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Recommended: Travel photo of the day: Sandhill cranes at dusk

Charles Casey / UGC

Cranes, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Charles Casey captured this image in early December at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge just outside Socorro, N.M. The birds pictured are sandhill cranes; about 15,000 make their home at the refuge each winter, according to a local volunteer group that supports and promotes the refuge.

“My wife and I enjoy exploring areas of wonder and natural beauty, especially the treasures that are in our backyards,” Casey, who lives in Albuquerque, told TODAY.com.

Casey and his wife, along with out-of-town friends, parked on the side of the road and enjoyed a sunset picnic as they watched the moon rise.

“Sunrise and sunset are probably the two best times to see the birds in flight as they move to and from roosting to feeding areas,” Casey said. “It was an unseasonably cold evening and much of the area was frozen over, which added to the beauty of the landscape and the experience.”

Casey, who considers himself an amateur photographer, said that one of his “pleasures is trying to capture life in its element.”

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