 10

Sandhill cranes land in flooded field in Bosque del Apache NWR, NM ©Maresa Pryor-Luzier


Maresa Pryor-Luzier

Maresa Pryor-Luzier – As a founding member of NANPA, Maresa began her career in the early 80’s after studying photography at Daytona State College. She worked as a photojournalist then stock photographer in Florida specializing in birds, macro, and travel. Her works are seen worldwide in magazines, books, wall art, and other materials.

Her recent endeavors include author of a series of children’s books, lectures, and leading past regional photo workshops for NANPA in Ding Darling, Merritt Island, and Bosque del Apache.


Travel and lodging

Comfort Inn & Suites
1259 Frontage Rd
Socorro, NM 87801

Telephone: (575) 838-4400

NANPA is holding a block of rooms for event participants:

  • 1 King Room (2 available) $98 per night + tax
  • 2 Queen Room (18 available) $98 per night + tax

Note the NANPA block room rate includes free breakfast, WiFi and parking.

To book a room at this discounted rate, call the hotel directly and mention that you are making a reservation in the NANPA block of rooms.

The last date to book a room in the NANPA room block is November 2, 2023.

Airports and Ground Transportation

Transportation to and from the hotel and during the event is not included and is the attendee’s responsibility.

  • Car Rental: A regular rental car will be fine; we will not be driving on roads that require extra clearance or 4×4

Ride Sharing:  We will be starting each day from the Comfort Inn and Suites in Socorro, NM. Ride sharing is encouraged to reduce the size of our vehicle presence and improve the traveling/following experience. You are welcome to either drive or ride with someone. This is also a great way to meet people and make new friends during the event!

Note that NANPA does not have insurance for carpooling arrangements and assumes no liability for them. Carpooling, ride sharing or anything similar is strictly a private arrangement among the participants. Participants assume the risks associated with this travel.


All meals except Wednesday’s Group Brunch/Lunch are on your own.  The location of the Wednesday Group Lunch, which is included in the event registration fee, will be shared at the Meet and Greet. Attendees are encouraged to eat together with their group as part of the overall experience.

Snow goose coming in for a landing, Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico ©Maresa Pryor-Luzier

What to expect

Photography Locations:

Some of the locations that we will most likely photograph include:

  • South Loop: Seasonal ponds along the route.
  • North Loop: Along Bosque Road, Coyote or Willow Deck, seasonal ponds, and Flight Deck.
  • Bernado Ponds

Your leader will have visited the areas prior to the event and the field trip locations will be based on what’s most photogenic at the time, weather conditions, etc.  These will be announced on Sunday evening during the Registration/Orientation.

Health and Fitness

Most photography will be by car or require short walks along the ponds.

Weather & Clothing

The elevation is 4500’ so temperatures in central New Mexico can range from the 20’s-30’s overnight to high 60’s during the day. Bring winter jackets, gloves, sun hat, comfortable boots/hiking boots, wool socks, and sunscreen.  It can be windy with a slight chance of snow. Plan on dressing in layers since weather changes are likely.

Camera Gear:

There will be many opportunities for birds and scenic photography so you may need a range of telephoto (400mm or larger) to wide-angles. Recommended length starts from 100-400 range, and a longer focal length will be a benefit if you have one to bring. Bring 1.4x or 2x Teleconverters if you have them. Be sure to bring a sturdy tripod with a ball head/gimbal head.  Polarizing and Neutral Density filters would be helpful, especially for sunset shots.

Please know your camera and settings before you arrive and bring your camera manual just in case we need to look something up.

If you don’t have a lens longer than 400mm, you can rent a lens and gimbal head (a useful accessory for long lenses) at (NANPA receives a small portion of each sale), at or through the loan program offered by your camera manufacturer. Note: If you’re using a long lens, a sturdy tripod is a must!

Other Recommended Gear:

Flashlight or headlamp with red light setting, extra batteries, memory cards, cable release, and chargers for everything.  We will be photographing in high desert conditions, so it’s a good idea to bring a bulb brush or small 2” wide paint brush to brush sand from your gear.


We will be based in Socorro, NM during this regional event.

Please keep in mind that this NANPA Regional Event is designed to be a photo tour, not workshop. That said; don’t be shy about asking Maresa for help if you need it. This tour is open for 10 participants to give each plenty of time with the leader and to retain flexibility based on weather and the best opportunities.

This event is designed for all levels of photographers – amateur, intermediate, advanced, and professional – interested in improving their photography skills or looking for location guidance to capture images of this magical park.  If you are new to photography, Maresa will be available to answer questions, teach new techniques and help you improve your photographic skills.  If you already have plenty of photography experience, Maresa will ensure that you’re in the best locations at the best times for those perfect shots. Other participants are also great about sharing techniques, tips, and ideas.

Attendance and participation at NANPA Regional Events is limited to registered attendees only.  Anyone wishing to participate in any portion of, or travel with a registered attendee during the group event must contact the NANPA office and pay the full registration fee.

Sandhill Cranes in flight, Bosque del Apache NWR, NM ©Maresa Pryor-Luzier

Preliminary itinerary

Please note schedules are fluid due to weather conditions, and other variables.

Sunday December 3: 

  • 6:00 pm Orientation and Meet & Greet at the meeting room at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Socorro, New Mexico.  Participants should plan on eating dinner before the meet & greet.

Monday, December 4th and Tuesday December 5th: 

  • 5:00 am Depart for Sunrise photography at the flight deck, then onto the crane ponds.
  • 3:00 pm Depart photographing at various sites

Wednesday, December 6: 

  • Morning shoot at Bernardo Wildlife Area
  • 11 am: Group lunch/brunch (included in the event fee)
  • The event wraps up after lunch at approximately 12:30 pm.

Regional Event Cancellation and No Refund Policy:  

NANPA will not offer any refunds for registrations for this event regardless of when the cancellation is made or the reason for the cancellation. NANPA reserves the right to cancel any event or activity due to insufficient registration or any unforeseen circumstances. NANPA will offer refunds if NANPA has to cancel the event. It also has the right to substitute presenters if those originally scheduled cannot attend. Registrants may purchase event insurance as part of the registration process through NANPA’s partner, Allianz. More information on this option will be shown during the checkout process for the event registration.

NOTE:  If you do not purchase event insurance at the time that you pay for your registration, you will NOT be able to go back and purchase it with Allianz later.

If you choose to purchase travel insurance separately, you can do so with your own insurance carrier, or NANPA members can receive a special travel insurance rate through USI Affinity/Travel Insurance Services


December 3, 2023
December 6, 2023
Event Category:


USA States/Territories
New Mexico
Type of event
On Location
Cost range