the new Albuquerque Open Space Center

The other day, we decided to do something a little different and
enjoy some down time after all the time spent remodeling the bathroom.
We had intended to take a walk for about an hour.

First we headed to the new open space park and visitor center in the
North Valley to see the sandhill cranes.  This is a beautiful public
building with exhibit space for the open space information and some art
exhibit space as well.  They also have a wonderful meeting room that
can be reserved and used by the public.

The
building overlooks the bosque (“BOSS-kay”), which is the land along the
river full of big trees, mostly cottonwoods.  Earlier in the year they
planted the fields with corn and grain, then cut down the dead stalks
and left the corn and grain on the ground for the sandhill cranes,
among others, to feed on.

This is as close as we could get to the sandhill cranes that day.  The
whole area is fenced in, with an observation platform next to the open
space visitor center building.  There are some trails along the fence,
and we walked as close as we could get.  See those gray blobs in the
field?  Those are sandhill cranes.  They’re actually fair-sized birds
(like flamingos), and they have a very distinctive call that we hear
when they’re flying far overhead.  They fly fairly high up, as opposed
to ducks and geese.  And the formations of sandhill cranes can be
pretty difficult to see since they fly so high.  Also, they tend to
circle and swoop when they fly as they look for feeding fields or
water.  Sometimes I hear them and can’t see them at all, but then they
circle and the sun hits their wings–oh, there they are!

Our walk turned out to be very short.  While the sun was out and the day was bright, it was cold and windy.