He Did It For Love :-)


OK, so in the last blog post, I told everyone that we met up with a friend of ours at the Echo Lake Lodge, in order to take the road up to Mt. Evans and visit with the mountain goats.  I also mentioned that something went wrong with that plan and that we improvised  with another plan for photography… let me explain.20150716-IMG_2812

I was so excited for us to arrive at the lodge.  The road up to Mt. Evans is the highest paved road in North America…. all 14,270 feet of elevation at the top.  They say that when you drive to the top, the oxygen can affect you even just walking without elevation or added stress.  The reward at the top are the mountain goats which call the mountain top their home.  :-)

So you can imagine my shock when we got to the road entrance and saw this …..!


I swear, it was as if we reached WallyWorld (from the Chevy Chase version of the movie Vacation) and it was CLOSED for business.  I was absolutely that desperate trying to figure out how I could still get up there.  The culprit for the road closure was that the road was in such disrepair that they had to close the winding narrow road for said repairs to be made. The repairs were extensive and kept the road to the top closed for the summer.  Estimated completion date was “hopefully some time in August”.  Now I know that I’m retired now, but I couldn’t possibly wait THAT long!

Now that road to the top was open for hikers and cyclists, but it was 14+ miles to the top and the elevation gain was about 4,000 ft and ends in 14,270 ft.  Quite a bit higher than the 5 ft above sea level that I reside in.  LOL.

Tom and I talked it over and over, trying beyond hope to find a way to accomplish our mountain goat “photo session” goal.  Tom decided that there was only one thing to do … that was for him to take one for the team and ride up there on his mountain bike!


What a guy, huh?  Now if the altitude and the 14+ miles each way wasn’t enough, enter the weather conditions … a brisk 60 degrees with a wind of ~15 mph.  They said that at the top, with the exposure of the wind without any shield above the timberline, the wind would be at least 30mph and the temperatures would be at least 15 degrees colder.


So, not only is Tom my sherpa on our photography adventures, but he really took the bull by the horns on this one.  Of course, I set up the camera and lens for him, gave him 32 GB (remember that number) to work with, and instructions regarding angles and shots I wanted.  LOL20150716-DSC_5144 While nervously waiting for Tom to complete his mission, I tried to occupy myself with some photography of my own.  Even at the 10,000 ft elevation of the base area, I found myself moving a bit slower than normal.  :-)20150716-DSC_5155 After some time, I also decided to hike, since I REALLY wanted to get to the goats myself, though realistically I knew that at 10am to start out, there was NO way I would get up there.  Still the area, in the 3+ miles that I did manage, was beautiful.20150716-DSC_5199 20150716-DSC_5190 That road just kept going … and going …., climbing and climbing, … and I was really hoping that Tom would reach the top, though he was instructed to return short of the goal if he felt the slightest bit not at ease.20150716-DSC_5160

Tom did finally make his way to the top!  He took a selfie to prove it!  It took him about 2 hrs to get up there.  He said that he was so cold up there that his fingers didn’t want to work properly in the beginning to take images for me.

photo 5

The mountain goats were “everywhere” reported Tom.  There were adults basking in the sun with those spectacular views everywhere!

20150716-DSC_5562 20150716-DSC_5587 Then he spotted his first young kid, the baby goat,  and he said it was just the sweetest thing ever.  It pretty much came over to him and stood in front of his Santa Cruz mountain bike.photo 1-1 The goats must have been a bit out of sorts in that they’re quite habituated towards people visiting up there, but since the road closure that only get access to the cyclists and some park and wildlife personnel.photo 2-1

He said that they were all shedding their winter coat.  It’s amazing to see just how MUCH they shed though.20150716-DSC_5566“On the top of the world” shots were definitely requested and Tom did a great job in checking that one off the list.  How adorable!!
20150716-DSC_5550 20150716-DSC_5555

This shot really cracked me up … almost looks like a two-headed (sort of) kid here, huh? LOL

20150716-DSC_5560 Not sure if they’re oxygen-deprived as well or not, but these young kids seemed to have some other activities on their mind.  LOL20150716-DSC_5558 Tom was so upset that he got to witness these wonderful little ones without me.  20150716-DSC_5552 20150716-DSC_5577 Of course, even the adults were fascinating for him to see.20150716-DSC_5569 Like little children, the tribe of kids were “so adorable” as they played with each other … butting, pushing, climbing on each other.20150716-DSC_5579 It wasn’t just mountain goats either…. he said that the place was teaming with marmots as well.  He even saw a marmot nose to nose with a little lamb.  I really wished I could have seen and photographed that one.20150716-DSC_5561 Though he was freezing up there and getting blown around in the high winds, he found it hard to tear himself away from the wildlife.20150716-DSC_5573-2I was quite excited to see Tom flying down the mountain, which took a mere 30 mins on the descent.  When Tom returned, of course, I got to hear all about it and get a sneak peek at the images over lunch at the Echo Lake Lodge, which was delicious by the way.  We highly recommend the Mac & Cheese nuggets, but everything was excellent.photo 1I couldn’t be prouder of Tom for making the climb, especially in those conditions and without any planning to do so.  He returned with images …. that’s right …. 51 in all!  Barely making a dent in that 32 GB card he was armed with…. perhaps my instructions weren’t clear … or was it the lack of oxygen, cold weather …?  LOL.  But hey, that’s 51 more than I would have gotten without his heroic effort.  :-) He’s not just my husband, my traveling partner, my sherpa, but my human “mountain goat” and hero as well!  He said he did it for love … I’ll take that.  Before we left, we also promised to return next year, so that I may get to experience the real thing for myself.  Thanks again Tom!  <3
photoNext up:  Colorado Springs, CO.  Check it out!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy & Tom Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Guanella Pass … It’s All About Improvising :-)


Though this road trip was more about Tom and his cycling, there was one thing I wanted to do which was non-negotiable … I wanted to make a side trip to Mt. Evans for some mountain goat photography.  As promised, when we departed Grand Junction, CO, we began our way to Idaho Springs, CO.  We were excited too, as we were meeting up with an old friend of ours, Rick Louie.

The scenery along the way was simply spectacular!
20150715-IMG_2781 20150715-IMG_2783

We were set to meet up at Echo Lake Lodge, a wonderful place that is located near the entrance to the Mt. Evans highway.  However, things changed along the way (more on that  in the next blog), so after we met at the lodge … we improvised.  :-)

Rick suggested that we drive to Georgetown, CO, then head up towards Guanella Pass, which is part of the Front Range west of Denver.  As we began our climb along the road, we found some bighorn sheep ewes and some young ones as well.  I don’t think that I’ve ever seen summer bighorns, as they were molting and appeared to be quite shabby looking.  Still, being the wildlife nut that I am, I began shooting them … right from the car window.  :-)

20150715-DSC_5085 We arrived at the parking lot up near the top and the skies showed signs of an impending storm brewing.  Nonetheless, the scenery couldn’t be beat and it was fabulous being up there.  In the distance, Mt. Bierstadt (14,060 ft) loomed.20150715-DSC_5462 It didn’t matter which orientation you faced in … beautiful all the way around.20150715-DSC_5465 Every so often, the sun poked through and cast it’s warm light upon the mountain range.20150715-DSC_5472 As we began to hike a bit, we couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous wildflowers that were still in bloom on the landscape.20150715-DSC_5478 As the wind blew around us, we also were serenaded by a bird singing somewhere near us.  Every so often, we could see something darting in and out of the brush, but it remained elusive for a bit.  Finally, we located it … a white-crowned sparrow … this time perched on top of the brush.  It was quite cooperative for the camera as well.20150715-DSC_5479 20150715-DSC_5482 We noticed a small lake in the middle of a nearby field and decided to check it out closer.  Come on, you’ve got to admit that the pathway towards the lake was quite inviting.  Glad that there was the boardwalk as well, as the earth was quite saturated in spots there.20150715-DSC_5484 20150715-DSC_5486 Again, the scenery and the wildflowers were beautiful and the setting was quite serene.  I can only imagine how beautiful it must be in the sunlight or early morning.20150715-DSC_5087 20150715-DSC_5102 20150715-DSC_5507Thanks Rick for taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet up with us.  Totally enjoyed shooting with you, whether it’s in the Canadian Rockies or up on Guanella Pass.  20150715-DSC_5483After, we went for a late bite to eat in Idaho Springs … and of course, continued to catch up.  Oh, we obviously got a bit silly in a mostly empty saloon too.  LOL

20150715-IMG_2795For anyone that might be interested, Rick also provide photography workshops in Colorado and surrounding areas, as well as portrait and wedding photography.  Check out his website at http://www.ricklouiephotography.com.

Next:  Our Mt. Evans adventure … and I do mean, adventure!

© 2015 Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography


The Early Bird Gets the Worm (& the sunrise, too)


What better way to start a new day than with a sunrise from Colorado National Monument!  After the amazing day I had yesterday, Amy was kind enough to agree to meeting up, very early, to situate ourselves up on the monument to capture the sunrise.  The clouds showed up as well, which only adds to the atmosphere of the shot.20150714-DSC_5272-HDROK, so there was a very light sprinkle along the way, but that only added a beautiful rainbow (stop looking … it’s not in this blog).  It was behind us and though I shot it, I was still so amazed at those deep colors emerging in the early morning’s light and subsequent sunrise.
20150714-DSC_5285-HDR Often, when the sun rises, the sunrise shooting is over, as the sun’s light gets too bright and harsh.  However, when the light get shrouded behind a cloud or mountain peak in the distance, it can be fabulous.  Love the sun burst on the horizon.20150714-DSC_5346-HDR 20150714-DSC_5351-HDR I was having so much fun just watching the changing colors in the sky, that I would find myself forgetting to click my shutter!  LOL20150714-DSC_5315-HDR 20150714-DSC_5436-HDR More rays of light shiny down on the city of Grand Junction.20150714-DSC_5381-HDR Of course, Colorado National Monument itself is quite fascinating in its varied terrain, red rock formations, green brush cover, and prominent textures.  We looked, but didn’t see the bighorn sheep that Tom & I ran into the night before.20150714-DSC_5448 We did however, see a whole colony of chukkars scurrying around on the rocky landscape.  It was fun to see them somewhere new … as I had first seen them earlier in the winter at Antelope Island SP in Utah for my first time.  They have the most interesting colors and features.20150714-DSC_4887We also toured a few areas near GJ, including an Audubon Nature Preserve (I hope I got that right Amy).  There I got to photograph several Western Kingbirds, perched and also flying around, on the area bushes.  I think it was a first sighting for me.
20150714-DSC_5013 Now, when speaking of amazing and interesting features, we also spotted a Gambel’s Quail perched nearby the road.  What a fancy looking thing too!  It simply sat there, observing us, as we photographed away.  Not one to do much flying, it did finally take a quick and short flight to the landscape below after some time.  Again, it was another first for me.  20150714-DSC_4980 One last bird for my “new” list, was this immature blue grosbeak.  I know that this is far from a stellar shot, but hey, it was a new one.  I have never taken the time to create my “life list” of birds seen, but after this trip and with lots more travel planned in my retirement from my “day job”, I might just start one now.  :-)20150714-DSC_5044The last 2 days of touring Grand Junction, with the “insider’s advantage” was made possible by my friend, Amy (“Happy Photographer” on Flickr – easy to see where she got that user name).  Thanks so much!  Can’t wait to come back!20150714-IMG_2777 No town visit is ever complete without a visit to their local sushi restaurant for a celebratory dinner, which didn’t disappoint either.  Yummy!20150714-IMG_2779Next up:  Idaho Springs, CO and another meet up with an old friend and photographer for some mountain goats and landscapes!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography


Friends In High Places


Photography offers so much … from beautiful scenery to wonderful wildlife interaction to travel opportunities to understanding and appreciating one’s surroundings.  The sharing of those images offers those who can’t be there to experience just a slice of the adventure at hand.  It may also provide the viewer an opportunity to “check a place out” to visit or plan for a future visit.  However, there’s a huge opportunity that many seize, though still some overlook … that is, the friendships that are made along the photo-sharing path.

Enter Grand Junction, CO….

Of course, this was Tom’s cycling road trip and I was along for the ride, trying to experience it fully for myself through the photographic sights along the way.  Another mecca for both mountain and road cycling is the Grand Junction & Fruita area, so I knew that it would be on our agenda.  Of course, now when I think of Grand Junction, I think also of the amazing photography work of Amy Hudechek and her mom Bev Zuerlein, friends I have made over the years while sharing images on Flickr.

Amy & I made plans to meet up and she graciously agreed to show me some of what Grand Junction had to offer.  So off we went to Grand Mesa for some prime time lighting landscape shots.
20150713-DSC_5128 Yes, the wildflowers were out in force, with these yellow blooms being one of my favorites. Reminded me a bit of the yellow blanket of canola fields in the Palouse of Washington state from 2014.20150713-DSC_5136

Situated at 10,000 ft elevation, when you arrive at the “end of the road”, it’s an amazing view – both for landscapes and the various critters and birds milling around.  Seeming like they wanted their photo taken, I was only too happy to oblige.  :-)20150713-DSC_4692 20150713-DSC_4703 Several large ravens were nearby, as well as this beautiful Clark’s Nutcracker.20150713-DSC_4646 As we were making our way back down, we came  across some wonderful columbines, one of my favorite flowers.20150713-DSC_4715 Making a quick stop at Island Lake, which was so very beautiful as well.20150713-DSC_5153

Amy suggested that we stop and have lunch at the True Grit Cafe in Ridgeway, CO.  What a great place, though it was a bit crowded on our visit, due to an event in nearby Telluride. However, you absolutely couldn’t beat the views of the San Juan Mountains from the outside deck.  So very charming.20150713-IMG_2762Just about when we finished eating, I got a text from Tom saying how he wished he was touring the area with us.  So while walking back to the car, I spotted this Fire Dept building and captured this iPhone image and sent it to him.  Yes, see, I was thinking about him.  :-)
20150713-IMG_2763 Amy took me to so many fabulous places along the way.  A favorite of mine was this old IH (International Harvester) truck.  Set in the middle of a field of yellow bloom, it was perfect with its rusty surface.  Love it!20150713-DSC_5173 Amy knew of a horse corral with amazing backdrop views as well and we spent some time there as well.  Though the corral was empty when we were there, how could any horse mind calling that place home!20150713-DSC_5184 While we didn’t see the horses, we did see some cattle, who were hanging out close by to where Amy parked the car for our visit.  Loved the way this one gave us the total stink eye as we loaded up in the car again.  LOL20150713-DSC_5197 Yes, the area surrounding Grand Junction has everything and then some for the outdoor nature photographer.  I was very happy to have been able to get out and see some of it.  Thanks Amy!20150713-DSC_5195 When I got back to our rental condo, I told Tom that I wanted to try to photograph the sunset from the nearby Colorado National Monument.  It was my first visit there, though Tom had been cycling up there earlier, and I think that the bighorn sheep “got the memo” and came to check me out as well.  :-)20150713-DSC_4748Looking west from the monument, the sunset proved to be quite beautiful, as expected.
20150713-DSC_5210-HDR It never ceases to amaze me how the light changes so quickly and the colors get so varied, even when the sun had set.20150713-DSC_5244-HDRIt was the perfect ending, to the perfect day.  But there’s more …

Next up:  After the sunset, there’s always another sunrise the next day.  Stay tuned!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Living An Earlier Dream


In 2014, we visited Moab, UT and visited Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, and Dead Horse State Park, as well as Potash Road.  When in Canyonlands, we sat on the edge of Shafer Canyon Overlook and looked at the dirt ribbon winding roads beneath us.  Tom had said at that time that he would be back and would ride down into the canyon and out onto Potash Road next time, but on his mountain bike.  Well, on this day, he and his friends decided to do just that.

They arrived at the head of the trail – Shafer-Potash Trail – and prepared for their adventure.  Rachel and I planned to take the same route in the truck, staying behind them a bit, playing “sweep” for them, should any need arise.
20150712-DSC_440520150712-DSC_4429From the top, looking down at the road below, we knew that this would be the road that they would begin on during their journey.

20150712-DSC_5094But first, they had to get through the various tight switchbacks, with sheer drop-offs along the way.  I remember last year getting tense and a bit queasy just sitting up there and looking down.  It’s hard to get perspective on the enormity of the area and depth of the drops, but I’ll do my best to convey it to you.DSC_4339Before long, we got our first sighting of the trio as they began their initial descent.  I was nervous already … for them, but also for me, having to follow them.  LOL20150712-DSC_5049Zooming in on Tom, he didn’t seem to have a care in the world.20150712-DSC_5056As they made their way to the first switchback, I found myself mentally telling them to go slow and ride cautiously.20150712-DSC_5059OK, first perspective shot … in the image below you can see a white vehicle making the left bend in the road trail.20150712-IMG_2719In this shot, you can see the same area with the guys hanging out on that corner cliff.  Yikes!20150712-DSC_5070Then the carry on along the red dirt road, which was surprisingly smooth when we drove down.20150712-DSC_5074Once at the bottom of the canyon, they rode on the canyon’s floor along that Shafer-Potash Road.  At this point, we decided it was time to follow them.20150712-DSC_5107So off we went … thank goodness Rachel was driving, as I was a bit scared at the thought of it.  But Rachel was a real trooper about it.  20150712-IMG_2727Once we got to the bottom of the canyon, after numerous OMG moments and stops, we realized that in hindsight, it really wasn’t that bad and we both had a great sense of accomplishment.  Smooth sailing from here, we both thought.20150712-DSC_510520150712-IMG_272320150712-IMG_2736Most of the time, the road trail was clear and simply graveled.20150712-IMG_2739But sometimes, the road trail was difficult to navigate or even know which direction to take.  That’s the point I questioned our sanity in following down after them into the canyon.  But there was no turning backing now….20150712-IMG_273720150712-DSC_511020150712-IMG_2731

The scenery was quite beautiful down there … so iconic of the area as well … and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer day…. thankfully!20150712-DSC_5120We arrived at the potash plant evaporation ponds, which were absolutely the most amazing color blue (though I doubt it was natural) I’ve ever seen.  Even more striking than the glacier fed lake color, but a bit eery knowing that the entire area had fencing around it and signs for “No Trespassing”.20150712-IMG_2742Eventually we caught up with the guys, who had actually been stopping along the way waiting for us.  Guess that they might have been concerned with us getting down as well.20150712-DSC_512320150712-IMG_2748After I realized that I think that we had a rougher ride getting down there than they did.  So Glad that Rachel powered through it.  There’s no way that I would have done it alone.  20150712-DSC_4449When the road turned from red dirt to asphalt, we decided that we would pick them up, since we were then on our way to our next stop … Grand Junction, CO.  While the guys were loading up their bikes and gear, I took the opportunity to get some more wildflower images.  Yes, it was a nice sunny day.
20150712-DSC_5124While I’m sure that the guys had wonderful memories from Moab, my favorite memory (one that I still drool over) was from my amazing lunch at the Peace Tree Restaurant … YUMMY!
20150712-IMG_2755Next on our journey is more mountain biking (and more) in Grand Junction and Fruita, CO.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

The Whole Enchilada Experience


While in Moab, one MUST get out for some mountain biking (of course, if you’re not getting out to do some photography) and that’s what was on the agenda for the guys this morning.  We all traveled up to the Geyser Pass Trailhead, which is also the start of the “Whole Enchilada”.  The WE is not a single mountain bike trail, but rather a collection of 6 individual mountain bike trails of varying difficulty, all rolled up into the “whole enchilada” … get it? That’s right … 25+ miles!20150711-IMG_2714

They guys began to prep themselves for their upcoming ride … plenty of fluids, nutrition, cell phones, spare tubes, etc.  At the start of the trailhead, there were lots of wildflowers around, so I warmed up my camera as well.  :-)  I’ve always been fascinated by columbines … so pretty.

20150711-DSC_497520150711-DSC_4379Of course, I wanted to be sure that those torrential downpours from last night were not anywhere in sight.  Yes, it looked like a wonderful day for a mountain bike adventure.20150711-DSC_4978

We said our goodbyes, and good lucks, to the guys and they were off.  Rachel & I began to make our way off the mountain as well.  The scenery was spectacular from the La Sal Mountains.  As I looked out at the landscape, I couldn’t help but remember when we stayed up there years ago at Lake Warner.  Wonderful memories.


As we were headed down towards the highway, we noticed a man-made reservoir nearby and decided to check it out.  Being that Moab is pretty much dessert-like, the water contrasting with the mountains was a welcome sight.  This “lake” was called Ken’s Lake and there were some families and SUP’ers enjoying the water … and those gorgeous views.


As I was starved for wildlife, I couldn’t help but notice this yellowlegs nearby.  :-)

We also found this dirt road where there were some interesting photographic subjects for us to shoot.


More wildflowers were found along the way and I just couldn’t resist.  So bright and cheery.20150710-IMG_2704But alas, the day that started out so beautiful, turned very, very nasty once more.  As Rachel and I toured Arches NP again and got poured on, so did the guys.  At a 11,000 foot elevation, they were caught in that same downpour and in the midst of lightning bolts striking all around them.  Not a good thing.  We figured that they must have been getting rain, but we didn’t realize how cold they got at that elevation in the rain and wind.  OK, picture this … 4 guys (as they gained another rider along the way) all huddled up in an outhouse trying to stay warm and not struck by lightning!  You heard me right … an outhouse!  That was about 2 trails into their 6 trails planned for the day.

Now mountain bike trails, especially those not accustomed to the downpours, become dangerous places to ride.  The clay terrain can make it difficult for the wheels to even turn, for they get so caked with hard, sticky mud.  In addition, the trails deteriorate when ridden in those conditions.  Knowing that Tom and Todd abandoned their adventure … totally not having much fun as of that point.  Our traveling partner John and the additional rider (yes, the one from the outhouse) decided to continue on.  A “4-hr” adventure turned into a 9-10 hr journey.

As we waited for them to return, we hung out a bit at the local bike shop who had been dealing with rental bikes needing huge repairs as a result of the trail conditions.  Indeed, Tom & Todd spent the good part of 30 minutes at the car wash cleaning the mud out of every component of their bikes.  Then on to a warm shower and fresh, dry clothes.  :-).

Funny because when we visited Moab last it was in April and we never had a drop of rain.  Murphy’s Law, I presume.  Thank you Tom for listening to your head and not your heart and abandoning your ride and keeping me from the associated worry.
20150711-IMG_2718With another ride planned for tomorrow, they all lived for another day.  :-)  Stay tuned for the next blog post.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography


High Hopes For Arches NP


So the cross country cycling road trip begins … at least for me, since the guys had already driven from Fairfax, VA to Park City, UT, including a stop for some mountain biking near Laramie, WY.  As was mentioned in the last blog post, the skies had cleared up upon our leaving Park City and remained that way during the 4 hour drive into Moab.

While Moab is a mountain biker’s dream location, for me, there was also Arches National Park just down the street from our lodging.  My new friend, Rachel (also a photographer) and I gladly allowed the guys to head up to the Slickrock Trail for some evening warmup riding.  We, on the other hand, headed up to Arches NP to catch the last bit of light and the accompanying sunset.  She had never been there and I had such amazing memories from the last time Tom & I met up with another good friend, Rodney, and got some wonderful shots, including some night photography as well.20150710-DSC_4874

The clouds were wonderful in creating a nice texture to the sky backdrop.  While there were some visitors milling around, we did our best to try to eliminate from our images.


A quick check on the setting sun and those wonderful clouds made us excited for the eventual sunset.


When the sun eventually set on the horizon, there was still a wonderful bask of warm gorgeous light on the red rock formations, so iconic of Arches NP.

20150710-DSC_4900 20150710-DSC_4895

At one point I noticed that there was a rain storm brewing, but it was off in the distance.  We did wonder how the guys were fairing with the storm, but for us, we remained dry and determined.

20150710-DSC_4916 20150710-DSC_4914

Then the colors started to emerge ….

20150710-DSC_4924…. and it was gorgeous!  Just about that same time, we could hear thunder and see lighting bolts coming down around us, though still off in the distance.  We also noticed that there were now 3 different rain downpours off in varying directions from us.

The sky turned very dark quickly and we began to try to capture the lightning strikes around us.  OK, maybe not too successfully, but we gave it a good effort.  Then we decided that there would be no light painting on the arches for us tonight and departed.  In case you’re wondering, yes, the guys got some of the rain as well.  Tomorrow’s a new day.


After dropping the guys off at the trailhead for the “Whole Enchillada” the next morning, we headed off back to Arches NP for some hiking and photography.


But as you can see, the skies were once again not cooperating.  About 30 minutes into shooting, we got poured on, as we ran through the rain, thunder, and lightning, trying to keep our gear safe and dry.  Before we did, we were able to grab a few shots.

20150711-DSC_5029 20150711-DSC_5034 20150711-DSC_5036 20150711-DSC_5042

There’s something not compatible with lightning and barren exposures like the terrain at Arches NP.  While I had hoped to get some rest and venture out again in the middle of the night for night photography, the clouds made that an aborted effort.  I guess the rain had followed us and that I wasn’t meant to get much out of this side trip to Arches.  I wondered why … and hoped that I would find an answer somewhere along this road trip.  :-)

More to come from Moab, UT … stay tuned!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography


Park City & the Relentless Rain


After visiting my daughter, Kelli, and attending her “White Coat” Ceremony, it was time to return back to the cycling road trip.  It was my turn to support Tom wholeheartedly in his cycling endeavors, but in reality it wasn’t too hard of a task.  We were off to Park City, Moab, Grand Junction/Fruita, Mt. Evans, Colorado Springs, Denver, and wherever else Tom’s spirit felt like taking him.  :-)

Up at a horrendous time in the morning to catch a flight to Salt Lake City, I was rewarded by on-time flights.  Didn’t travel with much more than a small carry-on backpack, since I had left all of my camera gear with Tom when I left Baltimore (actually left Washington, DC, but Baltimore had direct flights).  When I arrived in Park City, Tom picked me up and before long we met up with some long time mountain biking friends, Dawn & Daryll.  Tom and Kelli used to race for years with them in Florida when Kelli grew up.  It was amazing to see them again and I know that Tom certainly enjoyed his riding time with them.

Our condo faced the Park City ski area, which was very convenient for them.  The resort offered downhill mountain bike/chair lift tickets and they all took advantage of it.  I, on the other hand, stayed away from the biking, since I tend to be “accident-prone” when cycling.  :-)


However, most of the afternoons looked like this out of our condo…. that’s right, pouring down rain, complete with very close vicinity electrical storms as well.  Ugh!  Of course, the guys and Dawn would set out in the sunshine in the morning with the best of intentions.  They would come back and tell me about the moose and her calf that they saw on the trails … the “lemur”, which was actually a weasel (don’t ask – LOL) … and the golden eagles they encountered.  Me, I was inside watching the Tour de France.  Ugh!


We spent 5 days there with the same routine each day.  I outsmarted my bad luck by dragging Tom out really early one morning, before his cycling.  We drove up Guardsmen Pass and were treated to wonderful views.

20150708-DSC_4841-3 20150708-DSC_4862 20150708-DSC_4850-3 20150708-DSC_4851-3

The wildflowers were also in bloom and quite beautiful.

20150708-DSC_4861-3 20150708-DSC_4858-3 20150708-DSC_4859

Just before leaving the Park City / Deer Valley area, of course, the sun emerged and blue skies broke through the clouds.  Oh well, it probably didn’t rain for the next week!  LOL


It was nice for Tom and Todd too, as they got to reunite with one of their dear friends, Ed, who spends part of his time out in that area.  They used to work at the Dania Beach Fire & Rescue together and reminisced over the good days.

photo 2

Of course, I would not be skunked on the wildlife front … unfortunately, this was the best I got during those rainy 5 days.  :-)


Totally not what I expected in terms of the lack of wildlife, but the trip was young still.

Next up:  Onward to Moab, UT … the mountain biker’s mecca.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Guaranteed to Make You Smile!


Yes, it’s time for more burrowing owls!  Being that I spend so much time with them … and they never fail to bring a smile to my face … I had to get in another blog post with them as the stars.  :-)


These little ones are simply the most expressive owls that you can imagine.  Those piercing yellow eyes and that stare that goes on and on.  As far as a staring contest, they always win hands down.


Very curious about the world around them, they cautiously make their way on occasions outside the confines of their roped off boundary to their burrow.  Being a protected species, it’s easy to find these burrows, as generally they are roped off for identification.  These particular ones are in a very active county park, so it’s important to know where they are … especially when the grounds keeper begins to mow their area!


This is how they look when they hear the sound of the mower coming their way … LOL … of course, I’m just kidding about that.


So social is their nature that they often try to perch on the same stake, rope, perch, or branch.


My favorite feature of the young ones is all of that wispy downy feathers around their “petticoat” area.  LOL.  That, and the color of their bellies … reminds me of Kahlua!


This one was stalking something, but from our vantage point, we couldn’t see what it was at first.


Then we saw it trying to right itself – one of its burrow mates had been in that submissive position near the entrance of the burrow.


Learning new things all of the time, like how to navigate a new branch.  I can’t help but think of tightrope walkers when I see them do this.


Old Twinkle Toes this one is as it flaps its wings and begins to fly off of its perch.  As you can see, the entire time it’s so concentrating on the task at hand.  Like our own little babies, always learning something new and processing that information.


Up …. and … down

20150519-DSC_1658 20150519-DSC_1684

It also enjoys a good game of Limbo too.


When all else fails, there’s always the old biting on one of its brothers or sisters.


As I think back at all of the good times I’ve shared while observing the owls I can’t help but smile all over again.  :-)


Next up:  Continuing on to Salt Lake City and Park City for the cycling adventure!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photogaphy


More From the Matanzas Tern Colony


In mid-June, I had an itch to return back to the least tern nests of St. Augustine Beach.  So my childhood friend, Kim, and I drove up to Jacksonville to also visit my daughter for the night.  In the morning, we left for the colony.  When we arrived, it was at first much like earlier … lots of least terns bringing in, and flying around with, fish intended for the females.

20150530-DSC_2759 20150530-DSC_2769

As per last week, sometimes the female still didn’t take the male up on his offer.


“Wait … you forgot to take the fish!”!  LOL


It wasn’t just the least terns that were calling the beach home, the Wilson’s plover also had nests and young ones in the roped off nesting areas as well.

20150530-DSC_2683 20150530-DSC_2852

I did finally get to see a few of the least tern chicks as well, though they were mainly covered up or huddled next to one of the parents.

20150616-DSC_3095 20150616-DSC_3046 20150616-DSC_3178 20150616-DSC_3309 20150616-DSC_3242

Again, it was a bit scary when both of the parents would fly off and leave the young chick exposed.


While some of the baby birds were out in the open, sometimes the parents strategically placed their young one in the grasses, which provided for a bit of protection for the little ones.


During breaks in all of the action, some least tern preening was always on tap.


When all else failed, there was a never-ending supply of males flying around with fish.  When the females would turn them down, sometimes they would just land nearby and devour it themselves.


It’s my hope that the young ones survived their early days, when they were very vulnerable to predators and mother nature in general.

Wanted to squeeze in another trip to see them, but I had to get on the road with Tom for his cycling competitions.

Want more burrowing owls?  Well, stay tuned.   :-)

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Sunrise & Terns


I have always wanted to photograph the least terns as they nest and raise their young on the beaches in Florida.  My good friend Jess knew this so she promised to keep me in the loop when the time was right to do just that.  At the end of May, I was visiting our home in Gainesville and got up super early to meet her over in St. Augustine for not only the least terns, but early enough to try out a sunrise as well.

While I wasn’t sure what kind of sunrise we were going to get, being that the skies were threatening and rain was most definitely in the forecast, we figured that we would try anyway.  At first, the skies didn’t want to cooperate with the sunrise colors, but before long it got pretty good.

20150530-DSC_4580-HDR 20150530-DSC_4535-HDR

I just love the sand dunes on the beaches in NE Florida … reminds me of my days at UF and the many weekends spent at the beaches of St. Augustine as well.


Such a beautiful beach, complete with a bit of a rocky shoreline in certain places.  I could have stayed here longer, but that wasn’t why we were up there.  Our quest was to see the terns, so off we went.


As excited as we were to photograph the least terns, they were quite excited seeing us as well.  OK, not quite the same thing, but we quickly settled down into our shooting spot and the birds soon calmed down knowing that we were not a threat to them nor their nests.


There was a lot of fish offering to the female going on … and to the male’s dismay, not much taking of the fish.  There wouldn’t be much “hanky panky” going on this morning.  Perhaps we were a bit early still.

20150530-DSC_2593 20150530-DSC_2594

Many of the least tern pairs were sitting on eggs … we could tell because they were fidgeting around when protecting them from the elements – heat especially, but also from the various predators whom might want to take their eggs.


Once in a while, even though tending to the guarding of the eggs, they would get spooked and momentarily fly away.  I would always get so nervous when they did.


Perhaps one of the most fascinating behavioral displays that I witnessed was their reaction to the resident ghost crabs in the area.  While many of the least terns were fighting amongst each other (over nest sites, a stray male offering a fish to the wrong female, some other mated pair getting too close, or a photographer moving too close or quickly), they sure knew how to unite for the cause when encountered with a potential threat to the entire colony.  Enter the ghost crab….


Wings immediately go up in defense by the terns, as they call out incessantly to each other and I imagine scream at the crab as it makes its way.  Support comes in as they tag team against the crab, who in turn tries to defend itself as well.

20150530-DSC_2723 20150530-DSC_2729

They take turns … on the ground and in the air.  LOL

20150530-DSC_2736 20150530-DSC_2743

I was surprised at just how close that they get to the crab, who possesses some pinchers that I’m sure could inflict some pain.


Every once in a while, one of the terns would get startled by the crab and would try to quickly retreat by flying away.  It’s quite entertaining to watch.


But eventually the crab would retreat or make its way through the mine field of terns – all ready to defend their turf.  Funny because the terns are just part-time residents of the beaches, while the crab is residential to the area.  :-)

In the meanwhile, more fish are flown in to the available females, and more rejections follow.


I visited the colony twice … once on this day and again a few weeks later.  More images will follow in the next blog post, so stay tuned!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Cycling … It’s What’s On Tap For Today’s Post


The 2015 World Police & Fire Games were recently held in Fairfax, Virginia.  Tom and some of his fellow firefighter colleagues, as well as police and law enforcement officers, from around the world showed up in full force to compete in the “Olympic-like” Games…. dubbed “The Games of Heroes”.  Tom competed in both road cycling and mountain biking events.  Let’s see the competition in images and stories…. this way ….


One of the Road Cycling events, and the first that Tom competed in, was the Criterium race.  Crit races are generally a mile or so circuit lap, repeated for a specified amount of minutes, then a designated number of additional laps.  In The Games, the competitors are divided in age groups, to keep the competition fair.  Funny because often the strongest riders are not necessarily the youngest.  When the start was whistled, off they went on their first lap.  I think that there was about 20 in Tom’s group at the start.

20150628-DSC_3557To help cheer Tom on, my cousin Violet and her daughter Nicole, who live nearby showed up and kept me company during those tense moments.  It was great to see them.


Before long, the group dropped over half of the riders, leaving just 8 lead riders.  The racers had timing chips, so that kept the # of laps straight, as several of the riders were “lapped” before the end of the race.


It was easy to spot Tom because thankfully he had on his sun sleeves, which help keep him safe from the sun.  Today, they were also the identification key for me as they zipped by with each lap.



About 1/2 way through the race, the 8 riders thinned out to only 6 in the lead group.  Tom kept his position in that group.

20150628-DSC_3753 20150628-DSC_3770

On the bell (final) lap, the 6 riders sprinted to the finish line.


Tom finished in 3rd Place … not bad for a guy that, though he rides his bike almost daily, hadn’t raced on the road in a very long time, especially in a crit race.  See, in a crit race, it’s more of a strategic race and it’s not necessarily the strongest rider, but rather the “smartest” rider that wins.


After the victory laps for the 3 medalists, it’s time for the Medal Ceremony.  Congrats guys!

20150628-DSC_4783 20150628-DSC_4788

The next day, it was on to the Mountain Bike Cross Country race and there were many more medals on the line.


The start of the race featured a bit of a road climb to “thin the pack” into the singletrack of the course.  Tom went into the course in 2nd position.

20150629-DSC_4047 20150629-DSC_4056

While Tom was racing in his age group, one of our friends Johnny Sobkowski (Sunrise FD), was racing in his younger age group and went on to take 3rd Place.


Another friend, Scott Sherry (Palm Beach FD) was also competing in his age group.


Tom arrived to finish his 1st lap, navigating in preparation of running through the ribboned route through the scoring area.


As he entered his 2nd lap, he was situated in 1st place…. Go Tom!


Todd Neal (Broward County Fire & Rescue) finished up his 1st lap as well.


Finally, after 1 hr, 18 mins Tom emerged to finish his race.

20150629-DSC_4276 20150629-DSC_4279 20150629-DSC_4284

Such determination shown in the fierce look of a competitor, as Tom crosses the finish line in 1st place!  WooHoo!


John Cole (Ret. Charleston FD) was also racing and part of our traveling group.  This was just the 2nd race ever for him.


Gil, who was from Washington state, works for the National Park Service and finished his age group in 1st place as well.


On the podium stood Malcolm Bow (Peel Regional Police Dept from Ontario) in 3rd Place, Tom (my person hero and sherpa & Ret. Dania Beach FD) claimed 1st Place, and Randy Winwood (Nanpa FD from Idaho) picked up 2nd Place.  I was quite proud of Tom.  It was a mere 14 years ago when he last competed in “The Games” and took 1st Place honors as well … guess the guy still has it!  LOL


After the races, it was time for some beers and lunch at a local brew pub.  Good times with good friends, for sure.


In celebration of the games also, we had a wonderful dinner with my cousin Violet and her husband, Bob.  Such wonderful memories!


At this time, I had to say goodbye to Maria Scherer (Dale City FD), who graciously hosted John, Todd, Tom & I during our stay at The Games.  She was so supportive of the guys and a great new friend for us as well.  :-)

20150629-IMG_2641 20150629-IMG_2633

© 2015 Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Note:  This blog post also takes a moment to honor the memory of Carlos Silva, Brazil PD and also in thought for the 2 other cycling competitors injured during the road race cycling event.


“The Games of Heroes”


Taking a break from my usual wildlife and nature photography, to bring you a slice of the “A” … adventure photography in the “TNWA Photography” name, as seen through my eyes at the 2015 World Police & Fire Games in Fairfax, Virginia.  More in that in just a bit …

It was the start of 30 days, on the road, of road and mountain biking for Tom and 2 of his firefighter friends.  Yes, I was pretty much along for this ride, so I had to shoot when & where I could.

So on Jun 24th, Tom & I set off on the road to Charleston, SC … in his pickup filled to the brim with toys … 4 bicycles, 3 RC glider planes, 2 fully packed camera bags, 2 tripods, 4-5 backpacks, 2 suitcases, enough tools and bike supplies to open a mini bike shop, cooler, and 2 laptop computers.  We were prepared for just about anything … good thing too.  :-)

20150624-IMG_2570 20150625-IMG_2573

Once we arrived in SC, we spent the night and continued on our journey to Fairfax, VA.  Once there, the first order of business was the athlete registration/check-in.


Dubbed “The Games of Heroes”, this was a huge international event … it celebrated our police, fire, and law enforcement athletes from over 12,000 athletes from about 70 countries.  Some were there in full celebration of their country’s heritage, such as the athletes from Norway.  My new friend Maria, herself a firefighter for Dale City, VA, got on the fun end of this photo op.  :-)


Of course with the USA having the host country honors, Team USA was there in full force.


Tom (my hubby & “sherpa”) and his fellow co-worker Todd were both quite excited to be there.  It was Tom’s 2nd World Games, but Todd’s first.  The next day, the guys (Tom, Todd, Johnny, and John) went to trial ride the mountain bike course, but conditions were deteriorated and pre-riding was not suggested.  There they met up with a Belgium police officer who was also competing in the mountain biking event.


At these “Games”, it was celebrated much as the real Olympics are celebrated … complete with a Grand Opening Ceremony and a Parade of Countries featuring the athletes.  So the guys decided to represent their country the best that they could.  I was loving those flashing USA glasses!  LOL


The athletes had to enter through their tunnel when it was time for their country to march.


So off went the guys to join their fellow competitors.  As we said our goodbyes before leaving them, we reminded them … Don’t forget to turn those glasses lights on!


Maria & I, as spectators entered RFK Stadium in Washington DC and grabbed a seat quickly … yes, basking in the sun.  It was only about 5pm.


I remember being impressed with the flags of the nations represented at the games displayed in the center of the stadium field.


We watched patiently, with a sense of awe and pride for each of the competitors, and felt their huge sense of accomplishment of them just being there.  Of course, our friends from Norway were marching proudly as usual.


Finally, the USA began their march through the stadium.  Now, let me see where Tom is … and I hope I can find him in the sea of USA athletes!


What seemed like an eternity went by, but finally there he was, pointing at me as he spotted me near the front of the crowds.


John (Ret. Charleston FD), Scott (Palm Beach County FD), Tom (Ret. Dania Beach FD), & Todd (Broward County Sheriff’s Office FD) – all firefighters – were marching together.  All of them will be competing in the mountain bike race in just a few days.


There were many speeches going on during the ceremony … some local leaders, heads of the World Police & Fire Games, TV stars, well known athletes, but one impressed me more than the others.


Retired General and Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was present and address the athletes and the spectators, with a special memorial re: 9/11, amongst other messages.  It was truly an honor, no matter what political views you have.


At the end of the evening, as there was in the beginning of the ceremony, 2 fire truck ladder hoisted up a huge American flag in a show of support and celebration.  Oh yeah, Let The Games Begin!


Images and stories from the cycling events will follow in another post, so stay tuned!

© 2015 Debbie Tubridy

The Owls of the Burrow


Hello again … returning to the burrowing owls … my feathered friends of the spring season which I always look forward to capturing images of each year.


Exploration of the world around them is always fascinating to watch when I visit them.  They encounter flowers, small crawling insects, many flying bees and dragonflies, a bit of trash that found its way towards the burrow, and the attention of onlookers.


Their curiosity is just through the roof … much like our own young, they find everything and anything, and MUST pick it up to investigate it further.  :-)

20150513-DSC_4138 20150513-DSC_4152

Not all burrowing owls have those bright yellow eyes that they are so famous for.  This particular burrow last year, with the same parents, produced several with yellow eyes and several with very dark eyes.  Those parents this year had primarily lighter eyed owlets, with the color below being one of the darker ones.


Life around the burrow is quite an active one, especially when the young ones are still learning to navigate themselves in flight.  When they’re not flying overhead or low to the grasses, they often hop around in short burst jumps.


They are so beautiful in flight, though most times it’s hard to get their faces not shrouded by their beautiful wings in flight.


Oops, looks like this one has just spotted something flying overhead.


How about a game of peekaboo?  They just have endless things to do and an endless array of expressions.  :-)


Of course, there’s always time for a little bit of mutual grooming and “kissing”.  They really seem to enjoy it.

20150513-DSC_4121 20150513-DSC_4114

Before long, they’re flying about again.  I absolutely adore the way that they land with those talons ready for the grab.  Look at that concentration on its face as well.


This one must have been studying some magic, as it seems to be levitating above the branch while perched with it sibling.  LOL


A topside view of the owl in flight shows off its beautiful markings in its feathers, wingspan, and beautiful face.  Gosh, I love those birds!


Then it’s back to those inquisitive stares.

20150513-DSC_4141 20150519-DSC_1389

All fluffed up are you?  Well, if you haven’t spent some time with burrowing owls yet, be sure to make it a plan to do so.  You’ll be glad that you did!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

It’s That Time Again …. !


One of the things that I love most living in south Florida is our availability of burrowing owls to photograph.  They are year-round residents, but my favorite time of year is in the spring of course.  That’s when the baby owlets begin to emerge out of their burrows for the first time.  :-)


They are hysterical to observe as they very timidly peek outside at the world around them. They are so curious at just about everything going on “above ground”, for the first few weeks they were nurtured within the protection of the underground burrow … safe from the predators and the elements.  When first introduced to their new life outside, they tend to stay huddled together.


Just how cute are they?  This is the stage that I affectionately refer to as the “hair plug stage”  (sorry guys).  LOL


While the babies remain close to the burrow, the dad usually ventures out to hunt for food in the early morning or late evening.  You can tell the adult by the speckled pattern on the underside, while the babies possess that mocha colored downy look.


While the young ones stand vigil at the entrance to the burrow, already with a keen eye for what’s going on in their surroundings.  But as with anything else, there’s always one that gets easily distracted.


The adults are extremely protective of their young and will observe the overhead skies for any signs of a potential threat or predator.  One quick bark from either mom or dad and those owlets retreat in almost a blink of an eye.  Very early on too, they learn to begin to scan the skies themselves.


In south Florida, the majority of the threats come from red-shouldered hawks, though a handful of red-tailed hawks also circle overhead looking for a meal.


These owls are also quite expressive and have a never-ending array of “looks”.                   There’s the surprised look ….


The caught in the act look ….


Everyone’s favorite though is always the curiosity look, with the head cocked over to one side, sometimes even almost totally upside down.  LOL


After not too much time they learn to fly, which is absolutely by far my favorite time.  You can just see their minds at work, trying to calculate that perfect plan for flight.  Usually they start off perfecting the lowest perch-able item around, most often the stake that usually is present to identify the burrow.


Sometimes there’s a nearby perch which can be used as their next step.  I just love how they always stop and size up their next step.  On a side note, look at those wonderful downy under feathers, or what I call, the “petticoat”.  So adorable.


No test though is more fun to watch as the rope landing.  Of course, that rope is not the most secured nor stable landing, so when they land and begin to pull in their wings, they wobble … back & forth, over and over.  Eventually they perfect that balancing act.


Then there’s playtime … so entertaining.  Again, you can watch the “attack scheming” in action play out.  Usually one plays a more dominant role, while the other performs a more submissive behavior.


Eventually they break it up, but not before the fun watching the one on its back squirm around trying to right itself again.


Yes, the burrowing owls are a real “hoot” to photograph.  So take a bow for your audience young owl, but don’t think that this is the end of my time with you.  The season is young and lots more visits loom ahead.


Next up:  More burrowing owls

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Birds, New Learnings, New Friends


At the Alligator Farm, we spent 4 days shooting primarily the birds of the rookery as they went about all of the activities surrounding the breeding season.  I’m talking full days too – from 7:00AM until sometimes 8:00PM.  Of course, being that this was a photography workshop, we got to go inside the classrooms for educational components as well.  Yep, right in the heat of the day thankfully!

Each day, I tried to build upon the skills and tidbits that I had picked up from the previous days.  Let’s see how I’m doing …. ;-)


The great white egrets were a thrill to photograph, especially since many of them had their babies.  I was a bit taken back by some of the baby birds and the treatment of their nest mates, I’ve got to admit it.  I know that it’s natures way and it’s all about survival of the fittest, but it’s still a bit sad for me to watch.


Not all of the birds had already nested, complete with eggs or babies.  Some were still strutting their stuff, dancing away, advertising for a willing mate.  LOL.  I found that I could watch them forever in their rhythmic dance, so purposeful and precise, though I found myself really wanting this poor guy to get taken up on his offer.


This guy too!


As I mentioned, many of the mated pairs already were sitting on eggs, as this heron was kind enough to display for us (as long as we were quick), before they returned to sitting on them again.


The cattle egret were also nesting, though I don’t recall seeing any of their babies yet.  Perhaps I just missed them because there were just so many birds!


The wood storks are quite huge, yet still very graceful as they navigated the skies, trees, and other birds, while going about their daily activities.

20150504-DSC_1055 20150504-DSC_1062 20150504-DSC_1093

It was never-ending work too.

Then there was this image, where perhaps a dozen roseate spoonbills were all lined up at the top of the trees, some of which were doing courtship maneuvers of their own.  I found them so beautiful against that blue sky.


Many of the photographers and visitors were dodging bird poop … quite comical actually, though I was lucky enough to not be one of those christened.  Maybe if I had it wouldn’t have been so amusing.  :-)  It wasn’t just the humans though … many of the birds were targets as well.  Yes, it was tight quarters in the rookery.  Guess this one will be taking a bath soon.


These treetop extension shots, showing off the undercarriage of the spoonbills wings, were probably some of my favorite shots.  So very graceful and quite beautiful … like pink ballerinas.


Of course, this rookery isn’t called “Bird Farm”, but rather the Alligator Farm, so the gators were the real stars to most visitors.  They performed as well, as the males would get excited every now and then and let out their bellow sound, sink a bit into the water, and make the water surrounding them vibrate and dance.  It’s quite fascinating to see and hear!


As the day was nearing its end, the sun would set and cast the most wonderful golden light.


Before we said our goodbyes, that light turned a fiery orange-red and by chance, this guy graced us with his dance yet one more time.


It was a fascinating workshop (Shoot the Light FL Bird Tech Series) with great instructors who were more than willing to assist you in your learning and shooting.  Thanks so much to Chas Glatzer for the instruction and inspiration, and to Michael and Dave for their clarification and assistance in the field.  Thanks also to my classmates, many of which are my new friends as well.  I had a blast!  :-)

Next Up:  “Hooooo” wants to spend time with some more owls?

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Where Are the Alligators?


Starting off the month of May, I headed up to St. Augustine, Florida, specifically to visit and photograph the Alligator Farm.  It was my first time to visit their natural rookery, though I had been to Gatorland in Orlando numerous times in the past.  I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was also participating in a 4-day workshop there – focusing on the technical aspects of photography, specially metering, composition, flash, and post processing.

It was really nice being part of the class too, since we got an extra hour of shooting in the early AM, even before the “photographer pass” holders.  Good thing too, because it got more crowded as the day went on, as well as quite a bit hotter.

One of the first birds I encountered, as we were perfecting our metering skills, was this great white egret flying ever so gracefully overhead.


Being that this was pretty much the height of the breeding season, most if not all of the birds were “dressed” to the nines.


Look at those colors, that beak, that plumage, and that magnificent red eye!


The big instigator of the group was always hands down the antics and vocalizations of the snowy egret…. glub, glub, walla, walla.  LOL  Speaking of a display of plumage … how does it get much better!


Many of the birds, like this beautiful wood stork, were busy building or reinforcing their nests.  Just love the way this guy posed against that deep blue sky.


Of course, one of the most colorful showy birds in attendance, were the roseate spoonbills.  With their plumage in full bloom, they offered us varying displays of their beauty, grace, and uniqueness.


The reflections weren’t so bad either.  ;-)


Yes, take a bow, for you sure were the focus of all the camera lenses out there.  Whether flying overhead, perched up on the trees, sitting on their nests, tending to their young, and especially when bathing in the waters, they were the star.



It was like eye candy to the nature photographer and I was excited to see what else we would find along the way.  Oh yeah, the metering thing, I think that I just might have learned a thing or two.  All good!




Next up … More from the Alligator Farm  :-)

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography


Guess Who Came To Dinner?


I was planning a trip up to St. Augustine for a photography workshop and I had a full day to get up there.  My good friend Jess suggested that I meet with her to photograph an osprey nest outside of Orlando and promised that I would find the shoot amazing.

I met her at the nest and I was quite impressed with the vantage point that it offered of the nest.  I set up and began shooting.  Osprey are always a wonderful subject to photograph in Florida and I personally find them quite fascinating.  So beautifully marked, that sharp beak and impressive talons, that intriguing face.


While I found the mom quite wonderful to shoot, I wanted to see that baby osprey that I knew was there, but hiding underneath its mom.  As if to oblige us, it emerged from the protection of mom and gave us a glimpse.  I was elated.


It turned to look our way and then it happened … our eyes met and my heart melted.  I do believe that I squealed with delight.  :-)  I think that it even smiled at us.  :-)


It was so adorable … with that chicken-skin texture to it and the soft downy look appearing on it.  Not sure exactly, but I believe that it was between a few days old and less than 1 week.


Mom was actively looking around for its mate, as the the baby sat nearby.


She began to make some minor adjustments to the layout of the nest.  That little one was just as wobbly as could be too, taking a few steps, then falling over.  I worried about it and prayed that it didn’t fall overboard.


Finally, dad finally arrived back to the nest and brought a fresh catch for the family to dine upon.


The baby osprey knew what was going to happen next and immediately started to call out for its dinner, leaving an open target for mom to reach its hungry mouth.


She was a good mom too, taking her time to tear off bits of the “sushi dinner” and offer it to her young one.


This feeding session went on for quite some time.  Sometimes, she would grab a bit for herself along the way.  I had to laugh as the little one appeared to be in desperate need of a napkin!  LOL

20150430-DSC_9193 20150430-DSC_9194

This little one never seemed to be full either … always begging for more food from its mom.


Sometimes I had to wonder how it didn’t choke!  But it always seemed to manage to get the bits and pieces, even when they appeared to be too big, down the hatch.


To our delight mom eventually offered us a better view of both of them during mealtime.  We sure appreciated that.

20150430-DSC_9313 20150430-DSC_9332

Actually she offered us a few different angles to shoot the action from.  The one below was probably my favorite!


Eventually, they were both stuffed for the moment.  She moved the remaining portion of fish over and settled in for some bonding and rest.  But of course, not before giving us a great angle of the happy mother and her baby.


Since I don’t live in the area, I’m not sure what happened to the young osprey.  That being said, I sure enjoyed the time that I spent with Jess and the osprey family on that day.  After grabbing a bite to eat and catching up, I had to make my way to St. Augustine…. in the dark!  Oh, and by the way, YES, it was definitely worth the side trip!

Stay tuned for more Florida birds!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography


An Unusual Visitor


It started out just like any other day … a hot early spring day in south Florida … nice and muggy!  But this day was a bit different in that I was signed up to do something quite special.  See, we had visitors in town … the kind of visitors that you don’t get to see often. In fact, I had never seen them personally, in the wild, that is.  Off we went to go see us some birds.  It didn’t take long before we arrived at our destination.  OK, so we see some lovely white pelicans, a bunch of terns, a gathering of black-necked stilts, some coots, and a few cormorants.  While that was itself fine to see, it wasn’t what we came to see.


I pulled out my binoculars (yes, Tom would be proud) and quickly found them.  What were they, you ask?  What every new tourist that arrives in Miami and thinks that we can see out of our window everyday (thanks to the Miami Vice series), but nothing could be farther than the truth.  I’m talking FLAMINGOS!  Real flamingos too, not those roseate spoonbills that people call out as flamingos.  LOL


OK, so they weren’t a close encounter by any stretch and I had left my 500mm lens at home, but they were there.  I felt a sense of awe in me that is usually reserved for when I see my first brown bear each year in Alaska.  :-)


It was fascinating to observe them – 4 in all, 3 adults and 1 juvenile.  It was a bit frustrating as they spread out a bit and seemed to have their heads in the water more than not, as they dined on algae, aquatic invertebrates, and small fish.


We photographed them for about an hour and were ready to leave when all of a sudden one took flight!  Having my gear already in hand, as we were literally ready to pack it up, I immediately dropped everything but my camera and began to shoot it in flight … against all hope of getting a shot.  To my surprise, it wasn’t all that bad.


I was amazed at their beauty and grace … that long slender neck, beautiful black tipped bill slightly bent, that amazing 60 inch wingspan, and those long legs … executing the perfect extension in flight.  I don’t believe that I even muttered a breathe until it landed.

20150412-DSC_2212 20150412-DSC_2216

Funny how it reminded me a seaplane coming in for a landing and splashing on touchdown as it continued to coast just a bit.


Soon it settled into the water, but not before it gave us a nice look at its impressive wingspan.


Upon its arrival, which was closer to us than the others, the various water birds who were resting nearby, all took flight in unison.


It began to forage around for food.


Soon it encountered some other birds who were sharing that same area of the wetlands.  They seemed to be unimpressed with its presence.


Not me though, I was quite impressed.  Not as impressed if I would have been to catch that amazing image of the flamingos mating a few weeks later.  But hey, you take what you get and I guess that means one day I’ll be even more excited!  :-)

Next up:  How about a visit with a lovely osprey family?

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

A New Bird Generation At Work :-)


Returning to the habitat known as Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach, the birds continually evolve in their spring behavior of courting, mating, nesting, and rearing of their young ones.

Not all babies have been born yet at this time, as this black-neck stilt can attest to … though it shouldn’t be long for they have been at it for some time already.


Other birds, such as the black-bellied whistling ducks, pass over the wetlands repeatedly, each time making their presence known.  They usually fly in flocks in varying numbers, but no matter the number, the listener can understand quickly how they got their name.  They have the distinctive sound of very loud whistling as they are within the area.  I personally can’t stop laughing when I hear it.


Of course, they’re just as silly looking when they tidy up a bit with a nice refreshing bath.


Yes, the birds are seemingly everywhere and it never ceases to amaze how incredibly protective and possessive they get in the spring.

20150506-DSC_3604 20150521-DSC_2091 20150506-DSC_3602

I think that every time I visited to Wako, I witnessed an attack of a red-shouldered hawk who was either innocently passing through or looking for a quick delicacy.  This one got double-teamed – a stilt and red-winged backbird were both on its tail … literally!


The babies that were first born grew up so fast too and have their own version of sibling squabbles going on.


I have to say that these great blue heron parents are quite patient with their attention-needy, beak-grabbing, little ones.  LOL


The tri-colored herons always remind me of little prehistoric guys with those faces that only a mother can love.  Look how excited they get when she returns!  LOL

20150506-DSC_1172 20150506-DSC_1184 20150521-DSC_2044

Now we all know how baby birds often get fed, but come on, this looks quite painful!  How they manage to stay upright in the trees as they jerk around, almost violently, being fed.  It’s really amazing to watch.


Probably the most fascinating to watch as they grew up were the wood storks.  Speaking of prehistoric looking, these birds take the prize in that category.  I personally though find them beautiful … I know, in their own way.  They start off so tiny, but before long, grew up quite fast.

20150409-DSC_8638 20150506-DSC_3749

Are they just not the cutest????


So goes it at the natural rookery of Wakodahatchee Wetlands.  Like most places in nature, you just never know what you’re going to get when you go there, but it’s always something interesting and often, heart-warming.

Next up on the blog:  Speaking of the unexpected … check out who spent some time for a visit!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Spring Is In The Air ~~~


Spring means many different things to many different people, but to the birds it’s often a time to start putting on the beautiful colors, woo their mate, have a “little fun” along the way, build their nest, attend to their eggs, and ultimately raise their young.

This spring, I spent some time photographing the birds of Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach, FL.  In the beginning, it was all about the variety of birds, all beginning to sport their breeding colors and plumage … in that attempt of mating a suitable mate … or getting them “in the mood”.  :-)

One of the birds that seems to undergo quite a dramatic change in colors and feathers is the cattle egret.  In non-breeding colors, it’s often an overlooked bird … usually just hanging out around livestock or wherever.  Enter spring, and it becomes quite the impressive suitor.


Of course, the great white egrets are also quite showy … from their distinctive facial color changes to that amazing plumage … wispy feathers and all.

20150409-DSC_8390 20150415-DSC_2809

Not only that, but it sure can “dance”!  You know, those moves that simply scream “look at me!”  So persistent too.


Part of attracting their mate involves the building of a solid nest for them to raise their young and that nest building seems to go on and on … much to the fascination and delight of those there to photograph it.


Theirs is a true love story … such bonding, caring, sharing, and celebration.  Aren’t they just the cutest couple?  LOL



Of course, there’s more to it than just building a nest and doing the deed.  Now that hard part comes when they work together tending to each other, the nest, and the eggs.


Attention to every little detail is always noted too.  Look at those amazingly beautiful plumes.  I’m quite fascinated by them.


Then there were the least terns, the smallest of the North American terns in size, but not in their courtship ritual this time of year.  The offering of the fish is a necessary step in the process, because only when the female finally accepts it, will she be indicating that the courtship may proceed to the next level.  Terns fly around at lightning speed and their aerial dives are legendary.

20150506-DSC_3589 20150506-DSC_3673

In some areas they nest on the sandy beaches, but at Wako, most of their courtship takes place on a hot tin roof!


Enter the snowy egret (glub glub, walla walla) … you can literally hear him long before you can even see him.  These guys have such fluffy plumage which seems to get even crazier when they get excited.  They also do quite the impressive dance of love.


They also never sit still for any length of time, darting from tree to tree, almost seemingly looking to stir up trouble or controversy at best.  LOL

20150415-DSC_2700 20150415-DSC_2516

It’s not all peace, love, and happiness either.  Some species get a bit territorial during the spring season and little fights break out, as illustrated by these moorhens.


Yes, it was totally fun watching nature unfold, thus ensuring the next generation of these wonderful birds of Wakodahatchee.


More to come in the next blog, as the new arrivals begin to pop up everywhere.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Our Last Teton Hurrah!


We stayed 3 days in Grand Teton NP, but of course, each day is substantially different that the one before … or the next for that matter.  Coming in from Jackson Hole, we immediately pass by the Elk Refuge, which was no longer covered in snow and the elk were largely leaving already.  However, there was a juvenile bald eagle hanging out in the area.


We observed him for quite some time.  The light was far from optimal for capturing its beauty, but we sure got some fun poses and behaviors from it.  How fascinating those talons are!


When we first arrived to GTNP, the Antelope Flats was fully closed, but by day 3, it was partially open.  I wanted to photograph the famous Moulton Barn in the snow cover, so we went as far as we could on the road, then hiked in the rest of the way.  I was a bit surprised to see the the snow cover was missing in some areas … still it was so beautiful and particularly fun, especially since you could “hear” the silence … yes, we had it to ourselves.


Along the way, we came across numerous ice patches in the gravel road.  I was fascinated by their beauty.


Their geometric shapes were so interesting and each one was unique.


Some of the frozen ice patches were frosted and opaque, while others were clear and full of bubbles.


At one point, I noticed something fly by … it was quite beautiful … and to my shock, it was a mountain bluebird … already in mid-March!  Yes, it had been a mild winter and we later learned that this was the beginning of their sightings.  I felt so privileged to be able to partake in their beauty.


Of course, that wasn’t the only bird that we sighted, as many species of duck and other water birds were present as well.


This Canadian Goose had its own version of ice fishing … which we found quite entertaining and quite comical.  :-)

20150322-DSC_1253 20150322-DSC_1458

We made a special trip to see the bighorn sheep again.  This time it was the ewes and the lambs and juveniles that we encountered first.  The herds were already up on the mountainside.


Mama was teaching the young ones an important lesson in their survival skills … how to navigate those rocky cliffs and ledges … to evade their predators.


I was thrilled to be able to witness them as they tested their skill, though I have to admit, I was probably more nervous than both of them put together!

20150322-DSC_1554 20150322-DSC_1555 20150322-DSC_1634 20150322-DSC_1563

Stunned … that’s how I felt as they descended in almost a complete vertical fashion, down  the ledges and rocky landscape.  I know that they’re hooves are specifically equipped for such travel, but it’s still heart-stopping to observe.


When they decide to “haul butt” too, they can sure get up and go!


I know that I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again … nature is so amazing!


Of course, there’s so much more beauty in the landscape of the Tetons to explore as well.

20150322-_DSC2811 20150322-_DSC2814


I didn’t want to leave, but we had to get back to Bozeman for an early morning flight the next day.  I noticed that a storm seemed to be coming, as the mountain range soon became shrouded by the clouds.  As we left the park and Jackson Hole, we started out towards the Teton Pass.  Wouldn’t you know it … it began to snow … a fairly heavy snowfall too.  I call it “divine intervention” … you know, making it OK to leave, for photography would become difficult for a bit.  Except for, that amazing beauty of the area in mid-snowfall … yes, that’s its own beauty.


Until next year, when we will most surely return, goodbye Tetons!

Next up:  More birding in Florida

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

A Grand Teton Homecoming


Always a much anticipated visit is Grand Teton National Park and the community of Jackson Hole.  It has so much to offer … from landscapes to wildlife, it never disappoints.

This year we met up with an amazing photographer, Jen Hall, whom I met originally on Flickr.  It’s always such a pleasure to shoot with locals, so we met up in the early pre-sunrise hour and headed off to get some morning first light.  It was absolutely perfect!


Unlike Yellowstone NP, the Tetons still had a fair share of snow covering the ground, which is always exciting for us.


Having already photographed bison, moose, bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyote, pronghorn, as well as a few other animals, I still felt the void of the red fox, as I didn’t get to photograph one in Yellowstone.  I REALLY wanted to have a fox encounter, so it was high on my list for the day.

We passed by other wildlife, in search of the sly fox, who was doing a good job in avoiding us.  I’ve always found that when you try so desperately to find a particular subject, it can sometimes elude you.  After hours of looking for a fox, we pretty much took a break, myself figuring that it wasn’t in the cards for that day.  There’s something to be said for staying put and allowing wildlife to come to you.

All of a sudden “eagle eyes” Tom became alert and noticed something emerging from the trees in the snow.  Sure enough, there it was … a magnificent-looking fox.


After the scurry of reaching for the cameras, I don’t think anyone said one word, fearing it would alter its path, as it was headed right in our direction.  I personally don’t believe that I was even breathing as I clicked away.


Gosh, it sure was stunning to see and it was quite cooperative with us, as it eventually sat down not far from us (as we were sat still inside our vehicle).  It didn’t seem to be in a rush to get anywhere … in fact, seemed quite sleepy and bored.  LOL  At one point, it gave us quite a yawn … couldn’t believe all of those teeth, which by the way, were quite clean-looking.  :-)


At first,we thought it was a female (mama), but soon realized it was a male, as it seemed to mark anything and everything it could as it traveled in it path.


At one point, it became quite interested in something … as it hunted … and ultimately came up with a tasty morsel, which it quickly consumed.


Must have been good too, as it quickly licked its chops!  LOL


Last year I photographed a red fox for a bit, as it moused in the snow.  It was quite fun, but also quite far.  This guy was a bit more “chill”, but he made up for it with his closeness to us and his cooperation as well.  Clearly someone had taught this guy a thing or two about camera angles.  :-)


Once that red fox was checked off my list of wildlife to photograph, we were open for business for the other wildlife, such as the bighorn sheep.  We encountered a large herd of rams as they were slowly, but surely, making their way across the landscape.  Some young ones were in the group too … this one guy clearly had a bit too much energy too … as he jumped almost incessantly, head-butting his buddies.

20150321-DSC_0940 20150321-DSC_0995

As they navigated to the mountainside, I was so impressed with the speed they possessed.  Yes, it was a great encounter as well.  Such magnificent creatures!


So whether it’s wildlife or landscapes, it’s all beautiful and rewarding for the visitor taking it all in.


More images and stories from Grand Teton NP will be featured in the next blog post, so stay tuned!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

2 Owl Species & A Porcupine :-)


I LOVE OWLS!!!  All kinds of owls … from the burrowing … to the barred … to the great horned … to the snowy … to the great gray … to the barn … and yes, to the eastern screech owl … endorphins release in my brain when I think about them.  (Side note for those of you who read my blog post on my neighborhood eastern screech owls … we heard them last night calling out to each other, so they’re still here … all is good again).

So when I had the opportunity to potentially get to photograph not just one, but two new species for me, I was quite the excited photographer!  So off we went, thanks to a great friend of mine.

It wasn’t long either until we spotted the first one … the long-eared owl.  Isn’t he just gorgeous?  I laugh because when I first saw it, I think that I had a similar facial expression … wide-eyed and intense.


These long-eared owls are quite amazing.  So very beautiful with their rufous facial disc with that distinctive white patch under their bill.  They remind me a lot of the great horned owls, but they’re smaller, standing about 13-16″ and weighing about 8.5 oz.


They have asymmetrical ear openings.  The left ear is higher than the right, which helps them better locate their prey by sound.


I could have stayed there photographing them for the rest of our trip … they were that mesmerizing to me.  :-)  Interesting also to note is that the male’s hoot can sometimes be heard quite the distance … more than 1/2 mile away!  It would be like playing a game of “Marco”-“Polo” trying to find them by just sound.


They are unlike other owls in that during the winter months, they nest in a communal fashion with others in the nearby vicinity, in the thick brush and trees.  It’s easy to see how they got their name too … like bunny rabbit ears almost.  LOL.  Can’t help but wonder about their success in nesting and what their babies look like.


While out looking for owls, we saw many other birds, like this meadowlark … doing what meadowlarks do … singing away.  We also saw more northern harriers than I have ever seen collectively in my lifetime.  It was amazing!


But let’s get back to the owls.  Another lifer for me were the short-eared owls.  They reminded me a lot of the northern harriers too as they cruised the same type of landscapes foraging for food.


As with other owls, they glided gracefully and with such ease low over the landscape.  As opposed to the long-eared owls, these had very small ear tufts.  Also a medium-sized owl, their head has a pale buff facial disc, with black around the eyes, which of course, are that magnificent yellow.


Aerial displays during courtship must be fascinating to observe, though it was too early for that when we were there.  These owls nest on the ground on a mound or slight raise of the land, laying about 3-11 eggs.

20150320-DSC_0738 20150320-DSC_0727

While usually spotted flying erratically around, once in awhile they do land and seemingly pose for the camera.  Thankfully.  :-)


As if those owl sightings weren’t enough for me, we were also treated to the cutest porcupine hanging out, feeding, on a nearby tree.


I’m always fascinated by them and this guy was quite far up the tree, so I felt safe.  LOL.  Of course, porcupine don’t “throw” their quills like many are lead to believe, but to me, their sheer presence wants to make me respect their “comfort zone”.


Now this guy, though adorable with those big orange teeth, was only semi-cooperating with us.  Sure the light was perfect, but that dang branch always seeming to cover up his face and eyes partially.


So we asked for some divine intervention.  Actually Jen asked the porcupine to kindly remove that pesky branch for us, so that we might get a better shot.  I had no idea that I was with, apparently, the “Porcupine Whisperer”.  Within literally a few seconds, would you believe that the porcupine did just that?  No joke!


Now that’s a face that everyone can both see, enjoy, and love!  What an ending to our day exploring … Owls and Porcupines … yeah,this was an awesome day!


Not sure how it can get better for me, but rest assured it does!

Next stop:  Grand Teton National Park!  Stay tuned.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

I Need My Photography Fix!


After spending several days skiing, while Tom, Kelli & Mitchell snowboarded, I decided that I wanted to have a break.  I dropped them off at Powder Mountain near Ogden and started my way to Antelope Island State Park.  I had been there last winter and it was so beautiful all covered in snow, with the waters frozen as well.  Of course, that wasn’t the case this year, for the winter had been such a mild one … no snow at all … limited ice … warm … I couldn’t believe it!


Unsure as to what I was going to see, I began to tour the island and look for wildlife.  Usually, one doesn’t go far before bison, mule deer, coyote, etc are spotted.  But what in the world was this?  I had no clue, but learned about it along the way.


It was a chukar partridge, which is in the pheasant family.  Not native to the area or anywhere in US, it was imported here as a game bird … makes sense.  Come to find out that its actually an Eurasian bird, and the national bird of both Pakistan and Iraq!  Well, I guess you learn something new everyday (at least I do – LOL).


This guy was so beautiful with such remarkable markings in its feathers.  It would sit up on one of the large rocks on the landscape and watch … and call out … and observe some more.  I was being very careful as to not disturb it and to my surprise it just let me photograph it.  He apparently was communicating, in a sentinel fashion, with the rest of his colony, though I never saw them.


Further up the road, I encountered several coyotes as they searched for a quick bite to eat.  It was amazing to me that in the brown past-winter landscape, how difficult it was to spot from afar.  Thank goodness I had my binocs with me.  :-)


Being that he was very intent on hunting, thus probably very hungry, I didn’t shoot long.


Ended up down by the ranch, where a lone pronghorn antelope was making its way.  Wonder why he was there all alone like that?  Seemed like out on the flats like that, all alone, he/she would be an easy target.  Looked for the great horned owls … found their nest, but didn’t see either of them this year.  All in all, it was a beautiful day, but a bit slow for wildlife.


So, as I made my way back to exit the park, I bid my new Chukar friend, adieu.  He was still hanging out and playing the role of “the watchman”.  Doing a fine job at it as well too.


This shot from the Visitor Center area gives you some perspective of the landscape both there as well as SLC area across the way.  So very beautiful!


The next day, we had one more day of snowboarding/skiing before we had to say goodbye to Kelli & Mitchell.  Gosh, it’s so pretty out this way in the winter.



Next up:  “Hoooo” wants to see more owls?

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

The Sights & Sounds of Yellowstone NP


One can’t visit Yellowstone NP and get an appreciation of what it has to offer in just one day … not even in the winter when most of the roads are inaccessible.  Even though we were a bit short on time, we spent 3 full days there.

Now wildlife abounds in Yellowstone and one of the more famous resident species is the elk.  Many sightings of elk were encountered, both the females and the males.  Of course, at this point, they had all dropped their antlers, but still had most of their nice winter coats.


You had to be careful of them too, as they sometimes crossed the roads with very little warning.  Of course, when there’s one, there’s usually more, so the key is to proceed with caution.


Entering the park via the Gardiner entrance, the first area of Yellowstone that you come across is the fascinating Mammoth Hot Springs area – the first of many thermal grounds within Yellowstone.

20150312-DSC_6091Viewing the thermal features of the park, it’s easy to forget it’s not all hot springs and geysers and that this was still winter.  Icicle formations hanging over the rivers were equally impressive this time of year.  Snap back into reality.


Proving that yesterday’s bighorn sheep encounter wasn’t just a fluke, we ran into them again… over and over.  :-)

20150312-DSC_6100 20150312-DSC_6126 20150312-DSC_6149

I’m always fascinated with wildlife when I get to photograph them from their viewpoint, like in this image below.  What an amazing place that they currently call their home.  I couldn’t help but wonder what this big guy was thinking too.


OK, you know how your pets love to bask in the sunshine?  Well, these sheep are obviously no different.  LOL


Another first for us, though admittedly not an great shot, was not just one, but two juvenile moose – hanging out together in the vast expanse of Lamar Valley.


One of the most difficult wildlife encounters I’ve ever dealt with was the story of a bison who had unfortunately fallen through the ice into a pond not far from the road.  We watched it struggling in a life or death fashion to try to free itself by climbing out of the partially frozen pond.  We could hear it gasping for breathe with each attempt … so did the predators out there as well.


This curious coyote arrived on scene to check it out.  At one point it sat down, waiting for an easy meal, but soon must have sensed the time wasn’t right yet and retreated.


I photographed that poor bison for hours, praying beyond hope that it would emerge victorious.  Tom sensed my sadness and though he was stronger, I’m sure he felt sad as well.  He didn’t want to go back the next morning (poor guy didn’t want to deal with me upset yet another day), but I had to have closure.  Again I prayed that it would be successfully freed.  Worst yet, I feared that it might be still struggling.  Sadly, it had perished during the night and a coyote was doing its best to begin to feast upon it.  Such is nature’s way and the circle of life.  It’s a tough life out there for wildlife … for that matter for all of us.  It was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever witnessed and it still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.


After that, I look at the bison differently … I know that sounds weird, but I do.

We encountered some younger bison learning how to jostle each other.  It’s all fun and games now, but one day it will be more about that status and superiority.


These bison learn from a young age how to alleviate the many insect pests that congregate near their faces and in their fur.  A swift roll about on the dusty landscape is just what this bison’s doctor ordered.  LOL

20150313-DSC_6667 20150313-DSC_6682

We did see wolf, but the sightings were mostly from afar.  The howling of the wolves was prevalent quite often and two of the packs intermingled at one point and were a cause for concern amongst the wolf-watchers.

Coyote sightings, a lone coyote each time, were pretty common as well and always entertaining as they scrounged around looking for a quick and easy meal.


We were very fortunate that our days in the park, though a bit chilly, were quite sunny and beautiful.  The eastern entrance of the park, towards Cooke City was quite snowy also, so it did intermittently remind you that it was winter.


Our last wildlife sighting while in Yellowstone was on our last evening.  To our surprise, a bull elk was grazing all by itself under the canopy of the trees.  Even more surprising was that it still had its antlers … and a fine rack at that.   Go figure.  With that sun setting and that gorgeous golden light being cast upon the landscape as it did, it was the perfect way to end our day … as well as our winter Yellowstone NP trip.


Well, until next visit to Yellowstone we said our goodbyes.  Who knows what the next visit will bring ???  Now, off for some snowboarding and skiing!

Next up:  Antelope Island State Park

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography


Bighorn Ram Encounter @ Yellowstone NP


Seems like every year I get the urge … or should I say, feel the necessity … to travel out to Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP.  2015 was no different and so we planned a trip out there, which we coupled with some family time snowboarding/skiing in the nearby vicinity.  Being that it was still winter out there, or so we thought, I originally had plans to rent out a small snow coach for the day.  The very mild winter of 2014-2015 changed those plans as snow coach touring and snowmobiling season ended up closing very early.  Quick … we need to execute Plan B.  So we made reservations in Gardiner, just outside of the parks iconic entrance arch in Yellowstone NP.  That road stays open year-round, as residents use it for travel to and from Cooke City.  It wasn’t long before we spotted our first wildlife – a beautiful pronghorn antelope.


We expected to see them, along with lots of bison, elk, and mule deer.  What we didn’t expect to see as readily was the bighorn sheep.  As a matter of fact, I had never (believe it or not) seen bighorn sheep within the park boundaries!  So I was a bit thrilled.  I usually associate these fabulous rams when I make my way into Rocky Mountain NP.


It wasn’t just a fluke sighting either … we found a gathering of several dozen rams.


Though not many tourists come to Yellowstone during the winter months, even a mild one, we still didn’t want to start a “ram jam”, so we parked down the road and hiked in to where they were … paying particular attention to not encroach on their territory or break any distance regulations.


Everything was going great until that moment … when the “big guy” came around a corner unexpectantly.  I backed up a bit and turned to assess the situation … snow and ice covered landscape and a rocky ledge behind me.  I managed to back out and put distance back between us.


While the other rams of various ages and hierarchy continued to feed, this guy almost seemed to serve as the sentinel … you know, the lookout for trouble in the area.


As they grazed in the grasses, they would occasionally look up and give me that “Vogue” look.  :-)


I was impressed with their majestic look as they stood proudly, making their way within the group.  It was amazing to see the differences in their horns … or their curls.  You can see the signs of wear & tear on the senior guys and I couldn’t help but wonder about their story … what events they had been through for those “scars”.


Being that it was late winter, they still had such nice coats and they were quite amicable with each other.  That will change as the year progresses towards the eventual rut season, when they will fight for hierarchy and that important status within the harem of females.


It was so beautiful as they laid down on the landscape and stared off into the distance … with the bushes near then and trees, mountains, and snow off in the distance.

20150311-DSC_5928 20150311-DSC_5939

Yes, it was fascinating to watch and yes, I felt truly honored to be in their presence and thrilled with the naturalness in their behavior as I clicked away.  :-)


Wish I could click my heels and be back there right now.  Rest assured though, we’ll be back and ready for more.


Of course, there’s more to Yellowstone NP that the pronghorn and bighorn sheep, so stay tuned for the next post with more wildlife, sights, and stories.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

A Sunday Drive (or it might have been Saturday … who knows) :-)


Springtime in Florida has many advantages … especially when it comes to the weather.  Sure it’s hotter than most in other areas of the country, but it sure feels good to those of us who know too well the heat and humidity that is to come.

Every so often, Tom & I take a day drive to another area to see what we can find.  For me, it’s about photography, for him, it might be more about just getting around to see new stuff.  On this day, we were immediately greeted by this lovely Eastern Meadowlark … just singing away his welcome song.  :-)


Low and behold we also ran into another whooping crane … though this one is a Florida resident.  Here it is hanging out with a few local cows.


As I observed it, I noticed that it seemed quite attached to one particular cow.  Eventually, as the visiting sandhill cranes came around that particular cow, it got quite possessive and appeared to charge the cranes.

20150216-DSC_0304 20150216-DSC_0302

Wild turkeys were also present along the side of the highway grazing in the grasses.


Always a joy to watch soaring overhead are the Crested Caracara.  On this day, there was a pair catching some thermals, along with some of the black vultures.


One of the most entertaining series of images was this wood stork trying to swallow a fillet of fish.  Try as it may, it wasn’t going down easy.


It would repeatedly try to swallow it, then spit it out, re-grab and re-position it, and attempt to eat it all over again …


… repeatedly ….


After observing it for about 20 minutes, and it was struggling, we decided that it might not happen while we waited, so off we went.


Let’s go check on a bald eagle nest that I’ve heard about also.  Seems like the young eaglet is in the nest and beginning to flap its wings a bit, though certainly not ready to fly.


It simply sits at the nest waiting for one of its parents to fly in with some food for it to eat.


Always a highlight each spring is the sighting of my first swallow-tailed kit.  Such a symbol to me of what Florida stands for … I have never understood why it or the Florida Scrub Jay weren’t selected as our state bird … I mean, a northern mockingbird, really … what were they thinking?

20150302-DSC_5426 20150302-DSC_5438

Well, I guess it could have been this … :-)  Found a bunch of these running around on that drive too.


Such is the life on a weekend drive in Florida during the spring.  Hope that you enjoyed.

Stay tuned … next, we head outside of the state line … all of the way to MT, WY, and UT!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

The Lucky Getaway Weekend


Sometimes it’s nice to get away … to see something or do something different … and that’s how this weekend started.  We decided to venture up to northern Florida and meet up with my daughter and son-in-law.  Of course, I did my research before I left and knew that the sandhill cranes were migrating through in numbers and hoped that they would be keeping company with another less frequent, but much loved, visitor.

So off I went in search of the sandhill cranes and sure enough … there he was … Whooping crane #9-13.  At this time, he was a 21-month old male on migration from WI.  Whooping cranes, Grus Americana, are an icon for endangered species everywhere and one of only 2 cranes that call North America home.  As recently as the1940s, there were only ~15 in existence!  Their decline in numbers were a result of habitat loss and over-hunting.  In 1967, they were placed on the Endangered Species list and through the work of many, including Operation Migration, they are making progress!


This guy made his 2nd trip down to Florida and was hanging out amongst his cousin sandhill cranes in Alachua County.


Their diet consists of plants, seeds, grains, small fish, frogs, snakes, and insects.


Operation Migration assists in the migratory process of the cranes first migration and the banding of them with transmitters to track their whereabouts.  Each crane adorns its own branding of “jewelry” which provide that identification.


Probably my favorite image I got while visiting up there was this one.  Reminds me of “hanging out with the gang at the water cooler”.  :-)


It’s quite remarkable how well they get along with the sandhill cranes.


Most times that I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph whooping cranes, they have been from an incredibly far distance, with the Florida heat radiating in waves from the hot earth.  This sighting was different … so close I could have a conversation with it  (who knows … maybe I did … LOL).

20150215-DSC_9825 20150215-DSC_9818

Whooping cranes are the largest birds in North America and quite a bit bigger than their sandhill crane cousins.  They stand about 5′ tall, with a wingspan of greater than 7′, while the sandhills stand about 4′ tall.


This was my buddy who I met while photographing the cranes.  He/she carried on quite a conversation of their own with me.  ~ MOOOOOO ~

After doing some chores up in the area, we set off for another favorite location of mine … Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, just outside of Gainesville.  Usually we head out, walk the trails, see many species of birds, some snakes, lots of alligators, and maybe get a peek at distant horses or a bison or two.

On this day though, out of seemingly nowhere, we encountered a lone bison who was determined to share the trail with us.  :-)


Being how it was too late to back out, we decided to respectfully stay put and let him show us which direction he wanted to venture in.  Of course, I was at that point thankful that I was carrying the landscape lens, as this was no situation for a long lens.  In the image below, if Tom were to have tried to retreat, he would have gone into the alligator-infested waters (oh my!).  LOL.


After being quite indecisive about where the bison wanted to go, it finally decided that it would pass us, but not before we alerted other unsuspecting hikers heading its way.  They were sure glad that we did too.


Grazing along the way … we finally parted ways.


At that point, we decided to leave before it decided to come back in our direction.  Tom, aka “eagle eyes” spotted a lovely Wilson’s snipe resting in the wetlands along the trail.  Gosh, they are so beautiful.


As we approached the sinkhole, we also came across a wonderful tri-colored heron just beginning to come into its colors.  All in all, it was a great getaway weekend and well worth the trip.  It’s not often that you can spend the morning with whooping cranes and in the afternoon share the trail with a bison … in Florida!  :-)


Note:  For anyone that might be wondering … Whooping crane #9-13 completed his return migration to the north on April 22 (appropriately Earth Day) … another successful migration!  Yay!

Stay tuned for more “time away from home” in Florida.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

#FindYourPark … Everglades-style


In 2016, the National Park Service will be celebrating its centennial birthday!  Leading up to that event, they have launched a “Find Your Park” campaign, where visitors tell stories about “their” park.  Recently I launched a 9-day series of #FindYourPark images and stories on my flickr page (if you haven’t seen it yet and are interested, click on the flickr link, scan down several weeks of images, and give it a look).  I found it difficult to designate “my park” … should it be the one I visit most often, the one my soul calls to the most, the one I find most beautiful, or perhaps the one geographically closest?

Geographically, “my park” would then be Everglades National Park.  :-)  Now the Everglades NP is an amazing place to visit, has so much beauty to explore, and holds such an environmental significance to Florida and worldwide as well.  So, let’s visit there virtually together in this blog post.  Ready?

Now this is what I’m talking about … pure iconic Everglades … an early morning sunrise often is accompanied by mist and low profile fog … so very beautiful.  Water levels change drastically depending on the season and recent rainfall in the Everglades.  The Everglades represents such change that you can only be guaranteed that each day will have a look all its own – very different than the day before or even the day after.  It’s totally amazing!


Having grown up in South Florida and visiting the Everglades more that I can easily count, on one recent very foggy morning, I was treated to a new phenomenon for me … a fog bow.  Similar to a rainbow, but it lacks color, due to the small size of the water droplets, it was fabulous to see.  Immediately I pulled off the road to try to document what I saw.  Have to say that it was a fairly close rendition of the moment.  :-)


Being that these images were from February, much of the wildlife encountered revolved around the birds.  See, the Everglades are an important part of many species of birds and their migratory paths.  I joke too because once the warmer weather comes, as well as the skeeters, even the birds don’t want to hang around (OK, they probably leave for other reasons ;-), and good thing because you’ve got to really want to hang out in the heat and humidity and get totally bit up to come in the height of the summer).


Roseate spoonbills arrive to various ponds and waters to do some feeding and begin looking for their mate.  About this time, they begin to get those fabulous breeding colors that make them irresistible to all who catch a glimpse of them.  So bizarre looking for sure, but gorgeous!


The pileated woodpeckers are just one of the birds which call the area their local hangout.


Most times they’re quite cooperative, but eventually they launch for destinations unknown.


Of course, the Flamingo area of the Everglades most dominant resident bird is the osprey. In the winter they build their nests, mate, sit on their eggs, and eventually raise their young.  It’s always fascinating to watch dad bring in a fresh catch for mom as she tends to the nest.  Yum!


Black necked stilts, as in the image below, as well as avocets and yellowlegs, etc, also join in on the fun at Eco Pond.


Red shouldered hawks are seemingly plentiful as well.  Sometimes you see them … sometimes you don’t … until off they fly with a quick launch.  So very beautiful.  American kestrels and northern harriers often make themselves visible as well.


Probably one of the most animated of all birds to visit is the reddish egret.  They always make a grand entrance as they fly low just above the waters surface, allowing their reflection to be seen.  They fly with such grace and beauty … such sophistication.  But don’t let that fool you, for they look more like drunken sailors as they run around doing silly antics as they fish for food.  I dare you to watch them for more than 5 minutes without getting a huge grin on your face, or if you’re like me … busting out in laughter.


While the Everglades always has its fair share of brown pelicans, they also get white pelicans too.  Again, they also have quite the splashdown landing, which commands your attention when they fly in.


I’m continually amazed at how they go about catching their food.  They seemingly eye it with their heads on a sideways angle, then slam their head and beak into the water and go for it!  You know that they’ve hit pay dirt when they then sit up and swallow.  So fascinating to watch.


Probably one of my favorite wading birds are the lovely and delicate-looking black-necked stilts.  So very beautiful and skilled at catching the tiniest of minnows, they get quite beautiful this time of year with those bright legs and big red eye.  Soon they will begin their courtship and mating.


Before long the osprey babies get big enough to make their presence known.  Not only do they offer the photographer a nice glimpse at their big orange eyes, but they also sure learn quick how to scream at dad to bring them some dinner.  :-)


Yes, the landscapes of the Everglades are iconic and second to none.  Case in point it this view of what’s affectionately known as the “Z” tree.  Nature is quite amazing, don’t you agree?


Now no trip to the Everglades is ever complete, at least not for Tom & I, without a stop at the famous “Robert’s” on your way out.  The best key lime milkshakes in town (as well as many other exotic flavors) and much more for the tourists.  For me, I always appreciate it when they grow the sunflowers along the roadside … which is Florida-unique when coupled with the palm trees in the background!


Hope that gave you an idea about Everglades NP.  That being said, take a moment to ponder and ask yourself … where is your park? … then participate in the #FindYourPark movement in celebration of the NPS.

Stay tuned for more …

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

If You Build It…They Will Come :-)


I think that in 2012, Tom build 2 owl boxes for me and we placed them strategically in our backyard … not too far from our giant mango tree and as far from our house as logistically possible, trying to provide an optimal location for owls or anything else that might want to occupy it.  Twice in the next year and one-half, we had honey bees call it home, which was a thrill in itself, seeing how they are so threatened.  Both times we called a local beekeeper who gladly came by to take down the boxes and harvest the honey and preserve the colony.  Quite interesting to watch, as there’s quite the science behind the entire process.  Felt good about it too.  :-)  Though we had built the boxes to attract owls, we hadn’t had any takers yet.

That all changed in January 2014.  Tom was away on a snowboarding trip and I was bringing the recycles and trash out to the alley behind our house.  As I returned to the deck out back, I sensed I was being watched.  For some strange reason, I took a look at the owl boxes…. nothing in the first one … and I didn’t think anything in the 2nd either.  But for some strange reason, I went in and grabbed the binoculars just to be sure.  Well, to my amazement, as I peered, I saw a set of big eyes looking back at me … OWL eyes.


I might as well have seen a ghost, as I was SO excited and I checked my judgement to be sure I was seeing, what I was seeing.  You get the picture, right?


I wasn’t crazy and within 2 days, I noticed that we had 2 owls, eastern screech owls to be exact, each occupying one of the owl boxes.  For the next 4 months, we observed them daily.  The female was a gorgeous red morph, while the male was gray.  Both were pure eye candy to me and I felt like an “owl whisperer” before long.  LOL.   One day, we were curious about their behavior, as the dad seemed to be the only one leaving the box for any extended period of time.  So, we bought a painters pole and attached a HD Contour (like a Go Pro) with a red lens covering a tiny light.  To our surprise, there were 3 tiny owlets inside!  (OK, this is not a great shot, but the best I could do from the video)


We would find the female taking breaks in the mango tree, more frequently as the trio grew in size.

20140412-_DSC3302 20140412-_DSC3303

One day, we noticed that the owlets were no longer in the box and sure enough, we found 2 of them far up in the tree.  Looking down at us I delighted in knowing that they were now big enough to fledge, at least from the box.  It was our first time seeing each other too!


Soon they were gone from our tree, but neighbors reported seeing at least 3-4 of the owls in their yards and on their power lines at dusk and early evenings.  Once in June, I actually heard them calling out and I reasoned that they were telling me that they were fine and still around.  :-)

In late December 2014, we began hearing them calling out at night … more and more.  Before long we noticed the female returned and we got excited with the thought that we would have our guests back … and hopefully some babies again.


We’re all but positive that they mated and the male was spotted with the female for another 4-6 weeks.


Their behavior was quite predictable, as they would emerge from the box when the sun went down and would stand out on the perch that Tom built for them.  In March, we left for a trip out west for some winter recreation and photography with my daughter and son-in-law.


When we returned, they were both gone.  It was so sad for us, as we had the highest of hopes for a repeat experience.  It is my hope that they nested somewhere else, hopefully in the near vicinity, and had a successful brood.  I will never forget them and hope to see them again.  It might be hard to understand, but I felt so connected with them, as I do other species of owls … especially the burrowing owls that Im fortunate to be able to follow annually.  Yes, besides bears, owls hold a special place in my heart.  <3


Stay tuned for more south Florida sightings!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy

Our Last Denali Day


So on our final day in Denali NP for 2014, what did we wake up to?  You guessed it … another bluebird day.  :-)  After a restful morning (the only one on our entire trip – LOL), we set out to “troll” again for wildlife and try our luck at Savage River.  As you can see the fall colors were already beginning to pass, though still evident and colorful, their vibrant peak of explosive color was already a thing of the past.


Savage River is a wonderful place for taking a leisurely hike around the Savage Loop Trail along the river, as it meanders its way.  The cold fresh air, the sounds of the water rushing by and the birds calling out overhead, and those clear beautiful skies made for the perfect day to end with in our week long stay at Denali.


It’s just so picturesque.  Knowing that this would be more of a landscape walk-about, I carried my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens mounted on my D800 camera body.  Tom outfitted himself with his 70-200mm f/2.8 lens onto his D7000 … just in case we encountered wildlife.  See, in years past, we’ve gotten amazing shots of the marmot sunning themselves on the rocks along the trail.  So, we were really scouting hard to find some.  Unfortunately, we never did find any and admittedly, I felt a bit dejected.  :-(  But I reminded myself that we had an amazing stay in Denali already and certainly in Alaska as well.


At some point, I saw a photographer shooting something on the hillside.  Of course, I had to know what it was.  Armed with a pair of binoculars, Tom was still unable to ascertain what it was.  Perhaps he was just shooting the landscape, but he had a longer lens.  Curiosity got the best of me and I inquired with another person who had spotted him as well.  To my surprise, he said that there was … wait for it … a LYNX!  I surge of excitement ran through my body as I set off uphill with my … wait for it … 24-70mm lens.  Sweet!  Quickly I realized that I had like… no chance … so I commandeered Tom’s 70-200mm and pursued that lynx.  :-)


OK, now I’ll admit that this are not the stellar shots that I was hoping for, but I’ll take them!


This lynx was intent on observing something … perhaps even more intent than we were on observing the lynx.  LOL  We photographed it for quite some time … just 3 of us … and I was thrilled beyond belief.


Finally, the lynx got up and began to retreat from us, but not before giving us that “vogue” look.  It reminded me of the first lynx that I ever tried to photograph … only that time I missed for 2 reasons:  1. Our shuttle windows were frozen shut and therefore we couldn’t get the windows down.  2.  Once our windows finally were successfully lowered and the lynx gave me that same “vogue” look over the shoulder, I clicked and my shutter, only to realize that I had the shutter speed set to “bulb” from trying to photograph the aurora the night before.  Ugh … don’t you just hate when you’re not prepared?


I vowed to never make that mistake again … you know, heading out without a wildlife lens … just in case!  After encountering and photographing this lynx though, I felt on top of the world again.  See, the lynx was seldom seen in Denali in 2014, since the snowshoe hare have declined in numbers lately, as they run in 7 year cycles in their plentiful numbers – just as the lynx do.  Nature at work again.


So short of the marmot, our wildlife sightings this year were amazing and plentiful.  As we headed to return to the RV, we’re once again treated to this expansive sight.


The colors have finally arrived towards the lower elevations of the park … aka the first few miles within the park boundaries.

DSC_9464 DSC_2498

Before we leave Denali NP, we opt to take one last hike in the Riley Creek area.  The trees are showing off beautifully against the skies covered in patchy clouds.


No trip to Alaska, or just about anywhere away from home, is ever complete without our trademark cairn building and an image of our creation.  Built out of river rocks along the Riley Creek waters, Tom and build our cairn … one rock at a time … each representing a year that we’ve been together … united by our love for each other and for nature and the outdoors.  17 rocks in all … & counting  <3

DSC_9487Here’s to 2015!

© 2014  TNWA Photography


It Just Keeps Getting Better (Denali NP-Part 3)


Well, it’s another day in paradise for sure … as we’re greeted to an amazing bluebird day!  Nothing like viewing Mt. McKinley (aka Denali) from such a distance away and seeing it without being shrouded in the clouds.


Of course that was the telephoto view, while the below image was the “eye’s view” taken with a traditional landscape lens near the Mountain Vista Trailhead parking lot.  Either way, the beauty is apparent.


New to us in 2014 was the Savage Alpine Trail, which was conveniently located adjacent to the Mountain Vista Trailhead parking lot, near the Savage River Campground.  We decided to give it a shot.  I was immediately pleased when I came across a sign warning of bear activity in the area.  I remember thinking that this was going to be a great hike!


Designated trails in Denali NP are a rare sight to see, as most of this vast wilderness makes only for its own DIY (Do It Yourself) trails.  In the past, one could hike here, but being that it ventured close to the moose rut closure in the fall, it wasn’t generally accessed frequently.  In the beginning of the trail, some boards were used to designate the trail and keep it in good condition.  It was so beautiful as we made our way about 1/4 up the mountain.


About 1/3 of the way up, we were treated to views like this.  Oh yeah!


Before long, the views behind us, actually all around us were increasingly spectacular with our climbing elevation.


Upon reaching near the summit of the climb, Tom took in the view from all around.


It was one of the most breathtaking views … I’m talking 360 degrees … I’ve ever witnessed.  Didn’t matter which way you looked.  I didn’t ever want to leave as I tried desperately to soak it all in … essentially trying to imprint it into my soul … to draw upon in future days when I would once again long for this solitude and immense beauty.


But alas, we eventually had to descend … happily the beauty remained all around us.


And when the mountain views had eluded us, we still had running creek waters to call upon our senses, as the water made its way down the mountain.


In the finale, we were treated to a beautiful gravel path back down to the park road and our RV waiting for us.


We never see those bears that were “frequenting the area” :-(, but we were treated some wildlife sightings, mainly birds, such as this lovely grouse seen almost immediately as it scurried off the path in front of us as we explored.  :-)


Every day and night, we would “troll” those first 15 miles of accessible park road for any wildlife that might be in the area.  Usually it was a moose on the loose, but many have  seen wolf, lynx, bear, porcupine, a variety of squirrels, and other sightings.


On this evening we made our way back to Savage River to try our chance at finding a bear, lynx, dall sheep, wolf, or whatever might be passing through the area, but only moose were found.  Hard to beat the scene though as the sun began to set on the landscape.

DSC_9426 DSC_9428

Then when we turned around to leave for the night, I saw this amazing moon beginning to rise on the landscape.  Being that it was still low, it looked amazingly big … and definitely beautiful.  “Pull the RV over right now”, which was a request usually reserved for wildlife sightings – LOL.


After a few shots, Tom thought that I was done, but no … for I knew that the light would be changing again and that the image might become more interesting and beautiful.  As we were waiting for the moon to continue to rise and the colors to emerge, we were entertained by this cute little guy … flying into our RV grill … in search of bugs!  We watched as he repeatedly fly in and out.  It was quite interesting and most definitely entertaining to watch.


Sure enough, the colors began to pop and all I could think was that this was the perfect ending to a perfect day!


We did however have another day waiting for us to explore the wonders of Denali.  I did a mental checklist of the Big 5 … all sightings were accomplished of the moose, bear, caribou, dall sheep, and the wolf.  Denali in its full glory was also accomplished (30% club inductees once again – even better since we viewed it without a hint of a cloud).  Lots of bird sightings … variety of smaller animals … But I was missing a lynx  ;-).  I was still pleased with my luck so far, as lynx sightings in 2014 were scarce due to the decline of the snowshoe hares in the park … a favorite food of the lynx.


Stay tuned for the remaining stories and images from Denali NP.

© 2014 TNWA Photography

Another Day … Another Experience


What a difference a day makes!  Even though it has barely been 24 hours, most of the snowfall from 36 hrs ago has melted on the lower elevations and you could almost watch as it began to disappear from the landscape.  Luckily, those magnificent clouds and fall landscape colors remained.  :-)


When I say that the landscape was bright, I mean it.  It seems as though I almost needed sunglasses to effectively mute some of the colors erupting.  The reds, oranges, yellows, greens, and even tones of blues … all unmistakeable and truly god’s work of beauty.  We felt quite honored to be a part of witnessing this display, as it quickly arrives and just as quickly fades into the muted shades of winter’s landscape.


Once again, the cow moose were plentiful and roaming amongst the willows, as they dined freely.

_DSC5382 _DSC5436

As much variety of wildlife that we were treated to the first day, we seemed to hit a bit of a dry spell the next.  Except of course, for the wolf pup sightings!  My friend, Rebecca, told us of her various frequent sightings of the pups, but we hadn’t seen any yet and were quite bummed to say the least.  However, on this day, it was alas, our chance.


Not the most amazing images I’ve even taken, but the experience was quite rich indeed.  This little one paced the road in front of us for quite some time to the delight of everyone on our shuttle.  Once in a while, it did turn around and give us a “vogue shot”, but for the most part we were treated to its backside.  LOL


The grizzly bears of course were out and about as always, though I think that I had heard that earlier in the year, the bear sightings were harder to come by.  Funny how timing is everything, as they say.


Berries are “what’s for dinner?” for these guys at this time of year.  They ingest incredible amounts of berries to provide them the much needed last minute gorging that will serve them well through their early winter and hibernation period.  Having the proper nutrition is mandatory for those sows who will bear cubs during their hibernation.  In fact, if they don’t have the proper nutritional (fat) stores when they den, they may not even produce their young!


If you ever get the chance to travel and visit Denali NP, don’t miss out on a visit to the Eielson Visitor Center, some 70 miles or so into the park.  From there, many amazing vistas await you, as well as several wonderful hikes (of varying endurance levels), which are quite rewarding.  Of course, in 2014, the hikes were either closed due to the high winds or the presence of bears, who also use the trails.  Guess they appreciate the views as well.  LOL.  In the image below, note the hikers below and appreciate the scale of vastness of this incredible landscape.  Also, note that there are very few trails designated in the park … it’s mostly a “DIY” system … that is, Do It Yourself!  :-)


This sow and her cub cruise the hillside, finding berries where they can.  It’s fascinating to me how quickly these cubs learn from their moms about survival, even though the sow will continue to nurse the cub while they’re still cared for by her.


Just look at that CUTENESS!!!


Yes, we were treated to lots of bears in Denali this year and many of them were quite photo-worthy … and not a major stretch for the lens.  ;-)

_DSC5770 Of course, there’s more to Denali than the 88-mile stretch of park road.  Lots of opportunities abound to get out and explore on your own and of course, we did just that.  More to come, so check back often and stay tuned!

© 2014 TNWA Photography


I Didn’t Forget About Denali NP (Who Could?)


How do you know when you’re going to have a great time in Denali National Park?  Of course … when your first image goes something like this … how can you miss!  Denali is always an amazing place, but when you combine the beauty of the Denali wildlife & wilderness with the arrival of the fall colors and add a dash of sensing the beginning of the moose rut, this is what you get.


Of course, on our first day in Denali NP, we were also greeted by the feeling of the arrival of winter as well!


Now some visitors might have been quite bummed to have this greeting waiting for them, but when you reside in the heat and humidity, you tend to be quite excited!  SNOW! … and lots of it!  (Thanks to Rebecca Tifft for snapping this image of Tom & I for us)


Denali NP is unique in that one can only explore the first 15 miles in their own vehicle.  After reaching Savage River, one can only travel to the interior of the park on a bus … whether it be an interpretive one or simply a shuttle bus.  But that doesn’t mean that awesome views and wildlife can’t be found in those first 15 miles.  The clouds in the skies provided for amazing landscapes.

DSC_8920 DSC_8961

Shortly after Savage River, one starts to look for caribou, amongst other wildlife.  In the late summer/early fall, the bulls may still have their velvet covered antlers or the velvet may have already been shed, leaving their antlers to be quite bloody looking.


Bears are also quite often seen right outside your shuttle window.  This particular one was walking along the braided river and eventually entered the river to cross it.  Funny … if you look closely, it seems as those this one has white nails.  Apparently, they can have a variety of claw colors, though I found this one quite unusual.  LOL


Sometimes, they are quite far away.  However, the sight of observing this sow and her 2 cubs, as they travelled across the snow covered landscape was pleasing to me.  Gives the viewer a sense of the vastness of the land … as well as the harshness of the winter-like conditions that they and the other wildlife endure.


It wasn’t our first snowfall experienced in Denali, in fact once we had snowfall in July!  You just can’t predict the weather in Alaska … especially in Denali.  What you can predict is that you’ll be treated to some of the best wildlife viewing in the US.  When you get to see the animals in the midst of the snow-covered landscape, you’ll also know that you hit the jackpot!


The landscape itself looks so dramatically different in the snow too, whether dusted with a thin cover of snow or dumped upon, it’s all quite breathtaking.


The iconic view from Stony Hill Overlook is quite different in the snow, but still remarkable.  Now that I think about though … it’s always different no matter what time you visit.  Sometimes you get full mountain (Mt McKinley, aka Denali), which we did on several days while we were there, sometimes you get no view at all, and sometimes you get this partial view.


And the viewing of Denali constantly changes throughout the day, so you can never give up on trying your luck (except of course when it’s dumping snow relentlessly, as it was on our first evening in the park).  :-)


Unique images of the wildlife, desperate to continue to get their fill of nutrition before this unanticipated snow storm becomes an expected daily event, make for amazing photo opportunities.

_DSC4366 _DSC4533

Photo ops … it’s not just for the bears … as this adorable red fox entertains us with its own “vogue” looks as well.


In the early evening, the snow cover from the night before had already began to melt, thanks to the clear skies which usually follow the snow’s nasty skies.  More bull caribou are encountered dining on the autumn-kissed tundra.  Below is actually a great example of how the bulls might have their velvet (on left), or may have previously shed their velvet already (on right).  Like most things in nature, everything progresses at its own pace.  The females which are pregnant later in the season will keep her antlers, while the other females as well as the bulls, will eventually shed them after the mating season.


The moose rut usually takes place later in September or early October, so lots of bull moose begin to arrive near the front of the park (i.e. those first 15 miles) about this time and begin to jockey for superiority and the sweetest females.  :-)


Often at this time the females will hang out with other females.  Sometimes they are followed closely by a bull that might be in pursuit.  The bulls are quite patient and wait until the time is right.

_DSC2068 _DSC4994

Of course, the sunsets of Denali NP are also a sought after image, though I find myself torn between pursuing wildlife images OR the landscapes … Decisions, Decisions, Decisions … and a nice “problem” to have.  Wouldn’t you agree?


Stay tuned:  More to come from Denali NP and its grandeur.  I promise, I won’t make anyone wait that long either.  :-)

© 2014  TNWA Photography


“Sail Away” With Me


In the last blog post, “Who’s Afraid of the Denali Highway?”, I shared our experience crossing the Denali Highway for the first time.  It was quite exciting, but before we crossed we arrived in Paxson and drove to the first pull off to get our bearings and grab a quick bite in the RV.  It was the evening of our 6th wedding anniversary and I began to think about 7 years ago when we witnessed the aurora for the first time.  The “highway” was going to be quite secluded from any city lights.  I ran outside to assess whether or not we had a chance to repeat our luck.  The sky was beautiful, but heavily scattered with wispy clouds.  Normally, I would be tickled pink, but I was hoping for clear skies.  We proceeded to fix dinner and got to sleep a bit earlier than normal … setting the alarm for 11:30 pm.


When the alarm rang, I got dressed for the cold and the wind, which I could hear howling outside.  Is everything ready?  Camera with proper night shooting settings? Tripod set up? Remote shutter connected?  Fresh memory card?  Fresh battery?  Proper wide angle lens attached?  All systems seemed like … GO.  The stars were brightly lit and that’s when I realized that the skies had indeed cleared.  Yippee!


In & out of the RV I went, trying to get warm from that wicked wind.  On one particular run outside, we saw it … the aurora, also referred to as the northern lights.  It was stretched out on the vast landscape before us.  At this point it was relatively stagnant … just fabulous light which would intensify and then retreat.


Composition … I searched my surroundings for something that I incorporate into the frame to make the shot more interesting.  OK, secret be told, this is actually a really nice outhouse in the lot that we were parked in.  LOL.  I know, quite romantic, but who cares, it was a structure and served the purpose I was looking for.  Now the light was beginning to include a hint of purple hue as well.

DSC_2406 DSC_2408

It was then that the lights began to float across the night’s dark sky.  I distinctly remember hearing the wind, feeling it against my face, and I became quite thrilled.  Yes, my senses went back to that first night on August 30th, 2007 … Chena Hot Springs – Tom & I snuggled up under multiple blankets, freezing, as we laid down on top of a picnic table and watched the northern lights as they danced across the sky.  Of course, I would run over to my tripod on occasion to try to capture the experience.


As the aurora intensified and other colors appeared, I no longer felt the cold.  All I felt was the sensory overload that I was experiencing and the endorphins or whatever flowing through my body … touching my soul like only the aurora can.


In some cultures, witnessing the aurora is considered to be one of the most prized events in their lifetime.  Some say that the experience bestows good relationships and fortune on its lucky observers.  We never expected to see it the first time we did, so it was quite the pleasant surprise.  It totally moved us spiritually, as the lights fell like curtains dancing in the wind.


At this point, I thought it was dwindling and I figured that I would be satisfied with what I had already witnessed.  I retreated into the RV and put my PJs on for the night.  Before I got under the covers, I took one my shot at the night skies.  This is what I saw … and all bets were off … in my bare feet and PJs (I’m talking single layered), I ran out with my tripod in hand and began shooting in awe again.  In actuality, it was even colder than before, but it didn’t matter.


Point is, I didn’t even feel it.  Tom stayed inside for a bit, then finally joined me, with proper clothing on, of course.  Oh, and he offered me my jacket.  Always the sherpa.  <3


On August 30, 2008, we got married in Chena Hot Springs in honor of our 1st aurora experience.  Seemed appropriate that we would once again see them on August 30th, some 6 years later.  Sort of like renewing our vows.  :-)  Each year, on our anniversary, we go out into nature and present each other with a gift from nature.  I don’t think we could have asked for a better one.


Reminds me of the David Gray song “Sail Away”.

Lyrics:                                                                                                                                           “Crazy skies all wild above me now
Winter howling at my face
And everything I held so dear
Disappeared without a trace”

I’m sure that wasn’t the actual meaning of the lyrics, but it was to us.  I couldn’t say anything better to describe the experience.  You totally get lost in the experience.  I still get all emotional when I hear that song … ask Tom.  LOL

Coming Up:  A Week in Denali National Park.  Stay tuned.  :-)

© 2014 TNWA Photography






Who’s Afraid of the Denali Highway?


Each year that we travel to Alaska, we always make sure that we experience something NEW … something that we hadn’t tried before … somewhere that we hadn’t been before … or something that we haven’t photographed before.  In 2014, one of our NEWs was traveling across the Denali Highway – from Paxson to Cantwell … all 135 miles of it!


Though this was already our 8th trip to Alaska, it was of course, our 1st across this infamous stretch of lonely road.  Why?, you might wonder.  A few responses come to mind, such as “the more travelled Glenn Highway is wonderful as well”, “the road is too slow for our pace”, “what if we got a flat(s) along the way?”, and being a relatively un-maintained road, “how bad is the road really?”.  The road had a reputation of being primarily washboard like and extremely dusty.  Caution went to the wind and onward we drove.  Well we began on our journey early one morning and we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by almost 24 miles of paved road right off the bat!  The scenery along the way, on this mostly clear day, was unmatched as well.  Like the Glenn Highway, it was breathtaking views, but it all felt so much closer on the Denali, as it climbed steeply up the foothills of the central Alaskan Range.

_DSC1939-2 _DSC3972

OK, maybe not that close … but you get the idea.  :-)

DSC_8800 DSC_8823

Everywhere you looked, there were jaw-dropping views.  We found ourselves experiencing “shock & awe”  Awed by all of the beauty and quite honestly shocked that we had never traveled this way before.  Of particular beauty was the area around Triple Lakes … gosh how I wished I could own that cabin!  LOL


At precisely MM 21.3, was where the paved road ended and the gravel road began.  We both paused for a moment – yes, to take the image, but also to vow to each other that no matter what happened, we were in it together and wouldn’t place any blame on each other.  LOL.  We were going full steam ahead in our rented 28′ RV (which wasn’t restricted from the “highway”, but rather not encouraged, with warnings to proceed with caution).  Heck, we figured it couldn’t be worse than the year that we drove a slightly larger RV over Hatcher Pass … not a good idea for anyone wondering about that trip.


Various lakes and kettle ponds dotted the road and the views continued to wow us.


We even got to shoot some hawks along the way.  The wildlife however was otherwise non-existent … but who could blame them for hiding, since it was an active hunting season.  Sort of bummed about that.


Views of Mt. Deborah, Mt. Hayes, Mt. Hess, as well as the overall Wrangell Mountains, Chugach Mountains, and the Alaskan Range were offered up along the way.  At the Mcclaren Summit, the road reaches a height of 4086′, which earns it the 2nd highest road in AK.  The area also serves as a drainage for the Cooper River, Tanana/Yukon River, and the Susitna River.


In the distance, you can see the Maclaren Glacier and the Maclaren River, with the mountains looming even further in the distance.


We found it really difficult to make our way across the highway on our adventure, as we couldn’t have pictured it nicer and so far, pretty uneventful as far as the road was concerned.


All that we were missing was the wildlife, but as I mentioned earlier, I was glad that they were all in hiding.  Though there were numerous hunters camped out, we didn’t see any of their successful conquests … thankfully.


As we neared the 2/3 marker of the highway, the weather began to get dreary and our visibility began to diminish, so we made more of an effort to simply get it done.  Gone were the promised views of Denali, but hey, it was an amazing run while it lasted.


Would we do it again?  There’s a 3-word response to that question … In A Heartbeat! It just goes to prove the point … “sometimes the road less traveled is the most amazing one”.  On a side, for those with good recall and might have been wondering, Yes, we were still talking when our tires once again hit the pavement for the final 2-3 miles.  In fact, I believe that we were closer than ever … very tired, but exhilarated at the same time.

Stay tuned for our unexpected surprise along the Denali Highway … you don’t want to miss it, I promise.  :-)

© 2015  TNWA Photography



Yes, 2014 Was A Very Good Year!


I think one of my favorite times of the year is the New Year.  For some, it’s about making BIG party plans and ringing in the new year with champagne toasts, dancing, and fireworks.  For me, it’s a much more reflective time … a time to take stock in the year’s adventures, personal achievements, challenges conquered along the way perhaps … and especially a time to look forward … to 2015!

I made a promise at the beginning of 2014 – to take the time needed to travel at least quarterly.  I wanted to experience new places, new adventures, new friends, and of course, new challenges.  I had some personal goals related to even this blog and I’m happy to say that I think that I accomplished most of them.  As usual, travel and photography went hand in hand and played a large role in my life for 2014.  I’ll try to re-cap some of it – very briefly – here.

I travel so much with Tom, aka my husband and “sherpa”, and I began to wonder if I could make it into the wilderness shooting without him.  LOL.  So, while he went off to snowboard for weeks on end, I decided to head out to Yellowstone NP in the dead of the winter (Jan) without him.  I wanted to see “what I was made of” … and to my surprise, I realized that when I needed to get it done myself, I actually could!  In addition, I made a bunch of wonderful friends as well on Daniel Cox’s Natural Exposure Invitational Photo Tour.

DSC_1663 Debbie ready for action. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming D669668 copy

For 4 months (Jan thru Apr), I had the pleasure of discovering that a pair of eastern screech owls had taken up residence in our owl boxes, but they graced us with raising 3 baby owlets as well.  I have to admit that it was a challenge, but the experience was incredible!  I’ll never forget my astonishment and joy when we peeked in, via a small “Go Pro-like” camera and saw 3 tiny furry owls, all bopping and circling their heads as owls do.  My heart melted and my love for owls immediately soared!

_DSC6821 _DSC3439


In Feb we joined my daughter and her husband for some snowboarding/skiing in UT and a bit of photography as well.  I spent a few days at Antelope Island SP capturing bison, deer,  pronghorn, eagle, coyote, porcupine, and other images.  Loved it!

_DSC7954 _DSC8107 Of course, Everglades NP is always just around the corner for us, so several trips to photograph the migratory and resident birds were part of our year.

_DSC0892-4 _DSC2671-4

Orlando Wetlands Park was a new location for me Jess was gracious enough to show it to me one day.


We also made it up to Vero Beach and Blue Cypress Lake for some osprey photography with Jess and Michael … always a pleasure.


In April, we flew out to Denver and made the circuit between Denver, Colorado Springs (Garden of the Gods), Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, Monument Valley, Moab, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Dead Horse Point SP, and eventually Rocky Mountain NP.  For part of the trip, we met up with Rodney Lange for some landscape shooting, including some night photography.  We had such a great time!

DSC_4321-2 DSC_3946-2 DSC_4430-2 DSC_4675-2

From May to June, the early mornings and early evenings were filled with burrowing owl photography, as we’re blessed with having many burrows within 30 minutes of our home.  To spend hours with the parents and their young and literally watch them grow up before our eyes is always a thrill and an honor.





Another endearing time was had in June when I almost got to witness the hatching of a newborn sandhill crane colt.  I say almost because my friends and I witnessed the cracking of the egg, the hole in the egg enlarging, but the threatening skies kept us from the “whole enchilada” as they say.  The next morning we were thrilled to photograph the newborn colt as it already toured around the wetlands with both of its parents.  Yes, I’m also a craniac for sure!  (Shout out to Monique!)



A quick trip to the Palouse was also made, since I was already in San Diego for work.  The rolling hills of the farmlands and the shadows cast during sunrise and sunset provide for variations on the landscape … always beautiful.


“The mountains are calling, so I must go” … for me that was the message I received from the Canadian Rockies.  In late June and early July, we traveled within Alberta and British Columbia to Yoho NP, Jasper NP, Banff NP, Lake Louise, Waterton Lakes NP, as well as Glacier NP in Montana.  Landscapes to die for were around every corner and amazing wildlife, as well as the company of good friends … I didn’t want to leave.

DSC_6796-2 DSC_6320-2 DSC_6934-2

Our last “big trip” was to Alaska, on our 8th trip.  It was as good as any of the others … and in some ways, even better.  From photographing the brown bears of the Russian River area, to flying out for a few days of Katmai NP bears (my personal favorites) – in the company of fellow photographer and friend Tom Blandford, to touring Valdez and kayaking the ice caves, to crossing for the first time the Denali Highway on our way to Denali NP and being treated to incredible scenery along the way during the day and the mystique of the northern lights in the darkness of the night, and finally varied conditions while staying at Denali NP, including a winter snowstorm … it was all a blast.  All that while catching up with our Alaskan friends.  :-)


DSC_8508-2 DSC_2447

_DSC2138-2 _DSC2398-2 _DSC2586-2

It seemed fitting that on Dec. 20th, I returned to the Deering Estate to photograph the winter equinox and it’s sunrise … OK, I know that was one day early, but who cares, it was fabulous either way.


So, as you can see, 2014 was an amazing year for us and one that will be hard to beat.  Of course, we’ll give it our best to do so.  As I reflect on my goals for this new year, I can assure you that 2015 will have some exciting adventures and big events as well, so stay tuned for more.


Wishing everyone a wonderful and healthy 2015, with lots of photographic opportunities either in solitude or in the presence of friends (both good), but always one with nature.  :-)


Debbie & Tom Tubridy (TNWA Photography)

Ice Caves Anyone?


Valdez, AK has a lot to offer for the outdoors enthusiast and we ventured there this year with a particular item on our “To Do” list.  While we’ve gone sea kayaking in Alaska on a few of our trips, and also ventured out on glaciers for hiking and ice climbing, there was still something related to both of those activities that we had yet to do…. ice cave exploration on kayaks.  So while we were in Valdez, we did just that.


We set out for the Valdez Glacier, aptly named as it is located near the town of Valdez.  Just a quick drive to our launch site, where before long, we were on our way on the icy waters filled with icebergs.


For this trip, I was well equipped with my gear … 2 cameras, landscape lens, telephoto lens, and trusty iPhone.  I quickly informed Tom that though we were sharing a 2-man kayak, that he should be prepared to do the lion’s share of the paddling, as I would be shooting stills and video.  :-)


We would let the others get ahead of us, so that we could stop as we needed, always being sure to keep them in sight.


As we meandered through the beautiful iceberg formations, I could help but feel myself at total peace with this place and I couldn’t wait to get to the ice caves, not really being sure of how it would be.  We passed an area where the icebergs had trapped a pool of water within it and I desperately wanted to portage into its center, though I knew that it wasn’t possible.


See, the glacial and iceberg formations are constantly changing from year to year, season to season, month to month, week to week, and even day to day.  Not to even mention what they say about the “tip of the iceberg” … and what lurks below.  It was so beautiful to even hear the ice crystal in the glacial features popping, the water dripping, the wind blowing.


When we reached our first preliminary ice cave, I was taken back by the beautiful blue ice at its center.


We were to paddle up to the formation, turn around, pose for a snapshot, and paddle out, but Tom had specific orders to pause for as long as we could so that I could take it all in.


As we approached the terminus of the glacier, I could feel my excitement mounting and I was thinking about how fortunate we were to have such beautiful weather.


Ice caves of different stages of development were seemingly everywhere.  Take a look at the amazing blue ice shining so brightly.  It was stunning to be in the midst of it all.


Below is an image of the Valdez Glacier terminus and all of those “rocks and dirt” in the foreground are actually part of the moraine of the glacier and under it all is the actual glacial ice … on top is the earth which had been deposited on it as it made it way in its advancement stage.  Of course, very few glaciers are advancing today.  It always amazes me how this type of glacier almost appears to be a big driveway into parts unknown.


We grounded our kayaks, secured them, and began our exploration of the actual glacier and some of its features found in this limited portion (think a speck on an elephant) of the Valdez Glacier.  Glacial pools were numerous, as were crevasses and moulins.  It was all so amazing.


In an attempt to provide some perspective, I chose to take an image with some of the others in it.  This is one place you don’t want to lose concentration on, as it could turn dangerous, if not deadly, real quick.


Not sure why I opted to keep my life vest on … possibly too cold … probably too lazy.  Haha!


Of course, this guy decided to forego the glacier hike part of this tour and chose to catch some zzz’s instead.  I guess he didn’t want to take chances either, as he kept his life vest on as well … possibly for comfort … probably too lazy as well.  Guess the paddling was too strenuous for him.  I wouldn’t know, as Tom became “paddler Tom” for me.  :-).  OK, I admit, I’m a bit spoiled.


After lunch and hiking, we returned to kayaking and were really treated to an amazing ice cave.  As we lined up to enter individually, I readied the gear.  After hearing the feedback from the kayaks ahead of us, I decided to take video on the way in and still images on the way out.  For the purpose of this blog, I changed the order of the images.


As we entered the cave, we first had an obstacle of melting ice water falling all around us to go through.  All I can say was C-O-L-D!  Immediately I forgot the cold and my sense took a visual turn and all that I could say was …”OMG!” … I’m talking repeatedly!  Each turn inside the cave was followed by that OMG statement and since I was sitting in the front of the kayak, I always had that momentary sneak preview before Tom could catch his glimpse.


Turn after turn, it just kept getting better.


Do I look forward, to the left, to the right, behind, or overhead?  I had sensory overload and a touch of attention deficit going on at the same time.


Natural water fountains flowed and others used it to fill up their water bottles but my hands and my mouth were way too busy to think of that while in there.


The glacial blues were all around us, along with your standard icy looking surfaces.  I didn’t want to leave.  “Keep going” I kept telling Tom.

DSC_8602 DSC_8601

DSC_8600 DSC_8607


At one point, Tom drove my head into the ice and I started to duck and I became aware that I didn’t want to tip this kayak too much … water was way too cold, of course ice was our only surrounding, and my gear couldn’t be jeopardized, as we still had another 11 days to our trip.


Though I didn’t want to leave, I knew that we had to, so we carefully back out the way we came.  I wished I knew how far that cave went, but suffice it to say, it was a good distance.  Never once did I fear for my safety inside it, though clearly this was a precarious place to be should anything disastrous happen.


All in all, it was a wonderful day doing that “something new” on what was actually our 6th wedding anniversary.  Very appropriate for the day.  :-)


Can’t help but wonder where we’ll be on our 7th … I’m a lucky girl!

In the meanwhile, stay tuned for the next post:  The Denali Highway Adventure.

© TNWA Photography




A Season to Give Thanks


As we approach the Thanksgiving holidays, I can’t help but take a moment to pause and reflect on the things in life that I’m most thankful for.


Overlook at Dead Horse State Park in Utah – taken by Rodney Lange… Thanks!

First and foremost is Tom.  I know that I joke about him being my sherpa, but he’s a whole lot more.


“Sherpa” Tom out to find some bears – Katmai NP & Preserve

Tom is my husband (6+ years now), my best friend, and my partner in travel and adventure.


Taken by Kelli Williams somewhere in Utah …Thanks sunshine!

I know that it’s a bit cliche to say, but he “completes me” … more importantly, he gets me … and embraces it.


Thanks for the shot Dave! (www.goseebears.com)

There isn’t a person in the world that I would rather share my life with.


Selfie @ Dahmen Barn, Uniontown, WA

He shares my spirit of adventure and my love of nature.


Glacial hiking at Valdez Glacier

Sherpa Tom

Sherpa Tom is also a fine photographer – Yellowstone NP

He encourages me to spread my wings, always encouraging me to follow my heart and my dreams.


Snowy egrets – Orlando Wetlands

Debbie ready for action. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Thanks for the image Dan Cox of Natural Exposures!

Always willing to try or go somewhere new, life never gets boring.  :-)


Tom looks out at the Dead Horse SP landscape


Powder Mountain chairlift selfie in Utah

Then there’s my family… starting first with my daughter, Kelli.  I don’t think that it’s possible to be more proud of her than I.


~~~ Kelli, my “sunshine” & apparently my “unicorn” as well~~~ :-)

She really follows her dreams and stays true to herself.  Currently 1/2 way through her first year of PA school, she continues to amaze me with her dedication and drive to excel.


NSU Jax Physician Assistant Class of 2016 Inauguration


Kelli & her husband Mitchell … both amazing!

With all of the studying that she endures, she still finds the time to have fun with her husband, Mitchell, and their dogs … or should I say “poodles”.


Snowbunnies – Utah


Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico

I’m grateful also to my mom and her husband, who live nearby and always a part of my week.  Growing up my mom always set a great example of integrity for me, combined with a love for life.  Though they think that Tom & I have a severe case of “wanderlust”, truth be told, so do they, only their travel is usually on the seas.


My wonderful mom


My mom & her husband in Jackson Hole, WY

Family reunion

Family trip to Yellowstone NP


Holiday celebration with the family, Florida

I’m grateful that Tom & I have always had good and rewarding careers, which have allowed us the resources to do some of the things that we love.


Landing @ Katmai NP & Preserve

Out on the Russian River

Taken on the Russian River by Todd Stein … Thanks!

Of course, it goes without saying that our close friends and neighbors are also something that we’re grateful for as well.  Whether it be for a social gathering over dinner and drinks or lending an ear to help each other through this journey of life, it’s always a needed ingredient to a happy life.


Denali NP snowstorm in August. Taken by Tom; edited by Rebecca Tifft.

Last, but not least, I’m thankful for the opportunities that have presented me, whether it be travel, wildlife encounters, photographic adventures, or just the ability to clear my mind in the great outdoors.

Not a cloud in the sky - viewpoint of Mt. McKinley (aka Denali) from Stony Hill Overlook

Not a cloud in the sky – viewpoint of Mt. McKinley (aka Denali) from Stony Hill Overlook

Yes, life is good, and my thirst for travel and experiences that I have yet to have will surely continue … those who know me, know that it doesn’t take a lot to make me happy … just give me a few bears, owls, (and other wildlife is welcome as well) and a great view!  Remember … “life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”.  That’s my motto … and I’m sticking with it … THANKFULLY!


Coastal brown bear @ Katmai NP & Preserve


Great gray owl looking down at us in Ottawa.

Two Jack Lake, Banff NP, Alberta, Canada

Two Jack Lake, Banff NP, Alberta, Canada

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!  May you spend time surrounded by those whom are important to you and get the chance to reflect upon what you’re thankful for and celebrate life.


Upstate NY winery … Cheers to all :-)

Next up:  Kayaking the Valdez Glacier ice caves!

© 2014  TNWA Photography





Our Return to Valdez


Yes, the Kenai Peninsula can be a drizzly place, but so can the Glenn Highway on your way to Valdez.  This was my view for pretty much the entire 6 or so hour drive.  On the bright side, I didn’t make Tom pull over incessantly.


As we reached the Richardson Highway and made our way over the Thompson Pass, a 2,805′ gap in the the Chugach Mountains, it was totally fogged over with limited visibility.  The pass is considered to be the “snowiest place in AK”, averaging 551.5″ of the white stuff annually.  In the winter of 1952-1953, a record 974.1″ was recorded.  The single day record was also achieved in 1955 with 62″ within a 24-hr period!


On our way into town, we stopped off just outside at the salmon hatchery and were treated to views like this one.


Here the Solomon Gulch Hatchery Fish Weir, seen below, is designed to harness the adult pink and coho salmon as they return to their spawning site and then die, completing their circle of life.  Here the salmon artificially spawn and the eggs are harvested with a goal of 230 million for just the pink salmon.  Each female salmon produces on average 1700 eggs and the harvesting yields 10-15 million per day (as their goal).  It’s really quite amazing to see.


Part of the process is the fish ladders that the salmon must navigate on the way.  We would watch them and cheer them on as they put forth much effort to successfully reach their destination.


All of this fish activity, of course, brings the birds …


… the bald eagles also find their way there to get their share …


… the seals also come to check it out …


… and of course, the bears frequent the area for their easy meal.


While we didn’t see bears at the hatchery this year, we were able to have a black bear come out to greet us.  Funny, we could see movement, but no bear.  Then all of a sudden I guess that it smelled us.  It got up from feeding on the grasses to check us out.


To better ascertain as to what we were and what our intentions were the black bear began noticeably catch our scent.  See, bears have eyesight somewhat the same as a human, but their sense of smell are light years superior to ours.


There were obviously a family of magpies living in the bushes and they made it quite known that they didn’t want that bear hanging around their home, as they officially escorted the bear out of the area.  LOL.  The bear looked so indignant as it moved on its way.

_DSC3932 _DSC3938

We don’t get the opportunity to photograph many black bears, so it’s always a thrill for us when we do.

_DSC3942 The Duck Flats area along the Richardson Highway, just outside of Valdez, yields views such as this as you look towards Port Valdez.  The Trans-Alaska Pipeline terminus is directly on the other side.


A few days later, when we were leaving Valdez, the skies started clearing up and the landscape which was earlier under the cloak of clouds emerged.


One of the highlights when in the Valdez area is the Worthington Glacier, nicely viewed from the only road into town and accessible by foot, or I guess I should say crampons.  Viewing the glacier reminded me of a few years back when we took my daughter and now son-in-law to Valdez and enjoyed a day of glacial hiking, ice climbing, and whitewater rafting.


Rainbows almost always abound in Alaska, so they’re usually part of everyone’s memories.


Earlier this year, during the winter of 2013-2014, there was an epic avalanche through the canyon … called the “biggest avalanche ever seen” … which essentially took out the only road into Valdez and left its residents at risk for obtaining supplies and the subsequent flooding.  Most traces of that avalanche are now gone, but the wildlife seems to be less this year.


Before we leave the area, I noticed the clouds were quite varied and interesting and I couldn’t help but snap a shot or two.


Well, that’s it for now.  Our reason for travel to Valdez was also to explore the Valdez Glacier and its infamous ice caves via kayak, so we’re off to do that, but not before having a little bit of fun in town…  :-)

IMG_1994Stay tuned for the Valdez Glacier and our day touring the ice caves … Very cool!

© 2014 TNWA Photography


Visiting the Kenai Peninsula


Whenever we venture over to Katmai NP, we always do so via the quaint town of Homer, which is on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska.  About a 4-5 hr drive from Anchorage, the drive itself has a lot to offer … wildlife and views … and it’s one that we always enjoy.  This year though, much of it was done in the rain, well drizzle, and low lying clouds.  That always makes the “views” part of the drive a bit muted.

The stretch of roadway is almost a certain for spotting moose along the way.


When we arrived into Homer, we’re immediately awed by the views … Kachemak Bay and the Cook Inlet, mountains galore, and glaciers, which were difficult to see clearly due to the fog layer.  Homer is probably my favorite town in all of Alaska, at least of the places that we have been.  It’s been proclaimed the “Halibut fishing capital of the world”.  They describe it as “a drinking town with a fishing problem”.  It’s a combination of seaside, artsy, eclectic, and definitely outdoorsy.  I’m sure that in the height of the season, it can be also quite touristy, but we’re not usually visiting at that time.  Adventures are there for the taking and wildlife is also ever-present.


Bald eagles are probably the most known residents and can be found just about anywhere.  Such a thrill to roam about town and hear them calling out consistently in the distance.  This eagle is on the job watching for signs of tsunami activity.  LOL


When I looked towards the lake where we take off from to go to Katmai, this is what I saw.  I didn’t hold much hope for a flight out in the morning, but as you know, we got off without a hitch.


Gulls and black-footed kittiwake often live in their own version of “public housing” as they make their nests in the pilings of the underside of the dock on the bay.  It’s really quite the impressive colony!


Yes, it’s quite peaceful to sit at the end of the “spit” and look across the bay and see those layers of mountains, with lakes and glaciers adorning them.


The fog also hanging in the air and giving quite the mysterious impression of what lies on the other side.


Yes, the sea is quite revered in Homer, as its fishing industry is a predominant one, so they pay homage to mermaid … however by the looks of things, I don’t think that the eagles and the gulls respect her as much.  :-)


Near the fishing hole on the bay side of the “spit”, you can almost always count on spotting bald eagles as they wait for the changing tide and the fish that come with it.


This year, while walking around the town, we came across this sight and so, you know I had to check it out.  Turns out to be an art gallery with a very fitting display, sure to attract attention.


I especially loved these tiles placed together giving the illusion of the fireweed, which was still a bit in bloom when we were there.  Like I said, it’s an artsy town.


On our way to the Beluga Slough, I spotted this sign on the road, which I found quite humorous and appropriate for the town as well.


Last year, while driving past the roadside of the slough, I was treated to the “dance of the sandhill cranes” and I still remember it like it was yesterday.  Not so this year, but we were treated to sighting of the pair and their colt foraging out in the slough.  Such a precious sight.  Sandhill cranes are also a bird that you can hear and see in the distance at almost any moment.  Love it.

_DSC3746 _DSC3755

We stayed on a campsite on the beach and woke up to views like this each morning.


Nearby is a town of Anchor Point, where we visited to spot some wildlife … moose and bald eagles mainly, but another thing we found quite beautiful while there were the beaches.



Tern Lake, though absent of terns in late August, is a place that we stop every year, always with different views and impressions.  This year, it was quite overcast, the fireweed had already past its bloom stage, and there were very few birds occupying the lake … just a few loons and a solo trumpeter swan.  As much as I prayed for a moose to emerge into the landscape, it didn’t happen.  Maybe that’s for next year.  :-)


Now we’re ready to go across the Glenn Highway and onward to another seaside town … Valdez, where we hope to get out and do some kayaking and wildlife watching.  Be sure to stop by and check it out on Thursday.  We’ll be watching!  LOL


© 2014 TNWA Photography

It Just Keeps Getting Better! (Part 3: Katmai NP)


Continuing on with Part 3 from our recent trips to Katmai NP & Preserve….

We last spent time with this amazing sow and her young solo cub, where the cub had one thing in mind … nursing on mom, while we were in awe of the purring sounds coming out of the cub while doing so.


However, soon mom had something else on her mind also … salmon … and soon leaves her cub briefly to enter the river in search of something to eat.


Doesn’t take too long before she has found herself a nice catch.


Consuming the salmon is short work for these skilled bears.


Meanwhile, the cub awakens and becomes curious as to where mom went.  Standing on its hind legs is generally reserved for danger, simple curiosity, or getting a better view of its surroundings, as in this case.


Once it spots its mom, off it goes to join her.  After some tugging and growling with the mom over the salmon catch, the cub finally wins that battle … as it learns how to take care of itself.


And so she goes … back for another meal.


We observed numerous bears over the course of the day.  This particular bear has caught itself a fine specimen.


Not just any salmon, but a female, as evidenced by some of the roe flying about as it is chomped on.


As it emerges from the river, often shaking off the excess water is one of the first things that they do.


We noticed that this bear headed straight towards us with its catch. Awesome cooperation buddy!


Then we happened to see it glancing to its right.  That’s when we realized what was going on ….


This even bigger bear had set its sights on it, and its salmon, as it came charging in, then halted.


Right about then, this bear walked right past us, stared at us as if to test our intentions, then planted himself strategically on the other side of us, basically putting us between it and the other bear.


From there it began to devour its salmon.  See, this was a smart bear, for it came by us and sat near to us, knowing that the other bear didn’t want to be near us.  Sows do the same thing often enough with their cubs.  Though not this year, but in years past, we’ve had them essentially drop them off with us for unofficial babysitting duties.  LOL


Meanwhile the cub from earlier was up on the hillside, along with it entourage of gulls, which were just waiting for any leftover scraps from the cub’s salmon.


As we began to leave (myself most unwillingly), I noticed the cub, its belly full of salmon and its mom’s milk, settled down and lounged back – it’s “buddha belly” all swollen and peered down at us.  It was one of the cutest things I had ever seen!


So, was our time in Katmai National Park & Preserve!  Of course, our guide Dave was gracious enough to capture our farewell shot – Tom B, me, and my husband, Tom.  Yes, I believe there were smiles all around … even on Dave!


If anyone is interested in bear viewing – day or overnight adventures – in Katmai, I highly recommend AK Adventures (www.goseebears.com).  Dave Bachrach is our guide, who came to us highly recommended by our other guides from years past.  We’ve ventured out with Dave for 3 years now and have enjoyed our trips with him immensely.  Of course, for flying out to Katmai, we also highly recommend Wes and Angela of Beluga Air in Homer (www.belugaair.com).  Flying in the bush can be a concern for many, but we always feel in good hands.

Until next year … I hope that the bears have a successful winter’s hibernation and remain free and safe in 2015.

Oh, and of course, watching all of those brown bears catching and eating all of that salmon made us hungry for our own sushi … Yummy!


Up next in the blog … Homer, AK … my favorite town in Alaska!

© 2014  TNWA Photography

Rainy Day In Talkeetna


Sure we were treated in 2013 to our fair share of drizzly weather in Alaska, but first of all, that’s pretty much normal for this time of year and second, it was drizzly, not a torrential downpour ever, and third, we were in Alaska – who cares!


So as we left the Kenai Peninsula and headed on our way to Denali NP, we decided that we were going to check out the Hurricane Turn Train out of Talkeetna.  We had heard about it the year before when Tom met Mary & Clyde Lovel, Alaskan homesteaders from in early 1960’s, with 4 kids in tow.  They settled in a small area they call Sherman, AK.  More on that later.

In Alaska, not all communities are accessible by paved road, or even dirt road for that matter.  Many communities are accessible only via bush planes, while others are accessible via what’s known as the Hurricane Turn Train, which goes out into the communities served by it – once a day, just a few days a week.  It is one of the only “whistle stop” trains in the USA.  Residents which wish to ride the train into the town of Talkeetna, simply walk out to the train track … anywhere along the way … and flag the train down.  How cool is that?


Now normally you would imagine that a train that pretty much follows the path of the Susitna River into the wilderness would have lots of wildlife along the way.  Most times of the year that might possibly be true, but on today’s adventure, the only wildlife that we saw were faraway bald eagles and several pairs of trumpeter swans.


“Hey honey, I think that we’ve been spotted”


“Stop staring at us! Go away”


“I don’t think that they’re leaving anytime soon”


“Well, let’s just take this show somewhere else”

There were wonderful views outside the train as it traveled down the trains towards the Hurrican Gulch Bridge, which in itself is a fascinating sight to see roadside, but probably even more fascinating to witness as the train stops directly on the bridge and the gorge looms below.


Of course, all along the way, Tom & I were having fun running around between the mostly empty train cars.  What a way to visit history, stay dry, experience something new!


For Tom, I think the highlight of the day is when we stopped at the “Sherman City Hall”.  Well, OK it’s not really a city hall, but it is the self-proclaimed city hall of Sherman and the home of the Mary & Clyde Lovel.  Not only that, but they whistled the train down and boarded the train and rode it into town.  Once we arrived in Talkeetna, Tom was able to chat with Mary again, which he really enjoyed.  :-)


We also noticed a structure on the tracks, which turned out to be a train track snow blower, which I’m sure gets plenty of use most of the year, other than the summer.


After our time spent in Talkeetna and the other tiny towns along the way, we realized that we STILL hadn’t celebrated even our first moose sighting of the trip yet!  Until that moment … there it was … right in front of our eyes ….


Oh well, I guess the hunt is still on.  Glad that we’re on our way to Denali NP!

A Magical Place … Lake Clark NP


Every time we venture over to Alaska, we always try to do something different (sea kayaking, paragliding, whitewater rafting) or go somewhere different … and this year was not an exception.  OK, so it’s no surprise that we LOVE the brown bears.  We always fly over to Katmai or visit the Russian River to spend time with them, but we had never gone to the other area national parks, which are also renowned for their bears.  So, off we went to Lake Clark National Park for a new adventure.


It was a short flight from Soldotna to Lake Clark and it was also an outstanding one – once we got off the ground.  The views were incredible!  That being said, for a few hours, I thought for sure that we would not be going, as the fog layer was quite thick in Soldotna.  That’s pretty much a way of life in Alaska … flight delays  :-(  … and to make it worse, the weather was reportedly beautiful on the other side of the inlet.


But we finally made it there.  We usually fly over in a floatplane to Katmai, so it was quite a treat to experience a beach landing!  Pretty nice arrival, I must say.


We had plans to stay at the Alaska Homestead Lodge, hosted by James & Shelia Isaak, on the shores of the Cook Inlet, with Mt. Iliamna looming in the backdrop.  What a fabulous place with great views, great food, great lodging, great guests and great “neighbors”.

The first “neighbor” to greet us was a brown bear nicknamed “Trouble”.  How excited I was as I rushed to grab my gear to document the welcoming party.  It came strolling down the “road” … I say “road” because the dirt road in front of the property was also the “runway” for James’ personal airplanes.


Trouble didn’t get that nickname for nothing, as he immediately found the barrel out in the garden and began to try to roll it around and mess it up.  To us, it was fun to watch though and quite comical.

What an innocent looking young bear!   ... Not!

What an innocent looking young bear! … Not!

Meet Trouble ... doing what he did best  :-)

Meet Trouble … doing what he did best :-)

Eventually, with a bear just being a bear, it found the cover to the septic tank and began to gnaw on it.  Well, that didn’t sit well with the owners and he got yelled at and as it ran off, it tried to take the cover with him!  LOL


After a quick orientation to the property, we were off to find the bears.  There were signs of them along the way, as we ventured out to the shores of the inlet.

Now that's a big one!

Now that’s a big one!

Before long, we came across our first brown bear … coming in from the water it was coming right towards us … and continued past us.  Trouble was also present and we thought that we might have an interaction between the two, but Trouble was quite the submissive one around other bears.



Most of the time, we found this bear doing one of two things ….  sitting and looking around


…. or resting on a pile of warm sand, probably with its fresh catch buried under the mound.


But you couldn’t beat the view!


The bears weren’t the only ones fishing off the coast, as one morning we were treated to a bald eagle flying in, hitting the waters surface, grabbing a fish, and flying off with the prize.




Again, the bears wouldn’t be outdone by the eagles, so they would catch their own, carry it off, bury it, and of course, take a nap!



During our stay, the bears were less plentiful than even just a few days ahead, but none of that mattered to us.  We were just so happy that we could spend our wedding anniversary in the most magnificent place around.  Our “30th” … maybe, but probably more like our 5th.  See, our hosts had a 30th celebration for us, which made us laugh, but we took that as a good omen to come.  Thanks to all at the Homestead that helped to make it special for us.  :-)


Until next time …. we leave you with the serenity of Lake Clark NP


Next up for the Blog …. All aboard in Talkeetna!!

A Wing & A Prayer


One last blog post from Homer, AK … where we always seem to spend some time on each and every trip to Alaska.  They say that Homer is “A Drinking Town, With A Fishing Problem” … LOL … see, everyone knows that Homer is quite a laid back type community.  That being said, it is also well known that Homer is the place to be for fishing … for it’s the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World” and it ain’t too bad for many other types of fishing as well.  Fishermen come from all over the world to fish in the waters off Homer, Kachemak Bay, and the Cook Inlet.  I’m not just talking about the human kind.  :-)

One morning, after our “must stop” at Two Sisters Bakery for some drinks and a few baked goods or even their amazing sandwiches, we took off on a long hike along the shoreline north of Bishop’s Beach.  Being from south Florida, I feel very familiar walking along the sand, knowing that you never know what you’ll find.


As we hiked along, we could hear all of the familiar sounds … the crashing of the waves, the whistling of the wind, and the seabirds calling out along the shore.  What we didn’t expect was the tsunami sirens going off loudly and alerting everyone to what to do if this had been “an actual emergency” and a tsunami was imminent.  Of course, seeing the tall cliffs around us that we would have to somehow scale … I knew we, or I should say I, would probably be screwed!  Yikes.

Tsunami Warning Sirens all along the beach and town

Tsunami Warning Sirens all along the beach and town

Before long, we could hear the unmistakable calling out of bald eagles.  So shrill, yet so beautiful.  Our ears tried to determine their exact location.  It was like a game of “Marco … Polo”.  Soon, we saw where it was … that being not far in front of us, perched on one of the  beach rocks on the sand.  At that time, Tom had the long lens … I had the landscape lens. We were quite a bit apart and I knew that Tom had to act quickly to ensure that at least one of us got the shot.  From here on in through this post, these images were taken by Tom alone.


I told him to approach carefully, with respectful, yet not too quick of pace, being ready to push the shutter at any moment.  I sat down where I was, so as not to disturb his shooting. It was admittedly, one of the hardest things I could do … just sit.  I mean this juvenile bald eagle was perched so beautifully, calling out to what I would imagine where his nearby parents or siblings.

After some time, I guess that one of the gulls wasn’t too happy with his location and it began to harass him.  It dove at him, screaming all the time, coming from the right …



… then from the left, as the eagle turned around to defend itself.  Funny how even the feared bald eagles get the “Rodney Dangerfield” treatment, i.e. “no respect”, every now and again.   LOL.



I was hoping and praying that Tom was taking advantage of the gift of this sighting and having the right gear, at the right place, and the right time.  It was however, the equivalent of the perfect storm … the trifecta, if you will.

Finally, the juvenile prepped for its take-off.  “Be sure to get it Tom” I shouted.  I REALLY wanted my wildlife lens right about that point.  I could hear Tom clicking away on the shutter in a very purposeful manner … not your “spray & pray” fashion.



Off went the eagle, flying low to the sand, over the landscape towards Tom and eventually past him.  We watched where he landed and headed in the general direction.  This young eagle didn’t even mind when we got pretty close to his perched position, as he continued to call out.




We eventually decided that it had gotten as good as it was going to get, so we continued on our walk back to the RV.  It wasn’t until later that I saw what Tom had captured and I have to admit, I was quite impressed!  What do you think?  Yes, grasshopper learned very well.  :-)


Next:  All Aboard in Talkeetna!