My World That Surrounds Me

In late fall/early winter, the Grand Valley area of western Colorado plays host to a variety of migrating birds.  Of course, one of my favorites are the sandhill cranes.  It’s not unusual to see groups of 1,000 or more in the early morning or pre-dusk hours, as they roost in the farmlands.  Mostly we see adults, though sometimes you get a few teenagers.

DSC_6171-Edit-2Whenever I see sandhill cranes, I’m immediately taken back to one of my first encounters of fields of them, back at Creamer’s Field in Fairbanks, AK.  There’s few sights or sounds as beautiful as congregating and celebrating sandhills.  Don’t even get me going as to how fabulous they are when courting.  🙂DSC_6223-Edit-Edit-2Home in Colorado now, I’ve had my share of “new” birds.  Now this doesn’t mean that these birds are “lifers” for me, but to have them share my immediate surroundings, has been a thrill.  One of them that I take great joy in viewing is the Steller’s Jay.  Such attitude it seems to possess with that fancy crested ‘do … I always stop to grab a shot or two when I see them.DSC_6503-Edit-2DSC_6516-2Often hanging out with the jays are the Clark’s Nutcrackers … also in the jay family, they’re quite social and beautiful as well.DSC_6384-2DSC_6413-2To say that I’ve seen my fair share of the Canada Goose is an understatement.  Some days it seems as though every field or body of water is filled with them.  I’ve delighted in watching and yes, hearing them as they arrive to any given lake or such.  Calling out, organizing themselves in that V-formation that they’re known for, as well as performing acrobatic maneuvers as they approach their landing … it’s all been fascinating to be part of.DSC_7463-Edit-Edit-2Now perhaps I’ve seen snow geese before, but if I did I probably didn’t realize what they were.  The snow goose has been a thrill to observe as well, though for the most part, I’ve found them to be a bit frustrating to photograph at a close proximity.  LOL.  Oh well, I’m sure that they don’t care.DSC_8480-2One day, though, they treated me to some nice captures.  Just wished that they spread themselves out a bit. DSC_8500-Edit-Edit-2I just loved the way they swam about, walked the shoreline, preened themselves, and took floating naps on the waters surface.  So very beautiful they were._DSC3771-Edit-2Not a stranger to me was the pied-billed grebes which I see regularly in Colorado as well as I did in Florida.DSC_8671-2When the white-crowned sparrow is in the area, you cannot ignore or mistake its song, movement, or sight.  Though I’ve seen them in FL occasionally, they seem to be everyday sightings here.  DSC_8694-Edit-Edit-2The Western scrub jay, which is now referred to as the Woodhouse’s scrub jay, is another bird that I’ve taken a delight to.  This particular one was taken on a very cold day, so it was a bit fluffed up, resembling more of a mountain bluebird!  LOLDSC_8843-Edit-2Now all of these birds already shared doesn’t mean that there aren’t any 4-legged wildlife out in the area.  How about this one?  Honestly, it was one of the most beautiful (or handsome) coyotes I had ever seen.  ❤DSC_8740-2One last look back at me before it trotted off into the wilderness.  Loved it!DSC_8745-2Cousins to the bighorn sheep, only a smaller version, the desert bighorn sheep are always a fun way to spend a day.  By now, the females have most likely dropped their young, so this shot reminds me that I need to return to the scene to check things out again.DSC_9072-2Of course this area is home to many herds of mule deer.  This particular guy had one of the most fascinating, though quite odd, set of antlers.  Has anyone ever seen anything like that before?  I mean, within the mule deer?DSC_6298-2About an hour or so east of Fruita is the town of Rifle, CO, home to Rifle Falls State Park.  Rifle Falls is a triple waterfall amidst the natural stone formations found in the area.  So unique and quite a thrill to photograph when the frost forms on the accompanying rocks and vegetation._DSC3697-2_DSC3699-2So, I hope that you enjoyed a peek into the beauty that surrounds me in western Colorado.  As I now enter a 3rd season here, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  🙂

Next Up:  The San Juan Mountains

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Advertisements

Owls, Owls, Everywhere

One of my favorite things to photograph in Florida are the burrowing owls.  Quite tiny, but quite social in their behavior they can entertain the viewer for hours!  Usually I stick close to home, but in 2017, I ventured out to a few new locations to photograph these cuties.  So join me as I share another set of images.  🙂

When I first arrived to this particular location, the sun was already up for a bit and the owls were quite active.  On these few days, I was treated to both the yellow and dark eyed babies.  Though yellow eyes are the most traditional, both are photogenic to me.

DSC_4413-EditDSC_5072At these burrows, there were some still in the burrows, not quite ready for “prime time”, but there were plenty of babies to keep me happy as well.  You can tell the babies by their feathers on their belly … so downy looking and creamy, they remind me of a nice drink of Kahlua!  LOL.  They are also very downy towards their legs, which remind me of petticoats or bloomers.DSC_4893They might be a bit more jumpier too and seemingly always on alert.  They scurry from burrow entrances, of which there can commonly be 2 or 3 … though sometimes simply one.DSC_4878They seem to be quite intrigued by each other and often seem to challenge each other … in a playful way, of course.DSC_4625Curiosity is never more evident than when they are quite young.  Always poking around at things they, like our own young, seem to get into everything!  I feel sometimes like I can sense their mind wheels turning as they process this world outside of the burrow, where they usually spend their first few weeks.DSC_4862Quite demanding for the attention of their mom and dad, I know that they’re looked upon as “annoying” from time to time.  Running over to an adult is common.  Squeaking and pecking at the adult is I’m sure their way of trying to communicate their needs…. Food … Comfort … Attention!DSC_4817Early on the parents will catch food for the young owls and assist in feeding them.  After some time, they still hunt for them, but they encourage independence by allowing the siblings to tear up and consume their food on their own.DSC_4813Nothing gets by these little buggers wither!  They kept constant vigil to everything going on around them.  Of course, that will serve them well as they grow up and ready for their life on their ownDSC_4980But until then, they seek more attention, food, grooming, play, etc. from their parents.DSC_4843DSC_4830Then there’s more staring down something … a sibling, an ant, a bee, an airplane, a piece of trash … doesn’t matter, they’re all of interest to this little owl.DSC_5006Of all of the entertaining things that these little ones do, NOTHING is more entertaining that the “head tilt” maneuver that they perform.  Sometimes it’s just a little one … sometimes it’s the full tilt …sometimes the body bends with it as well.  LOL.  DSC_4482Life at the burrow can be a bit boring I presume …. 😉DSC_4952Testing of the wings is another fun time while observing them.  Of course, it’s all about baby steps, but they all learn to take flight at their own pace … and in their own way.  DSC_4653Looks like this guy is ready to go … just like me.  Hope that you enjoyed the burrowing owls of Florida.  While we do have them out in Colorado, they’re not full time residents and therefore, they’re a bit more shy and secretive.  Hope to find them out there one day.

Next Up:  Let’s meet up high in the mountains

© 2017  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

Back to Mesa County

First of all, sorry for the long hiatus from the blog posts … 2 months to be exact!  How in the world was that even possible?  I can’t even say that I had a good excuse.  I think I was just running on overdrive for some time and I have to admit, I’m having challenges in keeping focused.  Not much is the same routine since we moved out to Colorado.  Not that we have any regrets at all, far from it in fact, just working through the adjustments.

That being said, let’s head back up to the Colorado National Monument, which is precisely 4 miles from our home.  We like to head up there every now and then because the views are spectacular._DSC2900-EditOf course, besides the valley views, I always hope to find some of the desert bighorn sheep which reside there.  Desert bighorns are a smaller subspecies of the Rocky Mountain bighorns, though I’m not sure I would know the difference without them standing next to each other.  We’ve been pretty fortunate with our sightings of these beautiful animals.DSC_9468Sometimes we find them just off the roadside (as in the above above), but not always.  It’s always fun when they investigate us as much as we do them.  DSC_9497They are quite intriguing to me … as they have such big beautiful brown eyes, which stare intently while I’m photographing.  Usually, they just stand still, except for continuing to chew on some recently grazed edibles … and they stare … and stare … and stare some more.  LOLDSC_9501-EditOf course, the Monument and other areas are also filled with their fair share of rabbits.  In fact, we find them grazing in our yard most mornings.DSC_0403Predators, such as hawks are quite common as well.  While in Florida, our most predominant hawk was the red-shouldered hawk, but in CO you won’t find any of those.  What you will find predominantly are red-tailed hawks.  DSC_0240-EditSongbirds, such as the western meadowlark are commonly seen along the sides of the lesser traveled roads ….DSC_0416-Edit-Edit… as well as the horned larks.DSC_0431On day during the summer, we were out and about in the area and came across a small field of beautiful sunflowers.  Of course, I had to check them out and grab a few photographs.DSC_0106-EditDSC_0127DSC_0177-EditDSC_0164-EditYep, the area has lots to offer … hiking, biking, photography, you name it.  So many places to get lost (well hopefully not lost – LOL) and off the beaten track for some solitude and “alone with nature” time._DSC2905-EditCan’t believe that it’s almost the 365th day of 2017!  Where does the time go?  I guess it’s true …. time flies when you’re having fun!  As we approach a brand new year – 2018 – I want to wish everyone best wishes for that new year … and adventure, health, happiness, and love.

Next Up:  From my final Florida shoot in 2017.

© 2017  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

An Environmental Success Story

In early spring, we took a quick trip out to Colorado.  We arrived into Denver in the darkness of the late night, so stayed overnight near the airport.  We decided that we would check out the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, not far from downtown Denver.

Much of the land has transitioned over the years from farmland to being used by the army to produce chemical weapons, and later their dumping grounds for the weaponry developed there.  It was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) and designated a “Superfund” site, being considered an environmental disaster.  After 23 years and $2.1 billion dollars in the clean-up efforts, the remediation and clean-up work was considered complete.

Consisting of currently 15,988 acres of national wildlife refuge, it’s one of the largest urban refuges in the USA.  The complex is home to 330 species, including the endangered black-footed ferrets, which were re-introduced there.  One of the species that was influential to the refuge’s existence is the bald eagle.  DSC_4221I had often seen images of the bison there with either the backdrops of the Rocky Mountains or downtown Denver.  I hoped that we could get some of the same.  Sure enough, before too long, we came across 2 bison grazing in the grasslands.DSC_3655Further along, there were more.  I couldn’t help but wonder if those bison appreciated the wildlife refuge, where they could roam freely, with those amazing scenic landscapes.DSC_3801-EditA few of the areas are fenced off a bit, which made those images a bit annoying, but it sure was a beautiful day and the bison didn’t seem to care.DSC_3856At one point, we encountered a herd of bison, roaming from one side of the road  to another, and often, back again.  It made traveling down the road a bit challenging.  LOL_DSC2119These bison seemed a bit more skittish than others that I’ve encountered before.  At one point, I got out of the opposite door of our vehicle to get a better image … well outside safe distances for photographing bison.  To my surprise, I startled them and them stammered a bit, to which I quickly got back in the car.  The last thing I wanted to do was alter their behavior.DSC_3970DSC_3881-EditTrue to natural bison behavior, they preferred to hang out together in the herd.  There were a few young ones, which we would observe nursing on their moms.IMG_3286Of course, the Arsenal is more than bison.  Though we didn’t see the black-footed ferrets (except the ones in the exhibit viewing area), but we did see LOTS of prairie dogs!DSC_4128A good variety of birds were seen as well.  The northern flickr, which is a favorite of mine, was spotted in a nearby tree.  It didn’t feel like cooperating for the camera lens, so I left it alone and kept driving.DSC_4077The western meadowlarks were out in force as well, though fairly erractic in flight and a bit further out than I’m used to in Florida (our eastern meadowlarks, of course).DSC_4206Always a thrill for me to witness observe, and photograph were the red-tailed hawks.  Several times while we were there, a few circled in the thermals above us.DSC_3723-EditDSC_3711-EditNear the waters within the refuge, we spotted lots of birds, though most were a bit further out as well.  The Barrows goldeneye in flight was a fun subject.DSC_4092The Canada Goose was present in pretty good concentrations and some were seemingly nesting along the roadside as well.  This one let me get low and close for a head shot.DSC_4091-EditYes, we enjoyed our time at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge … where it’s living proof that good things can happen at bad places … for both the benefit of man and nature.  🙂_DSC2140As we were driving away, one of the MANY prairie dogs was spotted checking us out.  It seemed to be saying … “leaving so soon”.  LOL  Ok, maybe not!  if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend to visit this urban gem.DSC_4295Next Up:  Back to the wetlands of Florida

© 2017  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

Wetlands, Preserves, & Yards … Oh My!

Taking a break from the snowy conditions of the Alaskan arctic, let’s return to the warmer, more humid climate of southern Florida.  Sure we have beaches, sand, and sun … but we also have winter visitors … not just of the human kind, but also our bird friends come to visit for a bit.  Some also court, mate, and raise their young too.

When they arrive, they do so in their Sunday finest … all dolled up and ready to impress.  No other time do they possess such beautiful breeding colors and perform such elegant ways, designed to tantalize the ladies.  One of the best examples of undergoing a metamorphis as such are the cattle egret.  Once an “ordinary white bird”, they become striking with that red eye, multi-colored bright beak, exaggerated coloration, and that fabulous breeding plumage._DSC4777Not native to Florida, though becoming quite popular, is the swamp hen.  A bit similar in appearance to the purple gallinule, though its colors are muted and beak consists of less colors too.  Still they possess a bit of that iridescence in those feathers when the sun hits it just right._DSC4824Still one of the most elegant is the great egret._DSC4912Though not as entertaining, the grebes also possess that cuteness factor … especially when they’re all fluffed up._DSC4957In Florida, it’s not all birds that hang out in the wetlands and preserves.  Again, though not native, we get our fair share of iguanas.  I used to get quite upset seeing them, especially when they would hang out near the birds, but in reality, they’re more vegetarians and not necessarily after wildlife.  Also, look at how amazingly photogenic they are … so prehistoric-looking, so full of details and features that could be the subject of a macro lens setup as well.  We even get them in our yard!_DSC4937Other reptiles live in the wetlands too.  This poor snake, fighting for its life, after being snatched from the grasses by the great blue heron … one of the most skillful hunters of frogs, snakes, and fish alike._DSC0234It’s hard to miss the red cardinals when they’re around.  On this particular day, there was one female, as shown below ….._DSC2027… flying around with not just one, but two, male cardinals chasing it.  Clearly one of them was her favorite beau too.  Look at how rich this guys coloring is!  This was not enhanced via any processing color, but rather straight out of the camera._DSC2051It’s always a thrill to find the sora out and about looking for something to eat along the soggy landscape.  Usually the sighting doesn’t last too long, as it generally returns into the plants rather quickly._DSC2082Though I’m not much of a “small bird”er, even I can’t resist the pretty little ones when they finally stand still, in the open, and pose for me.  🙂_DSC8644The tri-colored herons are one of the most striking birds when in their breeding plumage.  That bright red eye, deep blue bill, the beautiful tuft of white feathers out the back of their head, and their beautiful body feathers make the photographer or observer stop and look. _DSC8563The dance of courtship that they, and other birds, perform is a treat to watch as well.  Preening one’s feathers, poking around at the tidy nest, and rhythmically moving up skyward, then down repeatedly … so amazing to watch!_DSC8568Speaking of beautiful show-offs, what better example of that is the peacock, with their extremely long feathers, all patterned with designs that look like eyes, as they drag them behind them like a bride with her wedding dress train.  Though this guys not quite excited enough to lift them in a display fashion, it’s still quite beautiful.  This guy was photographed while making his way through my friends front yard.  I have some chickens down the block who wander through my yard … this guy can come visit me too if he wants._DSC2255So these were just a few of the many avian visitors to south Florida.  As the breeding season is over, not all, but many leave the area.  Don’t blame them … it gets way too hot down here … I sometimes leave too.  🙂

Next Up:  Anyone want to go to Yellowstone NP in the winter?

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

Nature in Florida

January in Florida doesn’t necessarily offer much to make you feel like it’s winter, except for the promise of birds to photograph.  One doesn’t have to travel far to partake in their beauty, especially when you wake up early to catch them in that early morning sweet light._DSC4487If you’re wondering where the birds are hanging out … all that you have to do is follow their path inflight.  This roseate spoonbill, of course, revealed their location._DSC4625To our surprise, we didn’t find just a few, but hundreds of birds foraging in the waters and even all lined up on the boardwalk handrails.  Not just spoonbills either … white pelicans, white herons, ibis, tri-colored heron, great blue herons … one big happy family._DSC4783Of course, the roseate spoonbills hold the most interest for everyone.  I mean, how could they not?  Flamingos, they are not, though you almost always hear someone mistake them as such.  All dressed up in the beginnings of their breeding plumage, with their reflections of varying degrees of pink and white effectively doubling their beauty into the waters below._DSC4604Perhaps it’s just me, but they seem to me to have such fun personalities.  This one seems to actually be smiling.  🙂_DSC4636A walk around the wetlands yields many other sightings, including this European starling, known for its aggressive behavior in bullying other cavity dwelling birds out of their home.  Until this day, I never noticed how their markings were so beautiful._DSC4900It’s always fun to watch the beautiful and skilled green heron hunt for dinner, or in this case, probably lunch.  The stillness of the water almost makes it for a “mirror, mirror, on the wall” moment._DSC4971Also delightful to witness were Mr. & Mrs Hooded Merganser, who went swimming on past us.  _DSC4510Off to another location, we find the brightly colored, unmistakeable, male cardinal, with its red crest and feathers contrasting beautifully with that green foliage in the background._DSC5023Its mate, while not as red or brightly colored, was not far away.  I just loved the way that it was hanging out in the palm fronds, keeping an eye on everything going on._DSC5246Where there are birds and outdoor feeders, of course there are other critters trying to take  advantage of an easy meal.  This brave squirrel was running up and down not wanting to miss anything.  I just hoped that it wouldn’t jump out at me … LOL._DSC5031Then came a visitor who was a bit more assertive in trying to get a hand out of food.  The raccoons have been know to approach humans (yes, a terrible lesson that humans have taught them, much like the squirrels) … I’ve had one in the past tap my bottom as I sat at a picnic table years ago, giving me a big hint of what it wanted.  Of course, I didn’t indulge.  _DSC5061This particular raccoon put on its cutest face while it begged and pleaded for something tasty.  Here it even looks like it was praying for something good.  🙂_DSC5176Before long it found where a secret stash of treat were hidden in the log.  BUSTED!_DSC5130One of the most beautifully colored birds with an array of colors like that from an artists palette is the painted bunting – male, that is._DSC5537Though the female is beautiful in her own right, she lacks the variety of colors.  If one didn’t know better, they would never even think that they were related to the male version.  Reminds me of the how different the red-winged blackbirds are – males versus females._DSC5340Alas though the males again look like when they were created, a child was asked to color it.  So very beautiful.  These birds are winter visitors here in south Florida and will eventually move on with their migratory plans._DSC5579Much less colorful, though also marked quite nicely, is the thrasher … love those specks on its breast._DSC5589Of course, there will be lots more wintering birds and those breeding and nesting opportunities and blog posts, so stay tuned.

Up Next:  More Polar Bears!!

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Soaring With Eagles

Taking a break from the polar bears … well pardon the pun, to a “polar” opposite subject … from bears to birds, of Florida, no less.

Am I the only one out there that has difficulty getting the camera in gear after a big photo trip?  Seems like every year after I return from Alaska, I cull and process my images for endless hours.  Combine that task with the holiday events that seem endless as well, once the last quarter of the year arrives and I guess it’s a bit overwhelming.  So this year in early January, I made it a priority to get out and see what my home state had to offer.

This little loggerhead shrike might look all sweet and fluffy, but it’s actually a fierce predator that has been known for executing its unfortunate prey by peircing them on the barb wire that often is readily available in its environment.  I remember one year we found one in the middle of a dirt road that we were driving on, dazed but alive, Tom rescued it from a certain untimely death.  I was a bit concerned that it would use its sharp beak to impale Tom’s hand, but it didn’t as Tom gently placed it in a bushy tree nearby, where its partner came over to it.  What an awesome feeling to know that we (actually Tom) did something good.  Yes, he’s always the one placing the crossing turtle on the side of the road it was traveling to … giving it a hand as well._DSC4199-2Many of our sightings were of Florida’s resident bald eagles, hence the “Soaring with Eagles” blog post title._DSC4215-2We photograph lots of bald eagles in Alaska during our travels, so I’m always quite a bit fascinated by them.  Everyone expects bald eagles in Alaska, or migratory ones in eastern Washington state or other known migratory paths.  Few know that Florida actually has the most bald eagles in the lower 48 states.  On top of that … ours are primarily residents, not just migratory. _DSC4438-2Whenever I’m traveling in my car from south Florida to the north, I can almost always count on spotting on them along the way, to which a “BALDIES!” scream comes out of me.  LOL._DSC4219-2Hard to believe that these iconic birds, our national bird and symbol, were once so endangered and their numbers were so few.  It’s an incredible story about recovery once restrictions and protections are implemented.  It makes the “doubters” of recovery efforts have difficulty defending that stance.  _DSC4366-2The earlier images were all adult bald eagles, which sport that iconic white head and white tail feathers.  The next two images show the bald eagles in their sub-adult phase, clearly lacking that fully white head and fully white tail.  In Florida, if someone tells you that they saw a golden eagle, it was probably a sub-adult baldie.

_DSC4369-2
I don’t know why, but I always find the sub-adult feathers quite fascinating and beautiful.  Of course, whether fully adult, sub-adult, or even young eaglets, their talons are always amazing and mesmerizing to me._DSC4394-2Probably my favorite thing about bald eagles is their call.  Once you hear it once, you’ll never forget it.  _DSC4266-2Of course, our time in the wilderness wasn’t just about the eagles … but also other birds, such as another favorite of mine, the sandhill cranes.  Flying over in (a sort of) V-formation is a thrill to witness and of course their bugling when in flight, in landing, in take-off, or in dance, sends a big smile across my face._DSC4207-2_DSC4243-2Sightings of eastern phoebe are also common along the way.  So cute, aren’t they?  They are also quite fascinating too.  Did you know that an eastern phoebe sings a perfect song without having to “practice” it?  Also, what was the first bird ever to be banded well over a century ago?  Yep, the eastern phoebe._DSC4392-2Now, how could a day be complete with a “coot convention” sighting?  LOL_DSC4345-2So overall, it was a fun weekend of birding in central Florida and of course, soaring with the eagles.  One more beauty to share._DSC4367-2Hope that everyone enjoyed the blog post.

Next up:  More local birding adventures … from Florida … it’s what’s for winter, after all.

© 2016  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography

 

Homer-Bound

The Russian River Campground is an interesting place to stay when in Cooper Landing, Alaska.  It is home to the notorious “combat fly fishing” for salmon, trout, and other varieties.  It’s also a place where the photographers can find bears also fishing in those rivers.  While we did find brown bears again on this trip, it was only one afternoon, and we really wanted to say our goodbyes to them.  🙂  So we visited the river via the boardwalk for a final walk.  We took our time once we arrived at the confluence of the Russian River and the Kenai River, just down a bit of the ferry.
_DSC2944

It was a stunning morning and once again we were treated to the early morning sunlight peering through the trees along the boardwalk.  It was a bit cold this morning and foggy as well._DSC2970 We patiently sat down for awhile at the stairs and chatted with some of the fishermen.  We received various stories of theories as to where the bears were … none of which were authenticated nor pleasant.  I still hoped that they would return one last time for us.  In the meanwhile, a big group of common mergansers came by.  I was quite fascinated at their “team effort” in chasing down and beaching of some small minnows and smelt for their dining pleasure.  I had never witnessed it before!DSC_6022

The fireweed was still in bloom and had already reached the end of the stalk … meaning winter was simply about 6 weeks away.  It was only August 21st!_DSC3009

Harlequin ducks were also out and about in the Russian River.

DSC_6051

When we decided to make our way back on the boardwalk, we encountered this sighting, which usually means only one thing … bear(s)!  I eagerly made my way to their spotting._DSC3014 But it was for not, as it was simply a bald eagle that had flow in and the fishermen were simply admiring it and taking some cell phone shots as well.  Dang!DSC_6076 On the way towards Homer, we stopped a few times for photographs, but we were equally anxious to get there and check in with Beluga Air and Dave for our Katmai bear viewing the next day._DSC3042 It’s so beautiful to photograph the fireweed standing tall and proud in various fields.IMG_2901 _DSC5946 Once we arrived at our final destination for the evening, Homer, we ventured to the end of the “spit” and took in the beauty of Kachemak Bay and glaciers within the state park across the Cook Inlet waters.DSC_6159 IMG_2914We visited the Beluga Slough area, which is a “must do” annually, though we didn’t see the sandhill cranes like in years past.

_DSC3131 We also visited Bishop’s Beach and built our traditional cairn … in celebration of our upcoming wedding anniversary.  Each year we build this feature containing 1 stone for every year we’ve been together … plus 1 more for good luck … so this year it was a cairn of 19!  It wouldn’t be the same to not do it, though I’m wondering how much more stable we can make it during the next 5-10 years!  LOL_DSC3124

We then checked in for our bear trip which initiates the next day … weather permitting, as always.  Let’s hope for it to be a good morning.  🙂

Next up:  Katmai or bust ….

© 2015  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

 

A Burrowing Owl Encore!

It’s been some time since the last burrowing owl post and there’s so many images from 2015, so I though that I would share a few more and give some final thoughts on them as well.

I just love it when they are perched on something which offers me an interesting background, especially when I can produce a bokeh which adds to the shot.  The blue sky is perfect when filtered through the leaves of a nearby tree.

20150520-DSC_4181

Though these are siblings, they have very different eye colors.  Both are quite beautiful.  the yellow ones are piercing when the sunlight casts itself on them just so, but the brownish yellow are so different that I find it hard to look away.  Either way, I love them both!

20150526-DSC_2504

Yes, they sure love to launch themselves into flight, as well as jumping around quite a bit.  I just LOVE when they focus on their landings … eyes on the prize and talons out ready for the grab.

20150520-DSC_4436

They run from burrow to burrow when they have more than one entrance to home.

20150520-DSC_4378 20150526-DSC_2473 20150526-DSC_2474

To me, the main thing that I want the owls to do while I’m photographing them is to act natural and do the things that owls do.  I don’t want them to be preoccupied by my presence.  I prefer to see the eyes, even if just caught through the feathers of its wings.

20150526-DSC_2470

A favorite activity for these owls was the “attack” and wrestling of each other … reminded me of a worldwide wrestling event.  LOL

20150526-DSC_2469 20150526-DSC_2476

These burrowing owls are very social with each other and they “kiss”, groom, and “canoodle” each other quite often.  Looks so sweet.  🙂

20150526-DSC_2495

Of course, they shed their feathers on occasion, which totally becomes a favorite “toy” to play with.

20150520-DSC_4294

So is flying around the burrow, landing on perches, etc.  This year was unusual because in years past, I had seen the owls hunting a bit and feeding, but I saw none of that this year.  Of course, they were well fed and would expel their pellets (remnants of their undigested material) quite frequently.  🙂

20150520-DSC_4249

In this particular burrow, sometimes the perch became quite crowded!

20150526-DSC_2348

These owls are pretty much busy all day, and they get tired just like we do.  Like some people, some could almost fall asleep anywhere!  LOL

20150519-DSC_1992

Can’t wait to see what 2016 holds in regards to photographing the owls of south Florida!  I hope that you enjoyed them as much as I did.  🙂

Next Up:  Let’s go back to ALASKA!!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography