Sometimes Dreams Do Come True

Happy Holidays everyone!

It seems appropriate that having spent 5 days amongst the polar bears that I would have not 1 or 2 blog posts from that fabulous adventure … but 5!  I mean, there was just so much to experience there, so many new friends (both polar bears and human), and my goodness, so many photographs to share.  If you haven’t seen the previous posts, take a few moments (OK, it may actually take a few moments longer) to get yourself caught up.  I’ll include the links at the end of this post … #5 of 5.

I had always dreamed of seeing real live polar bears when I was very young.  Over time of course, I was fortunate enough to see them in zoos, but that wasn’t enough for me.  Little did I know then, that decades later, I would become addicted to BEARS … all kinds.  Maybe it was already in my DNA, who knows.  LOL.

I, as in solo, flew off to Alaska in late September of 2015 … just 2 weeks after returning home from there from an adventure out there with Tom.  It was crazy and I was feeling a bit crazier.  How could I do that without Tom?  My trusted adventure partner and personal sherpa … OK, any that knows me knows that I’m not joking.  However, I did, and I never looked back, then or now, and have the time of my life.  Five days in Kaktovik, Alaska … 8 trips out in the Beaufort Sea of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, photographing polar bears, from a relatively small boat.  They were everything that I hoped … and more!_DSC2594 We observed lone polar bears as they roamed the arctic landscape.  We also were treated to sows with their young cubs.  I found it fascinating when they would encounter other bears.  In this instance, I believe that the bear in the water was familiar with the sow …perhaps an older offspring from the past.  The cub was quite interested in playing with it, but mom would always place herself in between the cub and other bear._DSC2673 _DSC2679 _DSC2701A few times the encounter seemed like it was becoming a bit tense.  I was so engaged in the interaction, but make no mistake about it, I didn’t want to see any fights.  Yes, I’m that one.  Haha._DSC2712 Mom and the bear would wrestle around in the water, while the young cub obediently waited on the shore._DSC2738 They reminded me of dogs playing in the surf or anywhere else for that matter.  There was a lot of snarling, teeth flossing, claws bared …_DSC2861… but like most brawls, there wasn’t much else but playful fighting … or perhaps a play for dominance and lesson teaching.
_DSC2859 All the while, the cub observed from afar and would call out to its mom.  Of course, she ignored its calls._DSC3054 Eventually, she would exit the water and join her cub.  Before long though, the other bear would come close to shore and off the cub would go to play or defend its mom, we really couldn’t tell._DSC2946 Once again, mom would escort the bear back into the water._DSC0642When it was safe to proceed, she began to travel the landscape again, with her cub along her side.  Seems like the cub wanted to still interact with the other bear though._DSC3311Just as any good mom would do, she them gave the cub a little nibble in the backside to teach it a lesson.  LOL
_DSC3142 These bears would find just about anything they could to play with, eat, or entertain themselves.  _DSC3682 While we were positioned in an open boat, the bears would share the waters with us.  Though they are excellent swimmers, we were quite safe and always kept a respectable distance.  I just loved how entertaining they were and how many positions that they could get themselves in.  Look at the size of those pads!_DSC2130 _DSC2106Whale blubber made an excellent toy to play with … the nastier, the better.
_DSC2304
As always, I became obsessed by the size of their feet and the beauty of their pads.  As opposed to brown bears, these bears had more distinct pads … better for photography even._DSC2072 The real beauty of them though was their movement on the land.  So determined in their walk._DSC3395 Again, the interactions with other bears that they encountered seemed to be calm and even at times playful.  _DSC3338 When I was told that we had to get back to shore on our last trip, I felt that old familar feeling that I can only describe as only ….. NOOOOOO! …. followed by incessant shutter clicking.  As if the thousands I had already taken weren’t enough.  😦_DSC2758 Once we waited for our van to take us from the shore to the inn for the last time, I saw something that was so incredibly appropriate.  A rainbow positioned just perfectly behind a whale bone on the snowy landscape.  It was a sign … our trip was over … but to me also was a sign to me that I would return one day.  🙂IMG_0156 Even our departure was exciting.  Though I had secretly (OK, maybe not so secretly) hoped that our flight would be unable to make it in to pick us up, there it was taxiing down the runway, which double as the road, to pick us up.  Dang! IMG_0045 As were were loading up for our return flight to Fairbanks, I still didn’t want to leave.  But ultimately we had to … the 4 of us and 4 more Canadian photographers shared a pleasant flight back to the big city.  See, it’s all relative in Alaska.IMG_0092 Yes, it was a fabulous trip to the arctic … the literal end of the land … for these amazing polar bears.  Our group was fantastic and I still keep in touch with each of them, as well as several of my new friends from Canada.  Amazing how photography bonds people and makes the world a much smaller place.  It is my hope that my photographs and stories shared in this and the other 4 blog posts from this amazing adventure serve to keep others informed about the polar bears and their fight for survival.  It’s up to us to insure that our children, grandchildren, and for many more generations have the opportunity to know the joys of polar bears … yes, up close and personal like I did.  🙂harshaj_20151005_191-31-100As promised, here are the links for the other blog posts shared:

Part 1:     http://www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/im-dreaming-of-a-white-bear-polar-bear-that-is/

Part 2:     http://www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/sun-rays-water-play/

Part 3:     http://www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/adding-a-dash-of-snow/

Part 4:     http://www.tnwaphotography.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/an-arctic-celebration/

© 2016  TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

The Deering’s Fall Equinox Sunrise

Water … it’s one of the benefits of living in south Florida … especially when you’re referring to the waters of the boat basin.  Any sunrise at the Deering Estate can be a special one.  It’s a fabulous place that offers royal plam tree-lined entrance from the vast bay waters into the boat basin … offering shelter and calm waters for the boats.  Usually once a month, Miami-Dade parks opens up the estate just in time to get set up for a sunrise photography shoot.  Now, the area is still closed for about another 4 hours, so it’s prime time.  Just a limited number of photographers, unlimited number of mosquitos and no-see-ems, and the chance to watch the sun rise during the fall equinox, directly in the middle of the basin entrance._dsc0841Of course, you also need some help from the clouds, which seemed to be a challenge on this day.  Who forgot to order the clouds for this shoot?  LOL.  That said, we had some fabulous still waters for near perfect reflections._dsc0845On this day, it also seemed to offer deeper colors to the left, so that’s where I tended to shoot.  Why not?_dsc0848Before long, the rays of the soon-to-be sun were shining brightly.  It was so glorious to witness.  Between getting lost in the beauty of nature and uttering unmentionables at the no-see-ums in particular, sometimes I would forget to shoot._dsc0867_dsc0877Then all of a sudden a SUP’er (stand up paddle boarder) showed up.  Thankfully I had a bit of a zoom on (plus the benefit of cropping obviously) to show his silhouette against the golden sky and waters at that perspective._dsc0922Shortly later, I was back to shooting the horizon, with the golden yellows sharing center stage with some oranges popping through._dsc0925The eventually some pinks and blues in the clouds to the left._dsc0938Of course, out to the left at the entrance of the basin is a bird rookery, so we could hear them, as well as a quite vocal red-shouldered hawk in the trees behind us calling out.  Flocks of birds would move across the landscape in the far distance as well._dsc0945Of course, like all sunrise (as well as sunset) opportunities, they are quite brief and fleeting.  So before I left I took one last image of the backlit clouds out on the horizon.  Gosh, it’s a very early hour to get up to arrive there in time, but with scenes like these, it makes it all worth it._dsc0987-hdrFor those who have never had the chance to visit the Deering Estate, this is what it looks like.  Prime real estate for sure, fabulous mansion, with the most incredible views.  _dsc1052All I have to do from here is turn 180 degrees around the basin view again.  Can’t imagine how spectacular it would have been to live here.  🙂_dsc0984Next Up:  Since it’s winter … let’s finish with a winter wonderland!  Think polar bears. 🙂

© 2016  TNWA Photography

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

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