The Arrival of Autumn

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

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

Next Up:  Let’s go to Utah!

© 2017  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Advertisements

Can You Ever Tire Of The Tetons?

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

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

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

Next up:  The Colorado Verson of Autumn

© 2017  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Colorado’s Highline Lake State Park

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

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

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

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

© 2017  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

The Third Times A Charm … Mt. Evans

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

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

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

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

Next up:  More sights and stories from closer to home

© 2018  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com