The Winter That “Wasn’t” :-)

This week, the blog post will be short & sweet … just like our first winter in Colorado was.  LOL.  I’m serious … if you blinked your eye, you might just have missed it!  At first I thought it was just me, but even seasoned locals said that this was the mildest winter they had ever experienced.  For the girl from south Florida, who craved some winter snow and chill, well, it just figured.

What I found so weird though was how erratic the snow pattern was, even when it did snow.  See, one day we were up on the Monument and I looked down on the valley … east and west.  I could see all of this “white” cover to the extreme west.  It looked like snow, but we have minerals out here in the soil which sometimes look like snow.  We decided to check it out.

As we appraoched Loma, just west of Fruita, we could see that it was in fact snowfall … and a beautiful snow cover it was.  Making it even more fun was our viewing of these amazing sheep which were running through the snowy landscape.

DSC_9507DSC_9516We arrived at Highline Lake State Park in Loma, CO and found not just the bare trees of winter, but the landscape was covered in probably 4 or so inches of snow as well.  This was th winter scene that I expected._DSC3928-EditThe bluffs covered in snow was beautifully mirrored on the surface of the lake as well._DSC3934-Edit-EditThe Book Cliff mountains off in the distance were crisp and clear. _DSC3938The views almost reminded me of Florida … if the snowy landscape had just been sand on the beach or around a lake.  It was so beautiful with the glistening of the snow and icicles all around.  For a few hours, I didn’t feel “cheated” of my winter.  After all, I knew that in the high desert landscape I now call home, wouldn’t afford tons of snow … but I never expected what I got._DSC3947-EditEven as we drove home from the park, we noticed that the snowfall stopped about a mile or two from our home.  Dang … looks like we’re going have to move a few miles west.  LOL.  I’m not sure why any of this surprised me.  See in Florida, it can be raining in your front yard and not in your back yard … so snowfall would be no different.

Soon, we were greeted by the songbirds in the bare trees, like this wonderful western meadowlark.  Both beautiful … but gosh, I sure hope I get some more snow next year.  🙂

DSC_9596Next Up:  Maybe there will be more snow out in Lake Tahoe … we’ll see.

© 2017  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

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Sheep, Deer, & Views … Western CO

So, I think that this blog was going to be about the San Juan Mountains and surrounding areas, but oh well, I changed my mind.  LOL.  I thought that instead I would share more images of the area landscapes and wildlife in my more immediate area.  Are we good with that?  🙂

From our windows, we have amazing views of the Colorado National Monument.  The wonderful red rock formations are stunning, especially after a rainfall or when the sunlight is hitting it just right and illuminating the rocks.  So many colors, like painted rocks or striations in the layers.  Just really peaceful and beautiful.

DSC_8052-EditFor me, the desert bighorn sheep are always the highlight of my visit and it’s always a dreat day when I do.  On this day, we ran across a gathering of the ladies.  I’m always so impressed with how naturally they act when we encounter them.DSC_7677-EditNo different than other wildlife, they’re eyes engage me and their thoughts are a mystery to me that I always try, though never will, to figure out.  🙂DSC_7693-EditDSC_7605-Edit-EditWhile the close up views of their faces are always fascinating, so are the more natural ones where the sheep may not even know I’m watching.  DSC_7657-Edit-EditLots of mule deer are always present and I really enjoy photographing them as well.  This handsome buck posed nicely for me … in the midst of the wilderness.  Often they fear onlookers, and perhaps with good reason, but if you remain still, they almost seem to enjoy an impromptu photo session.  LOLDSC_7876Fun to see the younger generation being mentored by their elders.DSC_7752Speaking of “being schooled” … how about this sequence of this beautiful buck showing how to properly jump the fence.  DSC_7739DSC_7741DSC_7742We watched the entire group make the jump successfully.  So fun to observe and photograph.  Then we came across this really handsome buck … staring us down.  There goes that eye contact again.  After some time, he went on with his foraging on the landscape, which really pleased us.DSC_7979Back on the Monument, we came across a whole herd of desert bighorn sheep.  They are a subspecies of the bighorn sheep usually associated with the mountainous areas, but as one would expect, living in a desert primarily, they are a bit smaller in size.  However, I’m sure that everyone would agree that they’re equally as cute.DSC_8358-Edit-EditThis particular male was in charge of this group of lovely ladies.  Aren’t their eyes so amazing?  They have excellent eyesight, capable of viewing a predator over a mile away, and their eyes also help in guiding them on the rocky cliffs from which they live.DSC_8223Here’s a shot of just a few of them within the herd.  The adult male in the forefront center is keenly watching us.DSC_8155Of all of the desert bighorn sheep ewes up there, this particular one is always easy to identify and fun to photograph.  She’s missing one of her horns, which unfortunately don’t grow back.  But you can’t tell me that she doesn’t look quite happy!  🙂DSC_8435Sometimes, try as you may, you don’t find them.  Sometimes you can spot them through your binoculars or hear them in the distance.  Then sometimes, you just can’t seem to get away them … or pass them … like when they’re causing a “bighorn jam” in the middle of the narrow winded round.  It’s OK, I could watch them forever it seems.DSC_8313Yes, the beauty of the Colorado National Monument red rock formations is a sight to see, whether you take it in up close and personal like this … or when you wake up and see it out of your bedroom window … it’s all beautiful and all good.  🙂DSC_8057-EditHope that you enjoyed the blog and have gained an appreciation of the beauty of western Colorado … just minutes from Utah.

Next Up:  More around town sightings … you just never know what you’ll see

© 2018  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

My World That Surrounds Me

In late fall/early winter, the Grand Valley area of western Colorado plays host to a variety of migrating birds.  Of course, one of my favorites are the sandhill cranes.  It’s not unusual to see groups of 1,000 or more in the early morning or pre-dusk hours, as they roost in the farmlands.  Mostly we see adults, though sometimes you get a few teenagers.

DSC_6171-Edit-2Whenever I see sandhill cranes, I’m immediately taken back to one of my first encounters of fields of them, back at Creamer’s Field in Fairbanks, AK.  There’s few sights or sounds as beautiful as congregating and celebrating sandhills.  Don’t even get me going as to how fabulous they are when courting.  🙂DSC_6223-Edit-Edit-2Home in Colorado now, I’ve had my share of “new” birds.  Now this doesn’t mean that these birds are “lifers” for me, but to have them share my immediate surroundings, has been a thrill.  One of them that I take great joy in viewing is the Steller’s Jay.  Such attitude it seems to possess with that fancy crested ‘do … I always stop to grab a shot or two when I see them.DSC_6503-Edit-2DSC_6516-2Often hanging out with the jays are the Clark’s Nutcrackers … also in the jay family, they’re quite social and beautiful as well.DSC_6384-2DSC_6413-2To say that I’ve seen my fair share of the Canada Goose is an understatement.  Some days it seems as though every field or body of water is filled with them.  I’ve delighted in watching and yes, hearing them as they arrive to any given lake or such.  Calling out, organizing themselves in that V-formation that they’re known for, as well as performing acrobatic maneuvers as they approach their landing … it’s all been fascinating to be part of.DSC_7463-Edit-Edit-2Now perhaps I’ve seen snow geese before, but if I did I probably didn’t realize what they were.  The snow goose has been a thrill to observe as well, though for the most part, I’ve found them to be a bit frustrating to photograph at a close proximity.  LOL.  Oh well, I’m sure that they don’t care.DSC_8480-2One day, though, they treated me to some nice captures.  Just wished that they spread themselves out a bit. DSC_8500-Edit-Edit-2I just loved the way they swam about, walked the shoreline, preened themselves, and took floating naps on the waters surface.  So very beautiful they were._DSC3771-Edit-2Not a stranger to me was the pied-billed grebes which I see regularly in Colorado as well as I did in Florida.DSC_8671-2When the white-crowned sparrow is in the area, you cannot ignore or mistake its song, movement, or sight.  Though I’ve seen them in FL occasionally, they seem to be everyday sightings here.  DSC_8694-Edit-Edit-2The Western scrub jay, which is now referred to as the Woodhouse’s scrub jay, is another bird that I’ve taken a delight to.  This particular one was taken on a very cold day, so it was a bit fluffed up, resembling more of a mountain bluebird!  LOLDSC_8843-Edit-2Now all of these birds already shared doesn’t mean that there aren’t any 4-legged wildlife out in the area.  How about this one?  Honestly, it was one of the most beautiful (or handsome) coyotes I had ever seen.  ❤DSC_8740-2One last look back at me before it trotted off into the wilderness.  Loved it!DSC_8745-2Cousins to the bighorn sheep, only a smaller version, the desert bighorn sheep are always a fun way to spend a day.  By now, the females have most likely dropped their young, so this shot reminds me that I need to return to the scene to check things out again.DSC_9072-2Of course this area is home to many herds of mule deer.  This particular guy had one of the most fascinating, though quite odd, set of antlers.  Has anyone ever seen anything like that before?  I mean, within the mule deer?DSC_6298-2About an hour or so east of Fruita is the town of Rifle, CO, home to Rifle Falls State Park.  Rifle Falls is a triple waterfall amidst the natural stone formations found in the area.  So unique and quite a thrill to photograph when the frost forms on the accompanying rocks and vegetation._DSC3697-2_DSC3699-2So, I hope that you enjoyed a peek into the beauty that surrounds me in western Colorado.  As I now enter a 3rd season here, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  🙂

Next Up:  The San Juan Mountains

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Nothing Like An Off-Road Adventure

When one lives in the Grand Valley area of western Colorado, it’s only natural to seek an all-out off-road adventure … especially  when you know exactly the person that can make it happen for you.  So, Tom & I met up with our good friend Rick Louie and made plans to do just that.  Off we went towards Moab for some sunset and/or night photography in Arches National Park in Utah.  So that was the plan anyways.  We soon found out that the park was having night closures due to road improvement construction.  So much for that so off we went to dinner to plan our days and routes.

Rick was anxious to share a super cool location with us, so we met up early in the morning so that we could arrive at our destination for the sunrise.  The road to the lookout spot definitely need an off-road high clearance vehicle … OK by me, as we had the place to ourselves.IMG_5498Yep, we arrived just in time for the sunrise and what a sunrise it was.  The rays of the sun were shining from a break in the clouds and casting beautiful light on Rick as he grabbed  was checking out the landscape for the best angle and composition.  OK, so truth be told, this and several other images in this blog were actually taken with my iPhone!  Yes, though I had my camera gear with me, sometimes the moment called for an impromptu quick shot.  Like this one … sometimes these moments only last for a brief time.IMG_E5506Rick was explaining the location and sights for orientation purposes to Tom, but all I saw was beauty ahead of me.IMG_5493-Edit-EditThis place was so incredibly immense and beautiful.  Tom, always one to venture off on his own for his own views, gave this shot great perspective of the red rock formations._DSC3385-EditOf course, no day’s adventure would ever be complete without Tom giving me heart failure as he sits precariously on the edge!  There is NO WAY that I could have sat there.  LOL_DSC3445-EditIt was hard enough for me to sit down with Tom on the edge together.  What appears to be a casual moment with Tom’s arm lovingly around me, he probably actually had a tight grip on me, as I have a tremdous fear of heights.  Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t challenge that fear, I do, but it definitely doesn’t come easy for me.  Thanks so much to Rick for taking this amazing shot!IMG_0378Outside of Moab, we chose another off-road trail for a mid-day adventure.  This was a gorgeous drive up a canyon, with sheer red rock formations on either or both sides, as it meandered for miles and miles._DSC3587A small creek ran alongside it and it reminded me of a miniature “braided river”.  Being in the high desert, not much water was present, but I’m sure the channels formed allow for the flow of volumes of water when it rains._DSC3616-Edit-EditIMG_5561-EditBefore reaching an open space full of farmland, we stopped and grabbed a few images of the beauty of this wilderness.IMG_5589_DSC3660For another experience, we ventured out again for more off-road fun.  Rick was a fabulous and skilled driver and on occasion I would get out to try to get some shots of the action.  Bonus … look at those amazing clouds that also came out to play.  IMG_E5531_DSC3512On the last day, we met up with some incredible winds.  So they said that it would be windy, but I didn’t expect the winds that we had … out on the unprotected open slick rock of Hell’s Revenge … the winds were ripping at over 40mph!  This experience was so much fun … even if we didn’t venture into the “hot tubs”.  These were craters that crazy 4WD jeeps, etc, would enter and then drive out of, often flipping over and needing assistance to exit them.  Pictures just do it justice … if you can imagine, that hole is about 15-20 feet deep and pretty much just wide enough to get a vehicle in with very little room to spare.  Crazy, crazy, crazy!IMG_5678Thank you Rick for getting us over to the edge for some awesome Colorado River viewing below … even if I though I was going to blow off of it!  LOL.  It really was quite windy up there, but you couldn’t help but be exhilarated by the view.IMG_5642The wetting of the sun in the canyons provided for some beautiful views as well.DSC_7006-EditOn the tamer side of the trip was the Fisher Tower and Valley area and Parriott Mesa.IMG_5606Once again, the clouds came out to play in an incredibly beautiful way.  I can’t wait to get back out there again.  Thanks so much Rick for meeting up with us and sharing your off-road skills (and I do mean skills) with us.  Your driving was impeccable and the experience was top notch.  If anyone out there is interested in doing something like this, either here or many other areas in Colorado as well, I highly recommend Rick Louie for a great adventure experience._DSC3683-Edit-Edit-EditYes, Tom and I had a great time out there!  I really appreciate how close we are to this red rock wilderness area and beauty.  Until we return again … thanks Tom!IMG_5504Hope that everyone enjoyed the visit with us.  🙂

Next Up:  More local Colorado sights … and wildlife.

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

The Arrival of Autumn

Well, this was my first autumn season in Colorado … and already it’s not exactly a “normal” one.  Seems that they leaves didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to be changing already.  Sure, the aspens might have started, but they sure have a long way to go.

_DSC2881It’s OK because that means there’s more time for the wildlife to forage on the nutritious environment, which will be available to them longer.DSC_2221Even the birds seem to be enjoying the mild autumn.DSC_2219So one day in October, we headed up to the San Juan Mountains for some fall colors … hopefully anyways.  On our way we stopped outside of Ridgway and met up with a few friendly birds.DSC_2100Mountain bluebirds have become a favorite “new” bird of mine.  So very pretty, a bit social (at least to me), and such a beautiful calls they make.  They migrate vertically, which means migrate down in elevation from the higher mountains to the lower valley areas when winter comes.  They dine primarily on insects and hunt from overhead for them.DSC_2193Western bluebirds are also a new one for me to have in my neighboring area.  They are declining in population, or at least are threatened to, by nest competition from the starlings.  So beautiful.DSC_2201DSC_2218Finally, in the upper elevations, we see the fall colors starting to emerge.  Usually it begins with the aspen leaves changing to a golden color.  _DSC0256-EditOrange and burnt orange colors are next to appear._DSC0184-Edit-EditAs we reach the higher elevations, the fall color explosion begins to really emerge.  When I got to this point on our drive, I requested that the car be stopped so that I can get out and see it more clearly.  THIS is one of the reasons that I wanted to move to Colorado!_DSC0192-Edit-Edit-EditEvery turn in the road was virtual eye candy in the landscape and left me hungry for what was around the next corner._DSC0198-Edit-EditThis area is well know to those John Wayne fans out there, as the area was featured in his movies.  Cathedral Peak in the San Juan Mountains outside the town of Ridgway. _DSC0247-Edit-EditJust when I don’t believe that it can get much nicer, another vantage point yields this … incredible beauty, with an explosion of fall colors and varied landscapes and trees, with those unmistakeable San Juan Mountains in the distance.  My heart skips a beat._DSC0217-Edit-Edit_DSC0232 Yes, it was such a magical day out there, so it only seems appropriate to end this blog post with a rainbow … actually a double one … it was just that beautiful!_DSC2892

Next Up:  Let’s go to Utah!

© 2017  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Can You Ever Tire Of The Tetons?

One of the many reasons why we wanted to move out west, was to be closer to the wilderness areas of the west that we love so much.  After we got a bit “settled in” (which incidentally is still a work in progresss), we decided it was time to head out west and north a bit.  We made the 7 hr drive to Jackson … and Grand Teton National Park in WY.

Of course, the ride out when you’re traveling out somewhere is always part of the journey.  Since we had never driven from Fruita to Jackson, it was all fresh and new to us.  One of the most interesting and quite beautiful places that we traveled through was Flaming Gorge Reservoir and recreation areas.  It connects to the Flaming Gorge Dam and is the largest reservoir in Wyoming.  Even on this very overcast day in the early fall, it was spectacular.

_DSC2985-Edit_DSC2997-EditEn route to Pinedale, WY, which was our stopping point for the night, we encountered lots of wildlife nearby.  A herd of pronghorn antelope ladies were spotted just off in the distance … and as you can see they spotted us too.DSC_2732Of course, their male counterpart was nearby and overseeing his harem, which I’m sure he worked hard to gather.  To me, pronghorn are such interesting looking creatures, with their fancy horns and all … like crowns on their heads.  LOLDSC_2760Of course, deer were numerous and looking to establish harems of ladies of their own.DSC_2831To my surprise, we also encountered wild horses.  We only spotted two in the near vicinity, but they sure were majestic looking.  Is it just me, or is there something super special about them?DSC_2884The next morning we ventured into Grand Teton NP, met up my good friend Jen, and first made our way to the Jenny Lake area, including some of the outlying places as well.  It was such a fabulous, sunny day, and the perfect temperature as well._DSC9884About that time, we met up with some friends, Phil & Rodney, who were unexpectedly in Yellowstone NP and bummed that they didn’t get good views of the Tetons when they were there just a few days earlier.  Nothing that a quick phone call couldn’t fix … and soon we were meeting up with them at the iconic Oxbow Bend.  I mean, views like this were well worth the drive back, don’t you think?  _DSC0013-Edit-Edit_DSC0006-Edit-Edit-EditAfter spending some time there, drooling about the views, we all decided to go try to find  some bears.  After all, I had been in a bit of a “bear drought” lately and eager to find some.  We encountered a grizzly boar grazing in the brush and had him to ourselves for a few minutes before others spotted the action.  While it was exciting to find and photograph him … as it kept grazing with its head DOWN, not UP.  LOLDSC_3385Then it was time to find some other gems on this gorgeous autumn day.  Before long, the clouds started forming low and the results were amazing._DSC0042-EditThe next day, we came across lots of wildlife … including the distant but quite beautiful view of a bull elk walking away from us.  It was OK with me because, I mean, how beautiful was this view, with the fog and moody sky in the distance?  I was thrilled.DSC_5086-Edit-Edit-EditOf course, a highlight for us, was finding this feisty red fox … pretty much almost to ourselves!  This fox worked the sage brush so hard, digging away at it roots, as it hunted for little squirrels and such.  It never stopped even … like the Everyready Bunny it was.  So entertaining.  I did have one problem … too much lens!  Good problem, I know!DSC_3500-Edit-2Oh, they say the eyes have it and that was never so true as this guy (or gal).  They had me in a trance!  LOLDSC_3502-Edit-EditWell, whatever it found and munched just before this shot, must have been good, as it licked its chops.DSC_3574Bison are always a welcomed sighting when in the Tetons.  I think we caught this group during Siesta Time.  LOL_DSC3184-Edit At one point though, we found ourselves in our car quite close to a few that were quite ready to engage in some fighting.  I was amazed at how powerful they were and amused at how when two dominant bison were sparring, there was usually another (the “ref”?) nearby observing them._DSC3156Of course, no bison photo op is never complete without the shot of the tongue sticking out … whether up its nose or not.  DSC_3668Lots of pronghorn antelope were present and gathered up in harems, which the male protected at all costs.DSC_3706We watched as several times the male chased away other males trying to get a few recruits within his harem.  This guy would have none of that!DSC_3730The mule deer bucks were gathered up together in the wet field, as the weather changed quite a bit between day one and two.DSC_4712DSC_4050DSC_4415More bull elk were coming out, but it was weird because we heard very little bugling, which I was a bit disappointed about.  Still, to witness these big guys roaming in the wilderness was exciting.DSC_3456On the third day, it began to snow a little, then quite a lot … those big giant snowflakes … and it gave the area a whole new look.  Gorgeous!_DSC0143-EditWhile I was quite thrilled with the unexpected snowfall, I don’t think this belted kingfisher was as pleased.  Poor thing was spotted on a ramp to the water and looked quite cold.DSC_5296Snow falling adds so much to an image in the Tetons, I think.  We encountered several bull moose and a female with a juvenile with her, as they made some fast time crossing the landscape and off into the mass of autumn-kissed trees they went.DSC_5408-EditWell, until next time when we return in early spring, I’ll leave everyone with that last look that I got from the active red fox … so cute … I can never resist an image of an animal walking away.  DSC_3619Hope that you enjoyed sharing our autumn trip to the Tetons with us.  It should be noted that in 2017, the fall colors never really arrived, and most of it was unseasonably late.  You just never know.  🙂  Thanks so much to Jen, Phil, and Rodney for sharing our fun with us.  It’s always better with friends!

Next up:  The Colorado Verson of Autumn

© 2017  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Colorado’s Highline Lake State Park

Colorado State Parks consists of 42 individual parks which highlight the natural beauty and outdoor adventure experiences of Colorado, giving the public much to be proud of and lots of recreational opportunities.  Highline Lake State Park in Loma is one of the closest to us … just a mere 13 rural miles.  Needless to say, we go there a lot.

As the name implies, the park consists of two lakes, Highline Lake and Mesa Lake.  Recreational opportunities include boating, SUP’ing, canoeing, fishing, hiking, and even mountain biking.  Tom rides the trails out there … Debbie goes out to explore and photograph nature … all is good!

DSC_2381Birding is big there too.  In the summer and fall, many birds use the lakes for feeding, such as the terns, eagles, osprey, etc.DSC_2251DSC_2238Western meadowlarks can also be seen buzzing around the landscape.DSC_2281In mid-September, you can already begin to see some of the early seasonal changes in the landscape._DSC2969_DSC2979-EditEven the bunny rabbits seem to be out enjoying the beautiful days.DSC_2325Sometimes, when the water level is just right, shorebirds run up and down the shoreline.  This killdeer and its mate are quite noisy as they nervously run about, trying to avoid the camera’s lens.DSC_2387No one can miss it when the yellowlegs fly in … as their announcement is loud.  LOL.  Once landed though, I don’t think he liked the spot, so it left soon afterwards.DSC_2367The short-billed dowitcher didn’t seem to mind my presence and wasn’t shy in approaching me since that’s where it wanted to feed.DSC_2485The detail in its feathers were incredibly fascinating and the light played in its eye.DSC_2436Hanging out with it was this semi-palmated sandpiper … seemingly going left when the dowitcher went left and right when it went right.  I guess it figured it was safer that way perhaps or maybe playing clean up.DSC_2480Either way, it sure was equally beautiful, especially when its image was reflected on the surface of the water below.DSC_2498As I mentioned, perhaps they were hanging around together for safety, as the red-tailed hawks were numerous and quite actively flying overhead.DSC_5801-EditDSC_5815Of course, on the softer side of things, the northern flicker woodpecker also calls the trees within the park home.  Usually for me woodpeckers seem to run me in circles around trees, as they run in circles around them too foraging insects.  However, on this day at least, this flicker gave me a bit of a break and sat still and alert for a brief few seconds.  Thanks!DSC_5865-Edit-2As the month rambled on, the colors began to emerge and it was actually quite breathtaking._DSC0267The only thing that was prettier that the actual view from afar of the seasonal color changes was that of its reflection.  It made the vision and joy twice as nice!_DSC0270-Edit-Edit-EditEspecially when you zoom in and get more of the details of the view.  This is how I like to remember the lakefront of Highline Lake.  I wish I could keep it looking like this forever._DSC3321-EditI waited for this one to get into the reflection of the golden trees … just also wished it would have been closer.  I guess you can’t have everything, but at this moment, it seemed like it was enough.  🙂DSC_6127I hope that you enjoyed getting to “know” Highline Lake State Park too.  More to come from this park on a later blog, so stay tune.

Next up:  It’s all so Grand, in the Tetons that is  🙂

© 2017  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

The Third Times A Charm … Mt. Evans

Practically no sooner that we unpacked the moving trucks … well, at least the first photography out of area trip we made … was to go to Mt. Evans for my mountain goat encounter that I had been denied a few years before.  See, the road to the top is only open a limited amount of time and the last time I tried to make the trip to the top, I could go no further than the Echo Lake Lodge, 15 miles from my desired destination.

So off we went from Fruita, CO at around 3:00 am … to the town of Idaho Springs.  We were treated to a wonderful sunrise along the way.  I considered it a taste of things to come.

IMG_4604Once arriving at Idaho Springs, we drove to Echo Lake Lodge, where we then drove the 15-mile Mt. Evans Scenic Byway.  The sunrise began to reveal the beauty of the landscape along the way.IMG_4605Summit Lake is an amazing recreational location along the way and a place for many to hike the wilderness area and explore some of which it has to offer.  For us, on this morning, I was on a mission … to the top!IMG_4608The roads are, as they say, “not for the faint of heart”.  In some areas there are sheer cliff drop offs of unfathomable heights.  Poor Tom was getting strict orders to keep his eyes on the road for those sections.  LOL.  Other areas were more gentle and could allow for a bit of sightseeing along the way.IMG_4609Finally, we reached the top and I held my breathe … will I find what I was looking for?  Yes!  There it was … my first sighting of a mountain goat at the summit of Mt. Evans … 14,264 feet high.IMG_4614IMG_4623When we got out we found some of the younger goats climbing around the structure, in and around the stairs.  My heart went pitter-patter, then began to skip a beat.  How incredibly adorable!DSC_0440-Edit-EditOf course the adults were always around and watching the whereabouts of the young ones.DSC_0506But that sweet innocent looking face of the young kids were by far the sweetest I’ve seen. Just like other young, they possess such curiosity … as well as a playful nature.DSC_0532The mountain goats weren’t just frolicking around the structure shown above, but they were also out navigating the boulders of rocky terrain … being such excellent climbers.DSC_0555-Edit-EditA few of the older ones were collared, which isn’t the best for photography, but monitoring of their behavior and whereabouts is sometimes a necessity.DSC_0559On the other side of the summit, they began to make their way into the grassy landscape for foraging of food.DSC_0633The family unit sticks closely together.  Also of note in this image, is that the adult goat has all but lost its winter coat.  Just a small patch remains in random places.  DSC_0658DSC_0682After spending time with the mountain goats, we decided to head down … slowly … and enjoy some of the other sightings that the Mt. Evans Wilderness Area has to offer.  Yes, the air was thin up there, quite crisp, and invigorating.IMG_4618

We soon found some pika up there as they were sunning a bit, but mainly foraging the vegetation.  For them, it won’t be long before winter arrives, even when the calendar reads “summer”.
DSC_0728Yellow-bellied marmot also make their home up there and can often be seen sunning themselves as well.DSC_0766-Edit-EditBut the real stars of the adventure were the mountain goats.DSC_0931No sighting was more heart-warming than the kids with their moms.  ❤DSC_0547A herd of elk was also spotted as they migrated.  Bighorn sheep also call the area home, though on this day we didn’t see any.DSC_0924The beauty of the area is undeniable.  I wish that we had more time to spend there and rest assured we will in future visits.  We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.IMG_4627Of course, we stopped at the Echo Lake Lodge for a quick break and to celebrate our day. We treated ourselves to lunch, including these amazing Macaroni & Cheese tots.  Yum Yum!  IMG_4628We did return to Mt. Evans one more time before the road closed for the rest of the year. More on that visit in a future post.

Next up:  More sights and stories from closer to home

© 2018  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Owls, Owls, Everywhere

One of my favorite things to photograph in Florida are the burrowing owls.  Quite tiny, but quite social in their behavior they can entertain the viewer for hours!  Usually I stick close to home, but in 2017, I ventured out to a few new locations to photograph these cuties.  So join me as I share another set of images.  🙂

When I first arrived to this particular location, the sun was already up for a bit and the owls were quite active.  On these few days, I was treated to both the yellow and dark eyed babies.  Though yellow eyes are the most traditional, both are photogenic to me.

DSC_4413-EditDSC_5072At these burrows, there were some still in the burrows, not quite ready for “prime time”, but there were plenty of babies to keep me happy as well.  You can tell the babies by their feathers on their belly … so downy looking and creamy, they remind me of a nice drink of Kahlua!  LOL.  They are also very downy towards their legs, which remind me of petticoats or bloomers.DSC_4893They might be a bit more jumpier too and seemingly always on alert.  They scurry from burrow entrances, of which there can commonly be 2 or 3 … though sometimes simply one.DSC_4878They seem to be quite intrigued by each other and often seem to challenge each other … in a playful way, of course.DSC_4625Curiosity is never more evident than when they are quite young.  Always poking around at things they, like our own young, seem to get into everything!  I feel sometimes like I can sense their mind wheels turning as they process this world outside of the burrow, where they usually spend their first few weeks.DSC_4862Quite demanding for the attention of their mom and dad, I know that they’re looked upon as “annoying” from time to time.  Running over to an adult is common.  Squeaking and pecking at the adult is I’m sure their way of trying to communicate their needs…. Food … Comfort … Attention!DSC_4817Early on the parents will catch food for the young owls and assist in feeding them.  After some time, they still hunt for them, but they encourage independence by allowing the siblings to tear up and consume their food on their own.DSC_4813Nothing gets by these little buggers wither!  They kept constant vigil to everything going on around them.  Of course, that will serve them well as they grow up and ready for their life on their ownDSC_4980But until then, they seek more attention, food, grooming, play, etc. from their parents.DSC_4843DSC_4830Then there’s more staring down something … a sibling, an ant, a bee, an airplane, a piece of trash … doesn’t matter, they’re all of interest to this little owl.DSC_5006Of all of the entertaining things that these little ones do, NOTHING is more entertaining that the “head tilt” maneuver that they perform.  Sometimes it’s just a little one … sometimes it’s the full tilt …sometimes the body bends with it as well.  LOL.  DSC_4482Life at the burrow can be a bit boring I presume …. 😉DSC_4952Testing of the wings is another fun time while observing them.  Of course, it’s all about baby steps, but they all learn to take flight at their own pace … and in their own way.  DSC_4653Looks like this guy is ready to go … just like me.  Hope that you enjoyed the burrowing owls of Florida.  While we do have them out in Colorado, they’re not full time residents and therefore, they’re a bit more shy and secretive.  Hope to find them out there one day.

Next Up:  Let’s meet up high in the mountains

© 2017  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

My Backyard In Fruita

As most of you might know, we made a big life-altering decision last year.  After MANY years of living in south Florida (trust me … many, many years), Tom and I decided to move to Colorado, after many trips traveled to locations that we were considering and even more trips to Colorado to find our “new home”.  Once settled in, I started noticing the bird life that we had abundantly around us.DSC_9576DSC_9590Some were adult birds, but there were young ones too, being tended to by their parents.DSC_9896Of course, the bird bath (which to my delight was solar powered) was a hot spot, or should I say a cool spot for the birds for drinking and bathing purposes.  It was so much fun to look out our dining room window to watch the goings-on.DSC_9866DSC_0343Of course, my personal favorite were the hummingbirds.  Though there were hummingbirds in Florida, I personally never had much experience with them, so to see them right outside my window was a thrill.DSC_9846-EditDSC_9913DSC_9926DSC_0020So, in the beginning, we would only see one hummingbird at a time, but then several showed up.  I guess the word got out … LOL.  The real fun started when they would compete for the feeder, so we went out and bought another, foolishly thinking that 2 would solve the problem.DSC_9979I learned quite quickly that hummingbirds can be quite the territorial little birds.  I think that I could have had a dozen feeders and they still would have squabbled!  LOLDSC_0359No I am by no means an expert photographer of hummingbirds, but I sure was challenged by their speed, and the fact that my feeder locations were in shade quite a bit of the day.  In 2018, I’ll have to find a better spot.  My mom was also quite thrilled by them and would be quite concerned if she didn’t see them for an hour or so.DSC_0367Of course, where there are lots of predators in the general area as well.  A few times, we watched nervously as hawks (though not this one) would fly in the nearby trees, wait patiently for an opportune moment, then buzz the feeder.  Every time it was unsuccessful, though I’m sure that wasn’t always the case.DSC_0240-EditNot far from us, we found sunflowers!DSC_0160Lots and lots of sunflowers and learned that sunflower blooms don’t always face towards the sun, which is something that I had always thought.  Every day when I would drive home I would drive by them and they would produce an instantaneous smile.DSC_0106-EditWhether it was the group as a whole … or a single one … it didn’t seem to matter.  Like a smile … they seemed so infectious to me in making me happy.  🙂DSC_0177-EditNow that the summer has past, along with the fall, I’ve noticed a new variety of birds at the feeder … of course, that will be the subject of a future blog post.DSC_0365Hope that you enjoyed them as much as we have.

Next up:  How about another dose of owls?

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com