Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Entrance sign, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

I grew up in Roswell, New Mexico. One of the places where we often went for family activities and school functions was Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, located along the Pecos River just outside of Roswell. I had not visited the refuge since the 1970′s, and so I recently decided to take a trip to Roswell to visit friends and take some photos at Bitter Lake.

I arrived at the refuge on Friday afternoon in time to take advantage of the beautiful late afternoon light. The first thing that I noticed was the new (to me) Joseph R. Skeen Visitor’s Center, which was completed in August 2006. The visitor’s center is located on a bluff that overlooks the refuge, and it has large windows and a deck that are designed to take advantage of the views.

Joseph R. Skeen Visitor's Center, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Joseph R. Skeen Visitor's Center

The view from the deck is lovely!

View from the Visitor's Center deck, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

View from the Visitor's Center deck.

I drove around to familiarize myself with the surroundings. The red bluffs to the west of the refuge are really beautiful.

Snow Geese and Northern Harrier, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Snow Geese and a Northern Harrier fly over Bitter Lake.

There were hundred of Red-winged Blackbirds singing in the reeds and cattails at the edge of the lake.

Red-winged Blackbirds, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge,

Red-winged Blackbirds

Here is a short video of the birds:

As I listened to the Red-winged Blackbirds, I watched the sun setting over the lake.

Sunset over Bitter Lake

Sunset over Bitter Lake

The next morning I arrived at the refuge before sunrise to watch the fly-out. When I arrived, Snow Geese were flying over the visitor’s center.

Snow Geese, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico.

Snow Geese fly over the visitor's center.

I watched as waves of Snow Geese flew out to graze in the surrounding fields.

Snow Geese, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Snow Geese fly out.

The Sandhill Cranes waited until a bit later to fly out.

Sandhill Cranes, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Sandhill Cranes

I was able to get a few photos as they flew overhead.

Sandhill Cranes, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Sandhill Crane fly-out

Sandhill Crane fly-out, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Sandhill Crane fly-out, a closer view.

I looked across the lake at the visitor’s center. From this angle you can really appreciate the lovely view from the large windows out over the lake.

Joseph R. Skeen Visitor's Center, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

View across the lake toward the Joseph R. Skeen Visitor's Center.

There were many Buffleheads on the lake. I enjoyed watching them “run” along the lake surface as they took to the air.

Bufflehead, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Bufflehead takeoff.

A Northern Harrier hunted over a marshy area.

Northern Harrier, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Northern Harrier

The weather, which had been lovely, began to get chilly, and I went into Roswell to meet friends for lunch. The weather improved later in the afternoon, and I returned to watch the evening fly-in. I was too early for the Sandhill Cranes, but large numbers of Snow Geese began to fly in.

Snow Geese fly-in, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Snow Geese fly-in

As it grew darker, White-faced Ibis flew in as well.

White-faced Ibis, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

White-faced Ibis

This is a short video of the fly-in:

As I left Bitter Lake to have dinner with friends I stopped to watch the beautiful sunset. I have always thought that the sunsets in Roswell are extraordinary.

Sunset, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Sunset, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Although Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is not nearly as well known as Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, New Mexico, it is a lovely area, and well worth visiting.

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13 Comments

Filed under New Mexico bird photography, New Mexico birds

13 responses to “Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

  1. Wow, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is gorgeous, thanks for sharing it through your images and words Linda. If I ever get to Roswell I will be sure to visit the refuge. Great post!

  2. Kerry

    Nice like the Redwings. Wow. Hardly any of them here anymore.

  3. Nice to hear the Snow Geese and the Red-winged Blackbirds, Linda. Great just to listen to the video. Love the shot of the geese flying over the visitor’s center.

  4. Cindy

    You grew up in Roswell..that explains your supernal photography ;-) Lovely post..glad you went back to visit a childhood haunt & shared it with us..

    • Er, yes, I did grow up in Roswell. I was also born 9 months after the alien crash. But enough about me. ;-) Happy that you enjoyed the post. It really is a lovely place!

  5. I liked the series. Great photography. I’m new to WordPress and have lots to learn.

  6. A fantastic looking refuge Linda. Wonderful photographs and videos.

  7. Hi this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to
    manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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