2016 Review… The “Far”

As with most years, many photographic opportunities presented themselves, not just in my home state of Florida, but the west was well represented in 2016.  Like the previous year end review post, I will focus primarily on the “new”.

Of course, there are a few images that never grow old, such as the frosty face of a bison fighting for survival in the harsh winters of the west.

_DSC6231-2Though I tend to forget sometimes the landscapes that lay before me, I tried to focus on them a bit in 2016._DSC4055There’s something magical about the iconic image of a beautiful red fox making its way across the snowy landscape …_DSC5569… though unique fox sightings such as this are quite beautiful and intriguing as well.  Never have I seen a setting like this one before._DSC5495It’s always fun to find a couple of coyotes in the snow as well, but it’s not everyday that you see this.  I know that to the casual viewer this looks like 2 coyotes standing there looking at us, which I suppose it was, but what makes this one so special is that they weren’t standing there being cooperative subjects by chance … they were tied after mating.  Once again, I’ve never seen anything like that before … and believe it or not, it was captured on Valentine’s Day.  🙂_DSC6495Another lifer for me was the elusive saw whet owl.  It had long been a dream of mine and I felt like I was floating on a cloud of joy when I got this one._DSC6977Sporting some nice red earrings and a necklace (i.e. tag and collar), my first mountain goats in the snow images were thrilling and a great bar to capture more natural ones in the future, though I do love the fluffy snow in this one._DSC7104This snowy day made photography a bit difficult, but I like most, still tried.  This group of elk in winter were getting tight as a group of either coyote or wolves were moving in on them. _dsc4122Speaking of wolves, I haven’t gotten a great shot of any wolves, outside of Denali NP in Alaska, before and still haven’t, but this is my first of that black wolf that calls Yellowstone home._DSC9812While I have lots of bison shots, this was the first year that I got out in the spring to capture those “red dogs”, who couldn’t be any cuter._DSC0192_DSC9570-2Predators can come in different forms and species, but the instinct to seek refuge is all the same.  Here I photographed a black bear cub who obediently climbed high (really high) to the top of a tree, while mom spotted a boar in the area.DSC_2910Speaking of things that I’ve NEVER experienced before was this aggressive protective behavior exhibited by this dusky grouse.  Though it played coy allowing images, it clearly felt threatened by some (especially women) and it ended with an entertaining, yet scary, encounter with Mr. Flashy Eyebrows, which incidentally change colors too.  LOL_DSC9981Usual sightings of beavers for me have been swimming around in the ponds, usually in the dusk hours, affording little opportunity for me to capture a great shot.  That changed in 2016 when this cooperative beaver exited the pond and sat, in the midst of flowers, on the bank and groomed itself for quite some time.  I was thrilled.DSC_4173-2Who wouldn’t want to have a lunch date with an incredible golden eagle? … Well, except the one being served as dinner.  I sat in awe as it devoured its dinner on the banks of the river, not far from where I was sitting.DSC_4697-2A first for me too was this ADORABLE little pronghorn antelope, that had to be less than one day old.  Nature is an amazing thing because this baby was so skilled at running and kept up with mom right from the get-go.DSC_2714In Florida, we have red-winged blackbirds, but out west they have these beautiful yellow-headed blackbirds.  Though a different species, their song is equally as distinct and lovely.
DSC_1400A definite goal of mine for 2016 was to get that iconic shot of the red-necked grebes swimming with their babies on their backs.  While I didn’t get that, I did manage to get not only the Western grebes, but an image of them offering the fish as part of their courtship behavior.DSC_1726Cuteness alert!  2015 I may have gotten my very first long-eared owls, but how about this?  It’s a long-eared baby owlet!  My heart melted the instant that our eyes met.DSC_21972016 was spent also on some landscape shooting … here from Steptoe Butte in the iconic Palouse …_DSC0513-HDR… and also from the Colorado National Monument, which overlooks the town of Grand Junction, CO._dsc1370-hdrIn what had to be one of the craziest shoots of 2016, was that very, very early morning at Maroon Bells in Colorado.  It was freezing when we started shooting some astro images in the wee hours, but continued to get colder as the sun began to rise.  That was my first time there … crazy, crazy, crazy the number of photographers congregating there!_dsc1135Fall in Colorado is a special treat.  The clouds, the mountains, the leaves … all jaw-dropping._dsc1577-hdrOf course, the golden leaf dropping aspens are always a favorite of mine, both on the ground …_dsc1160… as well as looking up towards the heavens._dsc7922Courtesy of Hurricane Matthew, which re-routed us from our return home, this bull elk chest deep in the lake was a new one for me too.dsc_8342The mule deer, also sporting their racks, were organizing as well.dsc_8998Yes, our time spent out west in 2016 was fascinating and full of firsts and new behavioral images.  Noticeably absent, in both this blog and in my heart, was Alaska.  It would have been our 10th consecutive year, but it wasn’t to be in 2016.  That only means that something super special must be in store for us there in 2017.  Can’t wait to find out!dsc_1673Thanks so much for our friends who participated in the fun during the year, including Jen & Travis, Amy & Scott, Rebecca, Jay, Phil, and Rick … we really appreciated sharing the good times with you guys.  I hope that you’ve enjoyed the trip down 2016 memory lane.  There’s one more segment to 2016 left though … hmm, what could it be?

Next Up:  Proud as a peacock moments

© 2016 TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

2016 … Looking Back Within Florida

Happy 2017 everyone!

As they say … “out with the old and in with the new”… but before that, I always like to take the time to reflect upon the past year.  To me, it’s all about looking back on where I’m been (mentally and physically), lessons learned, and adventures experienced.  Those reflections serve as the framework for my goals and direction for the new year.  So, grab yourself a drink, get comfy, and take a ride through 2016 with me.  🙂_dsc1983I think that 2016 can be summed up as near and far … usual versus unusual.  Let’s begin with the “near and new”.  Sounds like a Jeopardy category, doesn’t it?  Everyone knows that I live in Florida, and have most of my life, but that doesn’t mean that experiences can’t be new.

OK, I know you’re wondering “what’s so new about sandhill cranes”?  Well, of course I love them, especially those colts, which are their babies.  They are so darned curious and adorable.  Each one has its own personality … just like us.
_DSC8395While this is a typical image of the young colts being fed delicacies by their parents …_DSC0756-2…getting a shot of them precisely at the moment that one has just fallen face first into the muck is not.  To this day, when I look at this image, I find myself laughing.  Poor thing looks so indignant, while its sibling looks on.
_DSC9214-2When these colts are very young, they often can be found snuggled up into their mom or dad’s feathers for protection and warmth.  However, these two are getting big now, but that didn’t stop them from trying to snuggle in as well._DSC1807-2While I have other images from earlier years of our wood storks, I don’t think that I’ve ever captured one with the parents in courtship mode.  Don’t they look so happy?  _DSC3707For the first time in 2016, I was able to capture the courtship and nesting of the little blue herons.
_DSC4696Of course, when a bird flies in and perches on top of the trees, it’s a great photo op, but when the sky looks like a pastel colored canvas, it’s super special.DSC_0610Though many times I’ve seen painted buntings, this was the first time that I actually got a shot that I was pleased with.  Gosh, they are so incredibly beautiful._DSC5537Look out … it’s burrowing owl season again … where these captivating owls capture my attention in a way that few other birds can.  To say that I love with owls, is probably a bit of an understatement.  It’s more like an obsession._DSC3139Over the last 5 years or so, I’ve spend MANY hours with them, yet this guy managed to catch me by surprise as he jumped towards me on his way to returning to the burrow._DSC5274Tender moments such as the sharing of food during courtship seemed to be my focal point in 2016.  The behavioral aspect of photographing these owls fascinate me to no end._DSC4945Probably one of my unique experiences with owls this year came to me via a phone call.  A neighbor found this “bird” that he wasn’t sure what to do with … nor did he know what it was.  When I arrived, this is what a saw …FullSizeRender-1Of course, it was a very young eastern screech owl, which had inadvertently fallen out of its cavity nest.  Tom was able to find the nest and placed the baby owl back into it … with the mom sleeping inside!  This pair of owls was well known to us, as they had 3 owlets 2 years earlier in our yard._DSC9055I was honored to be able to follow this little owl from being a little fuzz ball … to being lost in the nest cavity … to barely being able to fit._DSC9095It was a proud day when it finally fledged … this being the last image I captured before it did.  I was so happy that we played a role in insuring the safety of this little one.  So cute!_DSC9327Trips out to see the activities of the nesting osprey were carried out, as in past years._DSC5624Usually I get solo shots, but this time many chase scenes ensued and it was a thrill to witness the calling out and acrobatic flying of these two osprey._DSC6375Swallow-tailed kites by the half dozen or so are the norm for me, but this year I got to photograph them by the hundreds!  It was so unreal to watch them as they roosted in great numbers, then swooped over the surface of the water to drink and clean themselves.dsc_7010Florida boosts another amazing owl, the Barred Owl, which has the most soulful eyes imaginable … I always find it hard to look away._dsc7785This year I got to observe some very cool behavioral displays, including this osprey who had just flown in with a fish, but was totally fending off its mate from joining in on the feast.  LOLdsc_2306This guy also gave me a unique shot … as it tried to dry off its wings from a recent sun shower.  Looks like it was meditating or saying grace.  For some reason, I really love this one.dsc_3206In 2016, white crowned pigeons became listed as threatened in the state of Florida, so it was appropriate that I was able to grab some nice images of them.  That was a first for me, though I do possess some really crappy ones from my very first encounter. 😉dsc_3767Kingfishers are probably a bird considered by many to be a nemesis … for they are so sketchy and flighty and rarely pause for an image.  This beauty was captured while preening herself.dsc_6987Speaking of endangered birds, this snail kite was successfully photographed one day while out in central Florida.  Love that red eye … no need to correct for that kind of “red eye”.  dsc_4930Of course, bald eagles are always a special sighting and I’m fortunate enough to have experienced many sightings and captured images, but this one is special.  I think it’s the topside, wings down position that I find so appealing.   What do you think?dsc_9556Yes, though I live in Florida and have for many years, it’s still fascinating and “new” images, birds, and behaviors can be witnessed.  Yes, the sun might be going down on this blog post (sorry for it being so lengthy), but there’s more to highlight in 2016._dsc5182I leave everyone with one final Florida image … that of the boat basis at the Deering Estate in south Florida.  So unique and beautiful … when shooting there, you never want to leave._dsc0945Next Up:  The “Far” of 2016

© 2016 TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Rural Florida

In the early fall season, I’m usually spending some time in south Florida.  Most of the time, it’s still quite hot … and buggy … so I tend to look for places that I can go and have my car in close range for respite.  Not too far from home is a wildlife management area that is fun to visit as long as there’s no hunting going on.  For this type of local getaway, we always try to get out nice and early.  Once we arrived, we were immediately  greeted by some local residents.  🙂dsc_7214One of the things that I love most when enjoying the outdoors is not only the sights, but also the sounds of nature.  Unmistakeable to me is the melodic song of the eastern meadowlark.  Before long, we spot the beautiful songstress perched up on a barbed wire fence … continuing with its song.dsc_7283This is one of the areas where I can usually count on seeing one of my favorite scavenger birds .. the crested caracara.  While they’re usually found feeding on carrion, this particular one was taking a break perched on a fence post.dsc_7313As I was photographing, it decided to launch into flight, though it didn’t go far.dsc_7327It landed in the grassy area and began to feed on the landscape … probably going after insects, lizards, and frogs.  Of all the scavenger birds, it’s got to be one of the prettiest.dsc_7410Red-shouldered hawks were also out and on the prowl for their own meals.dsc_7471We even spotted a black-crowned night heron foraging in the wet grassland.  I’m always fascinated by their signature red eyes at maturity.dsc_7492Even other songbirds were out and about.  This male northern cardinal paid us a visit on one of our many stops along the way.  Did you know that the northern cardinal holds the distinction of being the state bird of 7 states?dsc_7438Of course, grazing cattle are found throughout the ranch area.  This shot was taken of one of them with a signature cattle egret catching a lift on his shoulders.  That being said … am I the only one that thinks that this cow looks like it’s wearing a party hat?  LOL.  Well, it also looks like it’s been a bit violated or should I say christened?  🙂dsc_7496My favorite of the morning though was our encounter with several barred owls.  These medium-sized owls have distinctive large brown eyes, rather than the yellow eyes of most owls.  dsc_7521There’s something so special about the stare of an owl.  It’s almost hypnotic.  The barred owls have such soulful eyes too.  _dsc7785Of course, when they vocalize to each other, it’s often a symphony of calls … calling out … then a response call back.  Love it when they puff up their necks when vocalizing.dsc_7647Being careful not to spend too much time in their presence, we eventually got the hint when this barred owl seemingly rolled its eyes at us.  I guess we were a bit too boring for it.  🙂_dsc7792Yes, this is a fabulous place to visit, though I would advise to check the hunting permit schedule first.  Though south Florida is a large, crowded metropolis, it’s nice to know that within just a few hours, one can get away from the crowds and hustle/bustle of it all, and spend quality time with nature and its wildlife.  _dsc0837Next up:  The fall equinox at a most picturesque location

© 2016  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

They’re Everywhere!

So much of what I photograph is actually far from my home state of Florida.  Sort of ironic I think.  Very often I get asked for advice for shooting locations in Florida … when I myself am on a photography adventure in another area of the country.  LOL.  Having grown up the vast majority of my life in south Florida, I have learned to appreciate other areas of the country, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t truly love what Florida has to offer.  Usually that means birds, which Florida is known for.  On this particular day, we were IN FLORIDA and shooting BIRDS.

Nothing says springtime in Florida to me than my first sighting of swallow-tailed kites.  It’s usually on a trip down to the Everglades.  To say that I’m excited by the sighting of a dozen of them is an understatement.  So you can imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to photograph them as they roosted in the trees … getting some much needed rest before their migration out of the area.  The beautiful day started out early and very quiet.
stkOnce the sun rose, we could see them sleeping in the trees.  At first, just a few, but as our eyes adjusted, we could see hundreds!  It reminded me of one particular year in Alaska when we followed some bald eagles to their roosting grounds and found ourselves in what had to be the mecca of them … all little white dots in the trees … with the screechy call of the eagle coming from just about everywhere.

As the kites began to awaken, a few began testing their wings and the wind about them.  Before long, they were soaring about.  Of course, we were waiting for more than just soaring.dsc_6601We were waiting for the moment that they would come down to the water before us and complete fly-bys along the way.  I was so fascinated by their beauty.dsc_6680Once flying over the surface of the water, they would descend and grab a drink of water, as their image was mirrored on the lake.dsc_6481How could they hit the water at such a high speed and not endo?  dsc_6569But rather, they would do a “drink, drag, and fly away” maneuver.  dsc_6567Then back off to soaring they would go.  Swallow-tailed kites are the largest of the North American kites.  They are easily identified by their deeply forked tail, white head and body, and black topside wings.dsc_6571If you have never had the opportunity to observe one of these in real life, you’re missing a fascinating acrobatic show.  Their inflight maneuvers are simply stunning.  Tracking with the lens is often a challenge.  Though on this morning, we didn’t observe them directly feeding around us, that’s another amazing feat … they eat their prey on the fly!  Impressive!dsc_6674It seemed that they were coming and hitting the surface of the water regularly.  Over and over.  Sometimes their purpose of hitting the water was to clean off their bottoms.dsc_6784Of course, when they did that, a bit of extra effort was needed to pull themselves back out of the water and take flight again.dsc_6785As if the action of the swallow-tailed kites wasn’t enough, I just loved the way that the light danced on the underside of their wings.dsc_6786After grabbing a sip of water, they would always spit some leftover out as they flew off and prepared for another go around._dsc5077dsc_6790Sometimes as they flew off, they would almost collide with one another.  Clearly there were favorite areas to dip into and the “runway” would get a bit congested.  🙂dsc_6825That’s when we looked overhead … OMG, look at them all … catching thermals right over our heads.  Hundreds at a time.dsc_6713But the action continued right before our eyes … for a few hours.dsc_7140dsc_6912_dsc7770I felt a bit in heaven and now I’m curious if the dozen sighting of the past would even phase me anymore.  LOL.  OK, maybe this spoiled me.dsc_7010Such grace, beauty, agility, and poise.  I could sit there forever and watch.  Sometimes, like other wildlife opportunities, I found myself lost in the moment … just observing and soaking it all in … rather than shooting.dsc_6979dsc_6980It was a fabulous experience that I won’t soon forget.  I look forward to another day out on the lake again in 2017.  Can’t get enough of these swallow-tailed kites.  Until then, I wish them the best and safe migratory travels.  Thanks so much to Scott Helfrich for sharing this experience with us.  Fun times.  🙂dsc_6841Thanks to my better half, Tom Tubridy, who photographed alongside me this day.  Hey, got to give him sherpa duty break ever now and then.  LOL.  Good thing too, as when we compared shots on this day … his limited shots yielded many more keepers than mine. He needs to do this more often, I say.  What do you think?

Next Up:  More exploring in Florida

© 2016  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy & Tom Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Join Me On The Butte

I’m not sure about anyone else, but I simply can’t enough of the rolling hills and farmlands of eastern Washington state, so get ready for more of the Palouse region.  The weather couldn’t have been nicer either.  So glad that I remembered to bring the clouds with me too.  🙂_DSC0755Poppies, amongst other species of wildflowers, were seemingly everywhere, which truly added to the country feel of the area.DSC_5472_DSC0735These green grasslands almost look like someone rolled out the green carpet over the hilly landscape.  Place a lone tree in the distance, blue skies with a dash of clouds overhead, and you’ve got some type of “allergy-preventative medicine” scenery.  LOL_DSC0741Along our ways, we spotted a beautiful great horned owl sitting in a nearby tree with its eye glued on us.  Looks like a wise, old owl too.DSC_5532Of course, the bees were out in force doing their pollinator thing on all of the beautiful wildflowers.
DSC_5537We drove up to the top of Steptoe Butte again.  I had Tom walk over to the railing to give perspective to the area of farmlands that it overlooks.  It’s an entire 360 degree view.img_1218Every slight turn of your head yields a different perspective, as different fields are growing different crops to be harvested.  _DSC0758The struggle for me is always … do I want an encompassing shot that’s more wide angle or do I want to zone in midway or perhaps tightly to show more detail?DSC_5552Then there’s always … do I want a traditional landscape orientation or do I want to use a portrait orientation to bring out some of the variations in the farmlands?DSC_5554DSC_5555Decisions, decisions, decisions … usually it’s a bit of each … or when the beauty is so endless, a lot of each.  LOL_DSC0775DSC_5559Even the clouds play a role in how the scenery plays out.  Literally after just shooting a scene, you can look back momentarily later and see something totally different, as the light and shadows are dancing on the landscape.DSC_5560DSC_5561We just can never seem to get enough of being up in the Palouse and eastern Washington area.fullsizerender-5Check out this fascinating cloud display!  Yep, you can be sure that just like visits in the past, we’ll be back to get more._DSC0750Before we go, we wanted to be sure to give a big THANK YOU to Rebecca Tifft.  She played host to us when we were in town.  Look for her images on her Facebook page “Rebecca Tifft Photography”.  She has not only many images from the rural farmlands of the area, but also many from her years spent in Alaska, Denali NP specifically, as a tour driver.  She’s seen it all.  Not to be forgotten, we visited with Phil & Karen Kunst who live also in the area.  Phil’s photography work is in a class of its own.  If you aren’t aware of it, check it out on flickr @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/phils-pixels/.  While Phil couldn’t join us for some photography outings, we understood … he was helping Karen as she hobbled about after having foot surgery.  What a great guy!  Of course, Karen’s a sweetie too.  Don’t forget Teddy … woof, woof.  Getting together with friends made along the way, bonded initially by photography, but now considered to be like family.  Thanks everyone.img_1174

Next Up:  Birding action

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Wildlife Photography “From My Kayak”

So, I’ve watched the photography of Jay Stotts, for quite some time.  Some know him on flickr as “Walk in the Woods Photography” … others simply know him as the “from my kayak” guy.  See, he photographs a lot of his wildlife from … you guessed it … his kayak.  Yep, he gets a wide variety of birds (eagles, herons, grebes & loons – with babies on their backs) and also moose feeding on the vegetation, etc.  Well Tom & I love to kayak and have often photographed while kayaking in Alaska and Florida, so when we were visiting up in his neck of the woods, we knew what we would be doing at least one of the days.  Jay was gracious enough to meet up with us to show us his “playground”.

fullsizerender-11On this particular day, it was a bit cold and overcast, but that didn’t matter to us.  We paddled out through the vegetation in hopes of some moose in the water action shots as well as grebes.  It was so fabulous to be back in a kayak where we didn’t have to worry about alligators or venomous snakes.  😉fullsizerender-10Tom was in his element for sure and ready for the adventure.DSC_5187We all followed Jay’s lead, as he skillfully paddled out to his secret spots.  That’s when it hit me … oh no, usually Tom is paddling while I photograph, but this time I have to do double duty.DSC_5213Before long, we paddled past some beautiful yellow-headed blackbird, a species I had become familiar with earlier this year.  In south Florida, we mainly have red-winged black birds.  Their behaviors, at least to my unscientific eye, was quite similiar between the two species.  Their song was equally distinctive and beautiful.DSC_5159DSC_5162As fascinated as i was to see them, I had my sights on a moose!  The image below was unknowingly taken by Jay.  I think that I was trying to figure out where the moose were and where they might emerge into the water from.  LOL13323212_10208407841527207_2413208333219283595_oAs the day progressed, it became windier, though we had no idea of just how windy it would get.  I found it nice to hang out in the vegetation, which provided a bit more stability._DSC5039So we waited … and waited, while having lots of fun and laughs about being out there.fullsizerender-9OK, the red-necked grebe was spotted on the horizon and off we went to photograph it and those babies that would of course be on their backs just waiting for me to shoot.DSC_5069But unfortunately nature has its own timetable and we found ourselves a bit too early in the season.  We did get to see the nest, but no babies yet.  Not wanting to disturb or distress the couple, we decided to leave the area.  Next time.DSC_5080A great blue heron was visiting the lake as well.  Patience in stalking their prey is their middle name.  DSC_5237Seemed that we watched this one forever while it pursued its hunt.  Before long, we noticed Jay scoping in on something.DSC_5208On an higher ground island in the middle of the lake, he found a bunch of gulls congregating about.  One looked quite different of course, a caspian tern.  Known for being quite aggressive when defending its colony and nest, this one was quite docile to us.DSC_5259DSC_5309Before long, we noticed a few more were flying overhead.  I just love terns … whether it be these caspian or others such as forster’s, arctic, common, or least terns.  They are so acrobatic in their flight and angelic as they hover overhead preparing for a dive._DSC5053Guess this guy has hung out on this log before by the look of things.  LOLDSC_5365fullsizerender-8After some more paddling about, we came across the delightful, though quite loud, killdeer.  We didn’t see any nests, though mating season was clearly upon them.DSC_5373DSC_5376Paddling through the thick vegetation became a challenge at times (at least for Rebecca and I), but we all managed just fine overall.  A storm started brewing off in the distance and was clearly targeting us, so we had to call our time a bit short.fullsizerender-7One more look at that magnificent great blue heron.  Not sure if it finally got some dinner or not.DSC_5380Yes, we had some fun times out on the water.  As my friend Michael Libbe can attest to, sometimes I get a bit preoccupied on the water when there’s a lull in the action.  This time though it was apparently only Tom’s ears that I was caught checking out.  LOL.  Thanks to Jay for capturing this moment on the water of me actually using my lens as my impromptu binoculars.
13329431_10208407844367278_2416008689066263302_oSafely back on the dock, we took one last shot (iphone of course) of the fun times of the day.  We couldn’t thank Jay enough or Rebecca’s friend Donnette who loaned us her kayaks for the adventure.  Next time, we’ll bring ours with us Jay!  Check out his incredible wildlife photography on flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jays_wildlife).  We’ll be back next year!fullsizerender-6

Next Up:  More from Steptoe Butte in the Palouse

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

The Palouse of Southeastern Washington State

I’m sure that you’ve all heard about the Seven Wonders of the World, right?  Well, how many of you also know that there’s a Seven Wonders of Washington State designated as well?  Yep, that’s right and our next stop in the blog (or two posts) is probably the most beautiful of all.  I’m talking about the southeastern rolling hills and farmlands of southeastern Washington State known as the Palouse region.  This is not our first time out there … not even our second … but I believe our third.  We love it so much that we travel out there, from SE Florida, as often as we can.  Come along with us throughout some of the area and up to Steptoe Butte for a sunset shoot.

_DSC0622As you can see, simply the drive out through the farmlands is awe-inspiring.  Mind you, we haven’t even been in Washington state for more than a few hours at this point and we’re already in hurry up and get there mode.  LOL.  Luckily, on our way we cross paths with a beautiful great horned owl which unfortunately left its lush tree setting and opted for the power line instead.  I’ll have to have a talk with that owl about preferred photo op locations.
_DSC7517Steptoe Butte has an elevation of 3,618 feet and offers a 360 degree view of the Palouse area.  As you drive up to the summit, it’s difficult not to stop on every corner, for there’s so much “eye candy” out here for landscape photography._DSC0331As the sun began to drop closer to the horizon we were gathered in silence and full anticipation mode of what was to come._DSC0342Right about then I heard another photographer softly call out that we weren’t alone to come out to watch the sunset.  It was then I saw 2 deer venturing out onto the butte hillside to join us.  In addition, you could hear the yelps of distant coyotes and the calls of ring-necked pheasants.  I was so thrilled about having a few wildlife moments, that I almost forgot why I was there._DSC0400The skies were changing with every minute that passed … perhaps every second.  The colors and tones in the sky were gorgeous._DSC0413Eventually, the sun dipped below the horizon and the colors soon retreated nearer to the horizon as well.  It was quite unexpectantly cold up on the butte, but when you’re shooting beauty such as this, you don’t feel a thing, except the fresh air hitting your face and your heart racing for more._DSC0513-HDROf course, there’s more to the Palouse than rolling hills and farmlands.  We were also treated to several photo ops including old trucks, rusty cars, and of course, the famous barns that call the area home._DSC0572_DSC0609_DSC0634Such history abounds out there at almost every turn in the meandering road._DSC0648Some areas are still being used … some preserved … some dismantled, such as this old stripped down silo.  I found it quite interesting to photograph and Tom toured around it a bit.  I can’t tell you how hard it is to get that guy away from places with history.  🙂_DSC0653The vast picturesque landscapes that abound are primarily agricultural in nature and their appearance is dictated by the seasons.  In the late spring and summer, the landscape resembles that of a green carpet with some light brown or other color fields running through it.  By the fall, when the fields are ready to harvest, they turn browner.  No matter the color, the light plays a big role in producing the shadows which make the area comes alive in ever-changing views._DSC0621_DSC7519It’s so very beautiful to see and I find myself lost in the lines within the scene._DSC7531Lone trees, or patches of trees, add interest to the landscape as well._DSC0625_DSC0660In Uniontown, along the 208-mile Palouse Scenic Highway, we always make sure to visit the Dahmen Barn and the infamous wheel fence.  I was a bit sad this year when the barn happened to be closed and I couldn’t check out the gorgeous works of the local artisans._DSC0679The barn complex has been expanded since we last visited it._DSC0680By the end of day 2, we were treated to another beautiful sunset … this time photographed from the roads._DSC0686Next Up:  How about some kayaking?

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Two Amazing Wildlife Encounters & Rainbows :-)

You never know that you’re going to find when in Yellowstone National Park during the springtime.  Fresh off my dusky grouse encounter from the day before, we had another encounter, which was a first for me … a beaver.  Normally I get images of a beaver swimming around in the water.  Usually it’s at dusk, so the light is not great.  When they’re swimming around, it’s usually just the face.  Not this day.  Sure, it was making its way through the water, but then something magical happened.  It swan to and climbed upon the shore.DSC_4140-2It even turned around for us and posed in front of some beautiful yellow wildflowers.  It began to groom itself … dipping its front feet into the pond and then pouring it over its head and then seemingly wringing its head and face.DSC_4166-2Then it began scratching on its belly. DSC_4173-2It clearly developed an itch at some point as it began to scratch itself in the front with its right paw and simultaneously on its back with its left paw.  As I was photographing it, I couldn’t help but want to reach out and give it an assist.  LOLDSC_4220-2Even got the back feet involved in the scratching.DSC_4449-2This beaver sure wanted the attention of all of the cameras focused on him/her.  After some time of photographing, we decided that we had enough and moved on to other subjects.DSC_4411-2Every time I spot a rainbow, I know that it’s a special sighting… and this one was a truly spectacular one.  I just loved the way that it was so brightly illuminated all of the way to the ground.  Just makes you want to venture over to look for the “pot of gold”._DSC0302-2Winding down on our last day before leaving the Yellowstone area, we had to of course take one last trip through Lamar Valley.  At some point, I noticed this enormous bird swoop by.  Stop the car!  I got out and ventured towards I saw it flying, not being sure of what it was.  I walked down the embankment a bit and decided to sit down and calmly check things out.  As I scanned the landscape, I initially saw nothing … then there it was … a gorgeous golden eagle.DSC_4659-2I couldn’t believe it when it spotted me and just continued on having its lunch of some type of ground critter.  DSC_4662-2It tugged at the unfortunate prey and pulled it apart.DSC_4697-2A magpie came in and tried to be an uninvited dinner guest, but the golden would have nothing to do with that.  It stood up tall, spread it wings (with its 6-8 foot wingspan) and chased down the magpie, who quickly “peaced out”.DSC_4728-2After most of its lunch was consumed, it quickly launched itself into the air, which in itself was impressive to witness.DSC_4766-2DSC_4768-2DSC_4769-2Eventually it flew onto the hillside on the other side.  Gosh, it was one of the most beautiful birds that I had ever seen.  Reminded me a bit of an immature back eagle, but with its size, there was no mistaking it!DSC_4797-2At the end of our day … and our Yellowstone trip, there it was.  That gorgeous rainbow re-appeared, but this time I could compose it such that you couldn’t mistake where we were when it graced us._DSC0298-2As we drove through the town of Gardiner, MT, it provided us one last special treat.  In fact, if you look closely it was a double rainbow.  A perfect ending to a perfect trip.  Good sightings, varied wildlife, lots of firsts (including my first tick … don’t ask, it could be a blog in itself … yikes!), and the company of great friends and laughable moments that are still fresh in my mind.  Life is good!_DSC0290-2

Hope that everyone enjoyed our images, stories, and memories from springtime in Yellowstone NP.  I know that we’ll be repeating this one again soon.

Next Up:  Let’s head up to the Palouse

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

It’s Just A Little Grouse … Or Is It?

Yellowstone National Park is known probably most for its wildlife … bear, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, coyote, wolf, fox, deer to just name a few.  It’s also home to some fabulous birds, such as bald and golden eagles, falcons, a variety of hawks, owls, and many species of ducks and other water birds.  Then there’s the grouse.
_DSC0032Such a sweet bird … resembling that of a chicken.  I remember one winter having such a great time photographing a grouse, though now that I think about it, while photographing it that grouse flew down from the roof of the outhouse … almost into my lap!  I was amused that year.  Little did I know that I was about to have another grouse encounter._DSC0024See, this beautiful dusky grouse was located by coincidence as we stopped to photograph something totally unrelated in the far distance.  The grouse was walking around on the grassy landscape and started making its way towards us.  As usual, I started talking softly to it as I happily snapped off some shots of it.  As it neared, it walked over to some flowers in the grass, picked them off, and proceeded to eat it.  The flowers complimented its bright yellow eyebrows.  So pretty.  Such a wonderful photo op, I thought._DSC9936I distinctly remember telling it how adorable it was and how I loved what it was doing.  I was in a squatted position and it began to come near me.  That’s when I noticed that its eyebrows were changing colors and I got caught up in the moment of wondering why.  I remember another photographer also nearby taking shots … but they were much more selective.  _DSC9957Then all of a sudden gave a call out … then rushed me … and OK, don’t think I’m crazy, but it jumped at me … making contact with my shin.  I was totally startled, jumped up, and that’s when I heard the clicking of another camera.  I noticed it was the other photographer nearby and then saw that he was laughing.  I asked if he had seen it and he responded that he did.  I then asked if he had gotten a shot of the “assault” and again he said he did.  He then told me that I wasn’t the first that it had attacked.  LOL_DSC9974This grouse then would give a shrilled call out, that I can only compare to the call that the velociraptor does in Jurrasic Park movies.  OK,  by now I’m trying desperately to vacate the area, but of course, this guy kept following after me._DSC9983All the while, its eyebrows continued to grow a deeper shade of orange …_DSC9981… to an eventual reddish color.  He would act as though he lost interest in me, then would eye me from a side glance, and rush me again!  I wasn’t alone either, as he seemed to prefer women.  He never really went after Tom or the male photographer having fun at others expense.  LOL_DSC9926_DSC9997At some point, he began to flare up his feathers and go into courtship mode.  See, they have a patch of violet-red skin on their neck surrounded by white feathers.  I wished he had turned just a bit more to show it off better, but I clearly didn’t want to hang around any longer._DSC0005I’m not sure if it has a nest nearby or if it was simply protecting its territory.  Either way, I got the message quite clearly.  As I turned to leave the area, it gave me a final glance.  It truly was a fascinating, though I must admit, a bit frightening of an experience.  Tom of course didn’t believe that it made contact with me, but Jen saw it for herself.  We laughed the rest of the day and many times since over this encounter.  I think that it goes without mention that these images are all cropped for detail.  Just making sure that’s clear.  🙂  _DSC9996

Next Up:  Lunch with a golden eagle and more from Yellowstone NP

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

Yellowstone is a very unique and diverse ecosystem … one where you never know what you’re going to be treated to … and the conditions and weather overall can change in a moments notice.  To me, that’s a large part of the beauty and mystique of Yellowstone NP.

On this particular morning, the fog was heavy and the clouds were low.  Though it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, often things present themselves in a fresh perspective.  This bull elk, already sporting some new antlers covered in soft velvet, was found out in the open grassland.   I couldn’t help but notice how wonderful it looked, with those thick clouds in the background.  I knew at that point that it would be an exciting day._DSC0255Yep, it would be a day of varied wildlife for sure.  It wasn’t long before we spotted this lone black wolf in the distance on the open plains … in stalking mode.  No reinforcement from the pack was seen nearby and a solo sandhill crane effectively alerted all potential prey of its presence.  Needless to say, it gave up for the moment and traveled along its way.  OK, so I have to share an amusing moment with everyone … when we were photographing the wolf, a car pulled up and asked us if we had spotted a … horse!  Not really sure how this looked like a horse … especially with the group of long lens photographers who were setting up … for a horse?!  LOL_DSC9812Yellowstone always has its fair share of bison which I’m always fascinated with.  Not sure if it’s their size, their manner as they move about, or the fact that maybe my mind goes back to the bison heads that used to hang on the walls of “Country Bear Jamboree” show at Disney when I was growing up.  🙂_DSC0110Of course, in the spring, there are always lots of “red dogs” nursing off their moms … just the cutest things to watch until they ram their heads into the moms bellies.  Ouch!_DSC0192Can anyone out there resist this one with its “Milk Mustache”?_DSC0218Pronghorn antelope were also quite prevalent during the spring.  This male was chasing around the female, who was pregnant, relentlessly._DSC7470Quite honestly, I thought it was going to drop that baby right then and there!_DSC7455Red fox are favorites of mine.  We caught this one waking up from napping in the shade.  DSC_3811Of course, deer also are fun to spot and photograph, especially when you’re treated to a “two-fer” … two for one, that is._DSC0146Springtime is confirmed with the presence of bluebirds darting about.  _DSC0158Though it was well into May and the official spring season according to the calendar, but in Yellowstone calendar dates aren’t necessarily what determines the season … and snowfall in spring or even summer can happen at any time.fullsizerender-1Just to add a bit of excitement to our day and drive throughout Yellowstone, as we were traveling this tight section, with dropoffs to the right, we heard a noise and watched as an icy boulder came down the mountainside right in front of our car.  Thankfully Tom was able to stop in time and we got out to investigate.fullsizerender-3At first, we thought that we would simply pick it up and off the road by hand.  No way that was going to work, as this frozen boulder was HEAVY!  So while Jen and I blocked any oncoming road traffic, the guys used Tom’s truck to drag it off the road and harm’s way with a couple of heavy tow straps.  Great job Travis and Tom!fullsizerender-2Good deeds are usually rewarded I believe.  Kind of like karma.  Not more than a mile or two down the road, we spotted a bighorn sheep ram … then realized it was an entire herd of boys._DSC7066At first, I wasn’t sure that they were feeling too comfortable with us being there, so we stayed way back, encouraging them to possibly come out for some shots._DSC7184They did just that … and eventually jumped over the rail, onto the road briefly, then proceeded up the mountainside.  I just love the way that they stare with those big eyes. _DSC7330At some point, we pulled over to find some Barrow’s Goldeneye swimming in the still icy water.  This couple was trying to have a few moments of “alone time”, but another male had other plans._DSC7417Over and over, it would be chased off, only to give it another chance.  LOL.  It would swim directly over to the lovebirds and a scuffle would ensue._DSC7410Defending it’s female mate, the male Barrow’s goldeneye would charge after the intruder.  You could hear the action … calling out, running on the surface of the water, water splashing everywhere … so funny to watch and quite interesting as well._DSC7386Every so often, after a successful defense, the paired male would sit up and perform a well executed flappy series for us.DSC_3954The ground squirrels, always on the menu for many wildlife species in the park, alert each other as to the goings on of prey._DSC7473In this case, it was the badger on the prowl.  I was so excited … after all, it was my first!DSC_3839DSC_3846I had been looking for these guys every time I visit Yellowstone.  Finally!  Thankfully (for us anyways), we never saw it catch anything.  I’ve heard stories of how relentless it can be for young wildlife.DSC_3843So this year, the trip was already known in my mind for the wide variety of wildlife that we saw.  Sure, we hadn’t seen a wolverine yet … but I really wasn’t expecting that.  Though I can dream, right?fullsizerender-4Even a yellow-bellied marmot came out to greet us, as it basked in the warmth of the sun.DSC_4910OK, one last glimpse of these young great horned owls before we retreat back to our B&B for the evening … ready to do it all again in the early morning.DSC_4915Can’t every get enough of Yellowstone NP, that’s for sure!_DSC0316Next Up:  What species of wildlife scares me most?  At least on this trip … :-O  Tune in to find out.

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com