A Salt Lake City “Layover” Vacation ;-)

What’s one to do when you travel through Salt Lake City, Utah on your way back home?  Well, spend an additional day or two and get out and see the sights while you’re there.  I mean, it’s sort of like 2 vacations!  😉

The first day we spent was a rainy, cold, and cloudy day at Antelope Island, just outside of SLC.  These bison didn’t seem to mind though, and in fact, I think that they rather enjoyed it.  One of them was jumping and kicking as it ran across the landscape.

IMG_6172That night the rain turned into snow and we woke up to a winter wonderland, which I totally appreciated after feeling like I got cheated out of my winter.  🙂IMG_6202The next morning, we came across this frisky skunk running through the frozen field.  Believe it or not, it was my very FIRST LIVE skunk I’ve ever seen in the wild.  So though the images are far from the greatest, I was quite excited.  Let’s just say, the bar for a better shot was set low.  LOLDSC_2120DSC_2132Lots of raptors were out scouting the area for some dining pleasure.  Several of them were the American Kestrel … such a beautiful bird.DSC_2156DSC_1989With the weather clearing in the distance, the views of the snow kissed landscape were incredibly beautiful.IMG_6213IMG_6216By now, most of you who regularly read the blog know that I have a slight infatuation with Northern Harriers.  Maybe it’s because they have that “owl disc” face and I absolutely adore owls.DSC_2305A great blue heron graced us as well as it glided by us … so lovely against the mountain backdrop.DSC_2263Probably my favorite for the day though was this absolutely stunning rough-legged hawk.  We encountered it numerous times, which was just fine with me.  DSC_2343It’s so amazing to me that a raptor of this size could so delicately land and perch on such a small branch.DSC_2358It surveyed the landscape for perhaps some small critters making their way through the snow.  I love how their leg feathers cover all the way down to their feet.DSC_2377Alas, the time was right for the chase to begin as it launched into the air and towards its hunt and prey.  Just look at those awesome wings and markings.DSC_2404So graceful in flight and quite quiet as well in the silence of the winter … off it went.DSC_2408However, there were lots more of the northern harriers passing through and while they generally are not the most cooperative subjects for photography … some may even find them frustrating and annoying for the way they appear to dodge the lens… but this lady gave me a pretty good pass by.DSC_2307Absolutely stunning to me as it flew by us … with the backdrop of the snowy mountains and the frozen grasses beneath it … it was the perfect send off for us.DSC_2425Of course, one of the best sightings was that of the elusive Jen Hall, who was gracious enough to come down to SLC and spend the day with us.  IMG_6226

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com       http://www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com

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Let’s Go Get Some More Mountain Goats!

During our first year living in Colorado, we were able to visit Mt. Evan Wilderness Area two times … in search of those amazing mountain goats that reside there.  The visits did not disappoint.  Honestly, even if they did, the trip up the mountain is so spectacular that all wouldn’t have been lost.  With views like this at almost every corner of the paved, but  no guard rails road, I have to keep reminding Tom to keep his eyes firmly on the road ahead.  Similar to the road up Pikes Peak, this adventure up is not for the faint at heart.  :-O

Reaching the summit at 14,271′ high … I believe this is the true meaning of Rocky Mountain High!  Don’t try to run out and jump for joy, especially for us ex-flatlanders.  The air is thin, the wind is strong, and generally the temperatures are cold.

IMG_4747The real stars of the trek to the summit (or at least near the top) are the mountain goats which reside there.  This time our trip was in very early September … just a week or so before the road closes for the season.DSC_1632If you’re lucky, the goats can be found congregating near or at the top … if you’re even luckier, you can photograph them with many of the Colorado mountain peaks in the background._DSC2492On this particular day, there was an entire gang up there! 🙂_DSC2500Of course, the stars for me anyways are always the young ones … with their energy, curiosity, and endless antics always a pleasure to photograph.  Like many other species of wildlife, I could watch them all day … laughing almost the entire time as they romp around._DSC2541Clearly everyone wanted to be the king of the boulder at this moment._DSC2526There generally isn’t room for all of them, so staking your claim to the preferred spot is essential.DSC_1789Sometimes a form of “intimidation” is employed to get one of them to move … LOL.DSC_1754Sometimes one simply gets head butted off!  DSC_1707Learning to navigate the steep, rocky terrain is essential to a young one’s survival … and these guys start off young!DSC_1833Once I settle in from my fear of witnessing one of them mistakingly falling off the ledges, I can’t help but feel a bit of envy at their lives.  I mean, can you just imagine climbing out to a ledge, laying down, and getting these kinds of views?  OK, maybe if you’re like me and afraid of heights, you might not ever be able to relax, but this otherwise would seriously be a zen or namaste moment.DSC_1992The young mountain goats are quite fascinated with the human visitors that come by to observe and photograph them._DSC2742When they’re not playing with the others, the young generally follow the adults around instinctually.DSC_1924Gosh, I wish that I could visit with and photograph these fabulous mountain goats all year long, but in reality the mountains are totally covered and the road inaccessible for most of the year.DSC_1852One last look at them before we begin our descent.  Such an amazing visit.DSC_1842-EditOf course, there’s much more to see along the way down … lots of lakes, mountain views, perhaps some elk, bighorn sheep, pika …IMG_4749… and of course, a friendly marmot or two to bid you adieu and remind you to “Come back soon”.  🙂_DSC2829Hope that you enjoyed your virtual trip up to the Mt. Evans Wilderness Area in CO.  Yep, I think I like living out here.IMG_4744Next Up:  Let’s try our luck with some birding and such in Utah!

© 2017  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com            www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com

Photography Fun In Western Colorado

Living in Western Colorado has its advantages … one of them is that there never seems to be a shortage of places to look for landscapes, birds, or wildlife.  Just a few hours from home provides endless opprtunities.

Like these sandhill cranes, that congregate in fields numbering in the thousands, as they migrate through in the winter months.  It’s been wonderful seeing them, though I’m not going to lie, I sure miss the baby colts.  🙂

DSC_9670Speaking of congregating by the thousands, the Canada geese do the same!  One day we watched them fly into an area park, doing aerial acrobatics as they prepared to land.  I’m talking complete 360’s!  Snow geese also migrate through which has been fascinating.  A new bird for me was the greater white-fronted goose, seen below showing off and stretching out its wings for the crowds.DSC_9864While I thought that central Florida had its share of turkeys … but on the western slope, I’ve seen so many more!  Recently, we came a cross a group with the displaying male running the females along.  They are quite fascinating when they fly too.DSC_9992-EditOne of my favorite birds are now the mountain bluebirds.  You can imagine my thrill when I spotted these 5 on the tops of a bare tree.  True bluebirds of happiness for sure.DSC_9911-Edit-2Eagles also seem to be everywhere, whether they’re golden eagles or bald eagles.DSC_0098Some of the wildlife that call the area home are desert bighorn sheep, elk, moose, foxes, and other things, like the mule deer.DSC_0197Of all of them that I’ve photographed, I think I found this one the most amazing.  I mean, look at those gigantic fuzzy ears!  LOLDSC_0222-EditEven the rabbits are so adorable.DSC_0281-EditI have two more bird species that I’ve encountered that were new to me since moving out west.  The first is the evening grosbeak, which is actually a rather large finch.  the male, shown in the images, is such a beautifully colored bird.  They feed on insects, saps, berries, seeds, and buds.  This day, we encountered lots of them all gathered in a tree after some snow had fallen.  So very wonderful to hear them singing up a storm and jumping around as they fed.DSC_0672-EditDSC_0755-Edit-EditThe other new bird for me was actually a fascinating raptor, an owl … a very tiny owl … the northern pygmy owl.  As the name implies … how small is this bird? … so small that we almost drove right past it.  Thankfully we didn’t.  A quick through the binoculars was all that it took to confirm our finding.  Wow!  We were quite pleased.  Standing only 5-9 inches, it’s length is 7-7.5 inches and it only weighs just over 2 oz.  DSC_0479This owl was quite the cooperative one too … giving us lots of eye contact, as it eyed the surroundings about it as it prepared to hunt.  As we were photographing it, I couldn’t believe that we actually spotted it.  As they say, sometimes when you’re not looking for something, you find it, or should I say … it finds you.DSC_0343Now when I first went to capture an image, this is what I saw.  :-O  My first impression was something like “what’s up with this one?  Is it blind?”  Of course, I quickly remembered that they possessed white-framed black dots on the back side of their head feathers, which are meant to resemble another set of eyes.  OK, so this must be what our parents meant when they would tell us that they had eyes in the back of their head.  LOLDSC_0415But alas, it had the most brillant yellow eyes … where they should be … confirming our ade identity as it being a mature adult.  Eventually, it must have spotted something too good to pass up, so it left its perch.  It was a fabulous encounter.  Just me, my friend Amy, and this beautiful raptor!  Already looking forward to a reunion.  😉DSC_0367-EditHope that everyone enjoyed the blog post :  stories and images

Next Up:  Mountain goats galore

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

Exploring The Carson Valley Area

I had never visited the Carson Valley area before, well except for the hot air balloon that we took several years back over the Lake Tahoe area.  But I don’t think that really counted.  When I had the opportunity to do so in early 2018, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but knew that it would be an adventure.  One thing that I didn’t expect was the scant amount of snow on the ground.  I guess everything has its cycles.  However, the scenery was beautiful … so vast and open.

_DSC4553-EditWhile the landscapes were endless and varied, it was the wildlife that I primarily focused on.  Came across this beautiful buck foraging on the winter’s landscape … minus the snow and all.  😉DSC_0831Like I said, the landscapes were amazing and quite different than I expected.  Of course, our weather was quite threatening and the images projected that moodiness.  Looking across Washoe Lake was incredibly beautiful and the sounds of nature were all around us._DSC4568-Edit-Edit-2Found this Cooper’s hawk in the bare trees, right next to where I set up for that above image.  It cooperated for a bit, then had enough, and flew across the lake.DSC_0902Raptors were seemingly everywhere!  In the beginning we seemed to be scouting out the ever-present red-tailed hawks.  Their ID is generally quite obvious and they were hunting the fields.DSC_1520Then swooped in my favorite non-owl raptor … the northern harrier … not just any northern harrier, but the male, aka the “gray ghost”.  I don’t know what it is, but I find them so fascinating!DSC_1530While the adult male is gray in color, the female and juveniles are more of a brown color.  Their usually ID is that white strip on their rump, topside.DSC_1749At one point, we heard a hawk giving non-ending screams as it approached closer to where we were shooting from, which incidentally was our vehicle, on a day that had easily 40 mph wind gusts relentlessly blowing my long lens around!  DSC_1572As it flew overhead, we identified it as a ferruginous hawk.  Such a gorgeous raptor as well.  🙂DSC_1639As we were headed out to a park in the area for some owls, we did a double-take on something that we spotted out in the field.  After scoping it, we realized it was a mature golden eagle and it was feeding on what appeared to be a coyote relatively fresh kill.  Golden eagles have a wingspan of about 72-96 inches!  Now that’s one big bird!!DSC_1847We also spotted this lovely coyote working the field along the river.  It kept a keen eye on us, as I’m sure that they’re not always welcomed on the farms.  Looked quite big and healthy.DSC_1443Then out of nowhere … I saw them… wild horses.  I was quite excited and began to take REALLY far away images.  We drove out more closely to them, but still a respectable distance … after all, I wanted them to not feel threatened and act naturally.  To my surprise they came closer …DSC_0949… and closer ….DSC_0934… and closer.  I just loved it!  I also loved all of the sticks, feathers, and such in this horse’s mane.  We stared at each other for a bit … I wondered what it was thinking.DSC_1223Then a younger one came up.  By now it had begun to rain slightly and the winds picked up again.  How adorable is this young one?  So free, so natural.DSC_1289It met up with one of the mature horses and nuzzled it a bit…. Right in front of us, I might add!  A few snorts and vocalizations were overheard from this close distance, as we had the car turned off the whole time.DSC_1340These two were quite interested in us and approached our car.  By now, I was a bit unsure of how they might react and Tom had his finger on the automatic window.  They were so incredibly beautiful!DSC_1246After staring at us for a bit, they turned and retreated back to where they came from.  I would imagine that they visit the lake across the street often because when we were there, we saw evidence of such.  LOL.  DSC_1368That was pretty much an overall memory of our time out there.  It’s definitely an area that I want to re-visit one day.  Loved it.  ❤

Next Up:  Back to fun times in Colorado … and meeting a new “friend”.

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com