2020-05-15: The Bosque at Tingley Beach

Yellow-Breasted Chat - Icteria virens
Jerry and I visited the riparian grove next to the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Yellow-Breasted Chat vocals are always entertaining, and we captured their images as we explored our way along the hiking and biking trails that weave through the Cottonwood and Mulberry trees.

My friend Jerry Goffe retired from his forensic photography business a few years ago and devoted his time to teaching and volunteering as a docent at just about every nature organization in and around Albuquerque, including Bosque del Apache, the Rio Grande Nature Center, the local zoo, and currently the Botanical Garden at Albuquerque’s BioPark.

If you spend time with Jerry, it’s obvious how much he loves being involved with the Botanic Gardens. He’s a natural-born teacher and the role he plays in most of what he does has an element of teaching to it. He’s so good at it, most of the time the student doesn’t even know he’s been given a lesson. It’s an art, and I marvel at how Jerry pulls it off repeatedly. When the Covid-19 pandemic reared it ugly head, and all the venues where Jerry loves to spend his days ceased operations, it left him without these favorite outlets for his creative energies.

Summer Tanager - Piranga rubra
Jerry and I enjoyed our Friday visit so much, we returned on Monday to the bosque, as locals call it. We met male Summer Tanagers and other birds as we explored this bird-rich habitat.

Jerry and I share a passion for photographing the natural world, but our approach is fundamentally different. Having been a respected multi-disciplined professional photographer for over half a century, with credentials at the highest level in the industry, he has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Ansel Adams as a judge in national contests. He is a master of light. By comparison I am a gorilla in the jungle. While I was barely out of high school, Jerry was establishing his professional reputation as a photographer.

When I arrived at Jerry’s home, we were glad to see each other and looked forward to attending several of the local bird venues, but we learned most of Jerry’s favorites were still shut down due to the pandemic. I found some projects I wanted to do around his house to make his life easier. He has one prosthetic foot and a brace on the other, so his mobility is mostly limited to what he can do from his electric mobility chair. I talked him into letting me work on a couple of things on his behalf and happily I was able to execute the projects.

All of Jerry’s favorite venues were closed off, but we learned that the bosque along the Rio Grande near Old Town and adjacent to the area known as Tingley Beach had remained open to the public. With trails winding through the riparian grove (or bosque) of cottonwoods and mulberry trees lining the river, we were sure we could find birds there.

Jerry has mastered the public transportation system in Albuquerque, and learned to exploit the accommodations provided for his wheelchair. I hadn’t been on a bus since high school. Monday, after a twenty minute ride, we arrived at our destination in a forty foot chariot. The experience was a shock to my system, but I got through it unscathed.

At the bosque it didn’t take long to find Ash-Throated Flycatchers, Downy Woodpeckers, White-Breasted Nuthatches, Blue Grosbeaks, Yellow-Breasted Chats, Bewick’s Wrens, Mountain Chickadees, Summer Tanagers, Black-Headed Grosbeaks, and Spotted Towhees.

It was great to be out in nature, and I could tell Jerry was getting a healthy dose of what had been denied him since the pandemic changed his world. We enjoyed our Friday morning excursion so much, we ventured out again on Monday for another round with the birds. We’d planned on a three hour visit, but it stretched to four hours before we realized. We finished the mourning exhausted, but with buoyant hearts.

From the gallery below you can sample some of the birds we found and the integrated map will show the location of the bosque.

Click map markers to reveal further information