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

A Final Act Of Kindness

As we approach the Thanksgiving Day holidays, I have been spending some time thinking about all of the things that I’ve been thankful this year … of which there is many.  Sometimes things that you’re thankful for are happy things, many of which have given you great joy or satisfaction.  Sometimes they are bittersweet memories that, though sad, have enriched your life nonetheless.  I’m sure that I’ve lost most of you by now with my rambling.  Let me explain.

See, all of my growing up years, I had been surrounded by dogs. My parents bred show dogs (miniature schnauzers and Norwich terrier).  For that matter, I even took their Championship status even further by showing them for obedience as well.  When my daughter was young, she begged me to get a kitten that Brownies leader had found.  That cat, Kahlua, was brought home and lived 18 years in our home.  We loved her, though she was far from a “needy” cat.

We had our fair share of strays pass through our yard … dogs and cats (bunnies too) … many of whom also were brought into the household and loved dearly.  Then there was a black cat, we creatively called “Blackie”.  He would hang outside under our RV and seemed to like being there.  On Halloween, 4th of July, and New Years Eve we would bring him into our porch, since you always hear those horrible stories about black cats and how mean some people can be to them.  Once in a while, he would get in a fight and injured and I would gather him up and take him in for treatment.  He was always very calm about it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAimg016We grew to love him too … well, the rest of my family did, but probably not as much as I did.  See “Blackie” and I had a special bond… something that I can’t explain.  We often wondered where he came from and if anyone knew where he belonged.img015dsc_0024After some time, we came across a flyer for a “missing cat” in our neighborhood.  Lost was a black cat, Malarky was his name, and he was easily identified by his extra dewclaw on both of his front paws.  By then, I had fallen in love with this little guy, but called the number to report that I might know where it was.  The owner was grateful, came over, picked him up, and got his shots renewed.  Before nightfall, there he was again.img_2566Eventually, the owner told us to keep him since he was always hanging out at our house anyways.  So that’s what we did.  He became a real member of the family and his name was  honored as Malarky.  He was such a character too.  Always finding himself a nice little cubby place to cuddle up in.  Whether that be the sink …img_0234… the “cuddle cup”…img_2405… the laundry basket…img_0452… or the arms of anyone who ventured into the house.  Little did they know that they were going to be his next “loving victim”.img_0204He also had a love affair with water.  Can you imagine that?  This cat would actually join us in the shower!  He just loved the way water would drip off of your hand and would lap it up.  LOL.  Of course, he often hung out in the garden area as well.img_0455img_0456He just LOVED to drink out of the water sprayer and would just get covered in the spray.img_0694But when he was in the house, he was my boy, always laying in my lap while I worked at the computer.img_0469As he got older, he actually learned to love other cats, even my daughters two dogs when they would come over to visit.  I’m sure that they didn’t understand why all of a sudden, after years of trying to be his friend, he succumbed to allowing them to get close … without a gentle swat of the nose.img_0853I can’t explain why but he became my “soul kitty” … with his unconditional love and incessant purring … so very loud!  When we would go away on trips, he would only last about 2 minutes and 3 pats on the head before it would start.  I loved it so much I have recordings of it.  🙂img_0825Over the years, Malarky became slower, thinner, less cognizant of his surroundings … other than his desire for my lap and love.  His eyesight began failing, his hearing was impaired, and his mobility was weak and limited.  He could no longer jump into the sink, the laundry basket, though he would still jump into my lap, but without my assistance he would fall and sometimes I never saw him trying.  I was devastated at watching one of my best friends, my feline soul mate, and my source of unconditional love, struggle so.  I had to make one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made.  I made the dreaded phone call to Lap of Love – an in-home veteranian hospice where the process could be dealt with as much love and security as possible.img_0992img_1051-2It’s been 6 months tonight.  It was a sad, but honorable, heartfelt emotional moment.  I haven’t been able to talk about it since then, and honestly I still can’t without tears filling up my eyes.  I know that he wouldn’t want me to be so sad, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him.  I still feel as though a piece of my heart is missing.  I hope that he knows that I did the right thing … I think that he does.  They say that it’s the final act of love that you can do for your “best friend”.  So glad that we can do that for our pets … I wouldn’t have wanted him to suffer.  Our pets are like an extension of our families … the “furry” ones.

Coming full circle from the beginning of my post, one of the things I’m most grateful this year, and for the last 14+ years, was having Malarky in my life. There’s a reason he chose me to live with.  He taught me many things and filled me with much graditude.  I’m so glad that we have so many wonderful and happy memories to call upon.  I hope that this blog post helps me in celebrating his life, rather than mourning it.  As he runs freely, without pain and suffering, having crossed the Rainbow Bridge, I know that we will find each other again when the time comes.  Until then MooMoo, know how much I loved you and miss you everyday.  RIP Malarky ❤fullsizerender-2If you ever find yourself in the difficult position, I fully endorse Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, Inc.  They were highly professional, kind, compassionate, and understanding.  I couldn’t have done it any other way.

Next up:  More from the Butte

© 2016  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

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

An Arctic Celebration

As you might recall, this post is supposed to be about kayaking.  All right, I know what you’re thinking … did she kayak with the polar bears?  Well, of course not!  But in celebration of Polar Bear Week 2016 (Oct. 30 thru Nov. 5), I decided to share another installment of polar bear images this week.  The kayaking adventure hasn’t been forgotten though, so stay tuned.

So last year, I traveled (on my own mind you) to Barter Island and Kaktovik where I spent 5 glorious days photographing amazing polar bears in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge of Alaska.  Three earlier posts relating stories and images (March 14, 2016; March 22, 2016; & April 18, 2016) have already been published.  But there was more …

Enter the polar bear ….

_DSC1073Such fascinating bears … bears that I had always dreamed of seeing one day … though I really didn’t think that I actually would see them in person … in the wild … myself.  I was immediately impressed by their size, their thick coats, and their very large paws.  Some things never change, as I’ve always been fascinated by bear paws and claws.  🙂 _DSC1236What I was suprised to see was how social they were amongst each other.  They tended to congregate together and, for the most part, they were quite peaceful._DSC1381I don’t think that I ever saw any fighting amongst them.  Like other bears, some were clearly the more dominant ones, while others played the encounters and interactions in a much more submissive way._DSC1021 Another interesting observation that I made was how the sows seemed to gather together and take turns (I would imagine only to some extent) supervising over the cubs, whom played together on the icy landscape._DSC1901 _DSC1904Probably one of my favorite activities that the polar bears would engage in was swimming in the sea.  It was so fascinating to watch them dive under the water and emerge swimming with such efficiency and skill.  Often the sub-adult bears would find each other and engage in “water play”.
_DSC1282 At first, I was a bit nervous that the “play” would turn into something more violent.  As with other subjects in nature, I prefer not to see the “tough nature scenes”.  _DSC0920 To my delight, that never occurred.  The encounters were peaceful and playful with a lot of teeth barred  and growling audible.  It reminded me of how dogs play with each other.  The proverbial “all growl and no bite”.  🙂_DSC0948 _DSC0789 Sometimes they even played games of tug-o-war with each other.  In this instance, a piece of driftwood was found floating in the water, which is amazing since the nearest trees are about 500 miles away!_DSC0875 Of course, just like dogs in the water or other bears for that matter, the obligatory time out for a good shake was routine._DSC0775 Along with the water droplets, icy particles also were thrown about during the shake.  See these bears are hanging around Barter Island waiting for the ice to freeze, so that they may travel about in their hunt for seals._DSC8533 Yep, this duo, dubbed the “A-Team” by our group, seemed to be the best of friends._DSC1552After a brief pause in the action, the playing would be repeated … over and over.  I remember thinking that I would be afraid of them in the water for they are expert swimmers.  I wondered if they would beeline over to us in our small fishing boat.  Again, that never happened either.  Yes, I was thankful.  🙂
_DSC1499 As they would emerge from the water onto the snow covered landscape, I could only imagine how heavy they were with their fur all saturated with water._DSC1530 While we were there we probably photographed about 20-30 bears.  Each had their own appearance and personalities.  Some were solo bears._DSC1077 Some were sows with cubs nearby._DSC1945 Of course the stars of the polar bear encounters were always the cubs.  They were about as carefree as possible and I remember how obedient they were as well.  _DSC2323 The cubs were also quite curious about everything around them.  Whether it be a blubber remnant, a random feather, a rope, another cub, or us, they were intent on learning more._DSC2333 These polar bear moms were amazing moms too.  I’ve been around different types of bears and no moms have ever seemed as patient and kind.  That doesn’t mean that they didn’t practice discipline when they needed to._DSC1669 So during this Polar Bear Week, I hope that everyone out there thinks about how they can personally help to increase the awareness of the threats that these incredible creatures must endure.  The rate of arctic ice melting is alarming and the encroachment of their habitat is always a concern.  I could not imagine anything more sad than a world with polar bears in the wild.  I’m so honored to have been in their presence.  If you ever have the chance to visit them yourself … go.  If not, learn all that you can about their plight and help be their voice.  Thanks!_DSC1048There will be one more blog post on the polar bears before the end of 2016.  I hope that you enjoyed the first 4 and keep an eye out for the 5th.

Next Up:  As promised … let’s go kayaking!

© 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

 

 

Nothing Like Springtime In Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park, is mainly situated in Wyoming, but also extends minimally into Montana and Idaho.  While I’ve visited Yellowstone many times in the winter, summer, or fall … I had never been there during the spring season.  Earlier this year, with the company of our good friends Jen and Travis, we decided to do just that.  I have always said that I feel Yellowstone is one of the most diverse of the national parks of the US.  I’ve often referred to it as the “Disneyland” of parks … with lakes, canyons, thermal grounds, hot springs, geysers, valleys, and of course, many species of wildlife.

In the spring, there are less crowds, milder temperatures, emerging grasslands, and wildlife, including the US National Mammal … the American Bison._DSC9334-2

During my winter visit to Yellowstone, I had almost no chance of finding a bear, for they were hibernating in their dens at that time.  So, being the bear fanatic that I am, they were high on my list to find and photograph.  It wasn’t long before we found them too.  However, these were mostly black bears for us on this trip.  This big one seemed to be enjoying its lunch of greens.  🙂DSC_2556Whether black bears or brown bears, the sighting and photograph is always so much more special when eye contact is made.DSC_2534Visiting in the springtime does have its unique advantages including getting to see the spring babies.  Believe it or not, but this was the first time that I had photographed the young “red dogs”.  They were just too cute!DSC_2671They would take advantage every time that they could find their mama standing still to nurse on them, all the while keeping its eye on us.  Have you ever seen a baby bison nurse?  Well, it may look all peaceful in this image, but it’s quite an ordeal.  The newbie nursing peacefully for a short time, then rams its head into its moms underside in order for the milk to come out better.  Tom would give a few sympathy pain expressions for the mom every time that the young ones punched.  LOLDSC_2618-2They call them red dogs due to the coloration they possess when they’re newborn.  Clearly not the traditional bison color._DSC9510-2It was adorable how closely they stayed to moms side most of the time.  The protection of the herd is critical for their survival._DSC9532-2Once in a while they would meet up with another young one in the herd and appear to greet each other … often followed up with some running around together and a few head wrestling moments._DSC9570-2When there are bison around, there are almost always some birds hitchhiking a ride or using their backs as a landing strip.  LOL.  Never did it seem to even phase the bison._DSC9601-2Though bison are the most abundant large mammal in the park, there are also many more species, including the pronghorn antelope.DSC_2588-2I don’t think that I need to tell you how much we squealed with delight when we spotted our first baby pronghorn of the day, which coincidentally, was our first and only.  It was a bit too early for the babies and we were so ecstatic that this momma had hers a bit earlier.  It was by far just the cutest thing ever … such a sweet adorable face, wobbly legs, and it could race around impressingly fast.DSC_2714The bighorn sheep ewes were also spotted on our first day.  OK, so they weren’t the most photogenic subjects I’ve ever shot, with their scruffy spring coat, but hey, we found them grazing on the hillside and they were posing, so why not?  DSC_2695-2OK, so back to some more black bears … this momma sow was spotted near the base of a tree, not far from us.  We wondered what was going on because she seemed so alert to her surroundings.DSC_2794Then we spotted her cub … way up at the top of a very tall tree.  I wish I took an image to show just how high up it was.  To me, it looked like one of those “witches broom” deformities in the tree, but alas, it was this adorable cub.DSC_2910The story went that there was a boar (or two) cruising around the area where the sow and her cub were grazing, so she sent her cub up.  At one point, we could see the boar in two different places, but couldn’t be sure if it was the same one.  I couldn’t believe the patience of the sow and cub and how skilled it was to remain there safely.  That’s about when it climbed up to literally the tip top….DSC_2968We readied our gear, knowing that it went up of course to come down.  Nope, that cub curled itself over the point of the tree top and remained for quite some more time.  This was all during some rainfall and windy conditions.  I was nervous for the little one, yet couldn’t look away.  After mom gave it the “all’s clear” call, it began its descent.DSC_2995It skillfully hung on to the tree circumference as it went down … slow and steady.DSC_3065Along the way, it would savor some insects for some extra nourishment, maybe even lick a few raindrops perhaps.DSC_3071Every so often a break was taken on a convenient branch.  The sow below was getting quite impatient and as it got within her “standing on her hind legs” grapse, she tugged on it and made the arrival on the ground and by her side a quicker one.  Such an adorable experience to witness.  Those bears have amazing instincts for survival.  A boar in the area would most likely try to mate with her and kill the cub in the process.  They were both safe and it was a great morning for sure.DSC_3084When we were visiting Yellowstone earlier this winter, we had so many coyote sightings (including one with them mating).  I was quite surprised that we didn’t see as many on this spring visit.  We did however have one at a very close range that was rolling around … and around … and around paying absolutely no attention to us as we photographed.
_DSC9436-2As I said, this coyote knew that we were there, but was preoccupied in what it was doing.  When it left the area, we walked over to figure out what it was rolling in and saw nothing.  Must have been simply marking its territory.  Such a cool experience._DSC9403Remember, I’m no expert birder, so when I saw this guy, I took images and asked for identification later.  We knew that it was a woodpecker by its behavior of incessant pecking, but didn’t know the species.  It turned out to be, as many of you might already know, the American Three-Toed Woodpecker.  They lack the inner hind toe on each foot and breed further north than any other American woodpecker.  How fun to see._DSC9606-2While photographing the woodpecker who visited with us, we stumbled upon another visitor.  A gorgeous bull elk arrived and grazed on the hillside right next to us.  He already started growing its antlers, which were all covered in velvet.  He still was in the process of shedding his winter coat as well, so he looked a bit scruffy too._DSC9697-2_DSC9668-2Just before we exited the park on that day, we came across our first elk babies of the trip.  they were a bit higher than us on the hillside, so a great shot would have to wait for another day, but it was adorable to see them kiss nose to nose in a tender moment.  Got to love those spots too.  🙂DSC_3446

So our trip to Yellowstone NP in the spring was off to a great start.  Before I end this post, I wanted to share with everyone what I didn’t expect in May in Yellowstone … the weather that we were treated to.  We had weather that wasn’t that much different than our winter visit … rain, hail, sleet, clouds, and snow!  Hayden Valley couldn’t be accessed on several days because Dunraven Pass was closed due to snow and icy conditions.  (Note:  Please pardon these through the windshield images, but I wanted to share the wather shots)IMG_1085Of course, all we had to do was turn a corner and we had sunshine and blue skies as well.  Got to love the variety of weather conditions that we had.  🙂IMG_1086

Next up:  More from Yellowstone NP

© 2016  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

My Owl Fix

I love owls, as many of you know.

In Florida, we have many different types of owls including the burrowing, barn, barred, eastern screech, and the great horned owls.

Out west, they also have many varieties of owls and on this trip we were able to get the usual images of the great horned owl adult.  They are always quite observant to what’s going on in their surroundings, especially when they’re in the protective mode.DSC_2157Why the protective mode?  Well because they had 3 baby owlets nearby in the nest.  How absolutely adorable are they?DSC_2139As we photographed them, they were clearly on the alert themselves.DSC_2152Though we were out looking for owls, I couldn’t help but turn my head when I saw this little cutie fly by.  The western tanager is a beautiful bird and this male was flying to and from the thick brush, making it difficult to get a clear shot.  I found it interesting to know that the reddish head color actually comes from its diet … and it’s the most northern breeding tanager out there.DSC_2120Also brightly colored and flying around is the American goldfinch, which is the only member in its family to molt in the spring as well as the fall.DSC_2172Now, the main reason we were exploring this area was to find some long-eared owls.  We never found the adults on this trip, but we found something even better … 3 young long-eared owlets.  I honestly don’t think that they get much cuter.DSC_2197There were actually several families of LEOs around.  Some a bit older than the others, as shown below.DSC_2215This young owlet was perched in the tree staring at us … actually found us first, which I imagine they all did.  LOL.  The sweetest face ever … reminds me of the Gremlins from the movie.  Evidence of the area being the hunting grounds for these owls was evident by the kills sporadically strewn around the grounds.DSC_2219OK, so I got my owl fix this evening.  Or at least until the next time I’m in the area.  🙂

Next Up:  Heading into Yellowstone NP

© 2016  TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com