My Walden Adventure

So, I had always heard about Walden, CO … a small town in Jackson County.  It’s other claim to fame is the self-proclaimed title of the “Moose Capital of Colorado”, boosting hundreds of them.  I certainly hoped that we would see some moose, but our purpose on this trip was not the moose, but rather an Endangered Species, but more on that in the next blog post.

So off we went, my good friend Amy and I, on our adventure.  It was my first trip there, so I had no idea what to expect.  It was about a 4+ hr drive, but with us, it tends to take longer.  You guessed it … lots to see along the way, therefore lots of photo stops.  LOL

It wasn’t long before we started seeing lots of deer … often crossing the road in front of us, but sometimes just hanging out on the snow covered landscape along the way.

850_1214It wasn’t just the deer either … we came across several groups of wild turkeys.  It was such a cool sight to see this tom turkey chasing one of his ladies.  LOL850_1295-EditThe herds of elk were much more elusive and stayed relatively higher except for a herd that was crossing a field down low.850_1375One of my favorite sightings is a northern harrier (as some of you know) so when I saw these two fly by, soaring over the field, I was thrilled.  Funny, but to me they almost seem to be holding hands … or should I say … wings.  ❤500_9443Other birds witnessed along the way were the ever abundant horned larks …500_9506… and a personal favorite of mine, the American dipper.  500_9410Once we arrived into Walden, we drove around the area to see what we could see.  Canada geese were plentiful everywhere, and it was quite a thrill to see several northern pintails.500_9517In addition to that there were also northern shovelers… so very pretty.500_9782Pied-billed grebes were also plentiful … and they were sporting their breeding plumage.500_9927Then the white pelicans flew in and sort of stole the show.  In Florida, we got our share of white pelicans, as well as brown pelicans, but we never got the white pelicans in their breeding plumage.  See the horn on their bill?  That is present when they are ready to breed and then afterwards they lose them.500_9732The pelicans worked with much effort and speed to feed in the waters.500_9887Probably one of the more interesting observations with these pelicans was the interaction between 3 of them.  One was clearly in the lead and when it would change course, the two immediately following changed course.  The two following would also get quite aggressive with each … challenging and snapping beaks.500_0182Finally, one of the two grabbed the first one by the neck and thrashed it left to right and then eventually straight down into the water, while the other simply watched.  Not sure what that was about … but I have my hunch.  :-O500_0274Later the two were swimming together notably alone.  I just love how for “white birds” they are quite colorful and full of detail.500_0229-Edit-EditDriving down a dirt road, we came across this lovely hawk.  It was calling out repeatedly in what could only be compared to as a red-tailed hawk call.  However, this wasn’t a red-tailed hawk, but rather a Swainson’s hawk.  It was then that I realized how similar their calls sounded.  It was quite persistent too … calling over and over.500_2845During our travels we came across a pair of American kestrels, which I believe might have been beginning to prepare their nest.  The pair were flying around and announcing their territory.  Isn’t the male just gorgeous?500_3470Now one of the star raptors always is the golden eagle and there was no shortage of them.  Quite beautiful in flight as they make their way past us over the landscape.500_3442Being that Tom and I have been doing a lot of raptor observation lately, I knew right away from its field marks, that this was indeed another golden sighting.500_2696Of course, there were a variety of birds spotted throughout the sagebrush landscape.500_3411Some were even showing off for the camera.  🙂500_3387We then headed back to the lake and found several otters playing … of course, they were a bit camera shy and headed out for a more distant view.500_3090We also found muskrats and beavers in an adjoining waterway.  The surface of the water was like glass and as such the beaver’s head had a perfect reflection whether it was coming or going.500_3273500_3292-EditWell you can’t come to Walden and not look for moose, right?  OK, so we did eventually do that, but at first I had to get some beautiful mountain bluebird poses and images.  Is there any prettier bird out there?500_3012So we did finally get our moose sightings … about 5 if I remember correctly.  Early spring  moose are not that exciting, as the bulls have already lost their antlers and re-growth hasn’t started.  Also, they tend to be more secretive and deep into the brush foraging for food.500_2964The sunset was also fabulous and I think, the perfect way to end this blog post.  There was so much seen and photographed.  Too much to include everything in this post, so forgive me for not sharing it all.  Yes, Walden is a magical place.850_1601

Next Up:  The main attraction in Walden … i.e. Why we went.  🙂

© 2018  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

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

 

 

Advertisements

365 Days & Counting

Well, I can’t believe it, but 5 days ago marked my 1st complete year in Colorado!  Man, time sure has flown by … guess that means I have been having fun, right?  🙂  I wanted to use this post as a reflection of my life so far in CO … what I have learned, what I miss, what is new, and pretty much what hasn’t changed much.  So let me get started.IMG_4281-2

I don’t want to frighten anyone by sharing how long it was that I lived it FL … but let’s just say that it’s been since I was 3.  Deciding to make the BIG move to Colorado was quite the adventure, as many of you can relate to.  For me, it was Tom and I, along with my mom and her husband … so the challenges were many.  Oh, and how could I forget my “live outside” cat … just getting over the plane trip was enough to fill most people’s quota of adventure.  LOL

For those of you who don’t know me personally, we decided to move to the small rural mountain biking town of Fruita, CO.  So I started out with the culture shock of moving from a large metropolis (Hollywood, (south) FL – population of ~ 150,00) to the rural community (Fruita – population of <13,000).  While we do have gas stations, grocery store, downtown shops, and even a hospital … most of our services are obtained about 15 miles away in the “big” town of Grand Junction, CO (population of ~ 62,000).  It took me 10 days before I heard a horn honk … and even then it was someone waving as they drove by to their neighbor.  LOL.  After about a week or 2 of being in Fruita, we had business to take care of in GJ and I told Tom I needed to get out of town, because it was too crowded.  Funny how quickly perspectives change.IMG_5713

Early on I learned that the year did in fact include seasons … and the colors changed and leaves were lost and snow may or may not fall.

I learned the sounds of farm animals, which I now call “neighbors”.  Changes of season were a welcome change for the better.  I learned that flights around the country often involved 4 hour drives to either Denver or Salt Lake City … both beautiful places so it could be worse.850_1084

I also learned just how precious water is … for it was something plentiful in south FL and I realized that my appreciation for it will now be forever changed.  IMG_4434-3

I learned that while I didn’t have to worry about hurricanes as much ….IMG_4808

…. I did have to pay close attention to wildfires.IMG_7896

One of the reasons why we wanted to move out west was the abundance of wildlife living there.  In Colorado, we have been treated to mountain goats, bighorn sheep, badgers, marmot, and pika as real treats … and also for birds, I was treated often to golden eagles, greater sage grouse, and Northern pygmy owls.850_6326-Edit-Edit-4DSC_8358-Edit-Edit500_1718

500_2533DSC_0479-2

Landscapes of mountains scenes are abundant and I have taken full advantage of indulging in them.

Some things never change and I find that I still get to photograph coyote, deer, fox, bald eagles, great horned owls, and screech owls (albeit western versus eastern species).

DSC_8740-2DSC_7876500_9375-Edit-Edit-4500_1291500_4553-4_DSC9055The above image showed a pair of eastern screech owls that called our neighborhood home and used our back yard to raised its young.  The image below is just one of the many western screech owls which call Grand Junction/Fruita home.  Actually, GJ/Fruita have the highest number of WESO in the country!  At least, on bird count days.  Yes, we take them quite serious here.DSC_2554-Edit

All of those subjects, whether species that are now new to me having in my home state, or those that I still have available to me, make me quite excited to be here.

I would be lying though if I said that there weren’t things that I do miss out here though.  No, it’s not really the beach, though sunrises on the ocean do pull at my heartstrings a bit._DSC1375-2

When I peruse the photographs of my friends still in Florida, I find myself myself missing things such as the grace of swallow-tailed kites …DSC_5426

… the beauty of the roseate spoonbills …20150501-DSC_9839

… even the red-shouldered hawks.  OK, I know I have red-tailed hawks galore, as well as other species, but it’s funny how your mind goes to things that you don’t have.  LOL._DSC2671-4

Such as the crested caracara ….

_DSC4648-4

Crested caracara surveys its surroundings during a rain shower – Kenansville, FL

… barred owls …._DSC2711

and alligators and crocodiles._DSC7989-4

Don’t even get me going with the burrowing owls and the sandhill cranes.  OK, most of you know that Colorado does have those birds, but it’s quite a bit different.  Let me explain … CO burrowing owls are quite timid and much less animated and social than our Florida ones.  Also while they are tons of sandhill cranes that migrate through here in the winter, finding them breeding and nesting here is so much more complicated.  How I long for shots like these ….

So, as they say …. sometimes you tend to want what you don’t have.  I don’t necessarily agree with that, for there are so many things that I really appreciate about being in CO.  There are just those few things that I wish I could see again, but I guess that’s what visiting home is all about.  😉  Least I forget, I do miss tremendously the family and friends that we left behind.  If anyone heads out to CO, please be sure to let us know.  🙂IMG_5455IMG_6696

I’ll leave everyone with another benefit of CO life … dark night skies, offering up gorgeous starry night skies like this …850_4473-Edit-4

Hope that everyone enjoyed this look back at 365 days of living as a Colorado resident.  I’m proud to be here.  🙂  Lastly, I want to thank Tom, my husband, for his support in this move and for all of his hard work in making the transition as smooth as possible.  ❤IMG_6689

Next up:  Local sights and sounds

© 2017 & 2018 TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

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

From Fruita to Loma

During the winter “that wasn’t”, we would often head out locally to some of our favorite areas to look for wildlife … mammals and birds.  One of our most visited treks is the trip between us and Highline Lake State Park in Loma.  The usual 13 mile trip can often take hours … because of all of the stopping along the way.  🙂  Such as for cuties like this ….500_1660The domestic sheep herd is moved around the rural farmlands to assist with the grazing of the land.  I never know where they’re going to turn up.  I just loved this darker one in the middle of all of those white sheep.  I guess it had to be different.  LOL500_1635This one was probably one of my favorite ones … I just love the way that the fencing was perfectly framing its face … plus that grassy nose.500_1648-EditOf course, along the way, we needed to stop for this herd of deer, mainly does, with a few buck sprinkled in. all traveling through a field, when it begain to lightly snow.500_1537One of the usuals in the area is the Northern flicker, which is actually a woodpecker, as you can tell from its beak.  I find them so incredibly beautiful with their black speckled bodies and touches of red.500_1262Another usual woodpecker is the downy woodpecker or the hairy woodpecker.  They look quite similar, except for the length of their beaks, with the hairy woodpecker’s being  longer.500_0934However the biggest stars in the area are the bald eagles.  We see them in all sorts of ages … juvenile to mature.  I find them quite interesting and I’ve always found the juvenile ones, with their mottled feathers, a favorite.500_1328500_0853Though not as abundant in the winter, the golden eagles are also soaring about and perched on the buttes and mesas.500_1977Looking at the feather coloration patterns, especially in the tail feathers, as well as the size of the beaks, it’s generally easy to tell the difference between the two.500_1300Yep, there are few things as randomly patterned as a juvenile bald eagle.  🙂500_1291500_1288Always lurking in our parks, rural farmlands, city downtowns, and even my backyard, the Cooper’s hawks keep a keen eye out for prey.500_1747And then there are the juncos … lots and lots of them.  Each season has such varied birding, that’s for sure, and I’m learning the ropes as they say.500_1432Next Up:  Wild horses of Wyoming

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

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

Photography Fun In Western Colorado

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

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

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

Next Up:  Mountain goats galore

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

Exploring The Carson Valley Area

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

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

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

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

The Arrival of Autumn

Well, this was my first autumn season in Colorado … and already it’s not exactly a “normal” one.  Seems that they leaves didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to be changing already.  Sure, the aspens might have started, but they sure have a long way to go.

_DSC2881It’s OK because that means there’s more time for the wildlife to forage on the nutritious environment, which will be available to them longer.DSC_2221Even the birds seem to be enjoying the mild autumn.DSC_2219So one day in October, we headed up to the San Juan Mountains for some fall colors … hopefully anyways.  On our way we stopped outside of Ridgway and met up with a few friendly birds.DSC_2100Mountain bluebirds have become a favorite “new” bird of mine.  So very pretty, a bit social (at least to me), and such a beautiful calls they make.  They migrate vertically, which means migrate down in elevation from the higher mountains to the lower valley areas when winter comes.  They dine primarily on insects and hunt from overhead for them.DSC_2193Western bluebirds are also a new one for me to have in my neighboring area.  They are declining in population, or at least are threatened to, by nest competition from the starlings.  So beautiful.DSC_2201DSC_2218Finally, in the upper elevations, we see the fall colors starting to emerge.  Usually it begins with the aspen leaves changing to a golden color.  _DSC0256-EditOrange and burnt orange colors are next to appear._DSC0184-Edit-EditAs we reach the higher elevations, the fall color explosion begins to really emerge.  When I got to this point on our drive, I requested that the car be stopped so that I can get out and see it more clearly.  THIS is one of the reasons that I wanted to move to Colorado!_DSC0192-Edit-Edit-EditEvery turn in the road was virtual eye candy in the landscape and left me hungry for what was around the next corner._DSC0198-Edit-EditThis area is well know to those John Wayne fans out there, as the area was featured in his movies.  Cathedral Peak in the San Juan Mountains outside the town of Ridgway. _DSC0247-Edit-EditJust when I don’t believe that it can get much nicer, another vantage point yields this … incredible beauty, with an explosion of fall colors and varied landscapes and trees, with those unmistakeable San Juan Mountains in the distance.  My heart skips a beat._DSC0217-Edit-Edit_DSC0232 Yes, it was such a magical day out there, so it only seems appropriate to end this blog post with a rainbow … actually a double one … it was just that beautiful!_DSC2892

Next Up:  Let’s go to Utah!

© 2017  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

The Winter Road Much Traveled

When visiting Yellowstone National Park in the winter, most of the roads are closed to vehicular traffic.  Therefore, to transition between Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP, we drove a familiar route through portions of Idaho.  It’s always full of adventure and photographic opportunities.

Trumpeter swans seemed to be just about everywhere.  Always appearing so elegant as they foraged in the waters, sometimes as a couple … sometimes solo._DSC6719In the midst of the silence of the winter, a Barrow’s Goldeneye flies by overhead._DSC6642Some of the wildlife subjects were happy to cooperate with my photo shoots, but not all, as evidenced by this young mule deer.  LOL_DSC6816Driving along the highway at about 75 mph (OK, I hope that we weren’t speeding), I happened to spot this great horned owl in a leafless tree along the road.  I had Tom double back and to my surprise, it was still there and cooperated for an image or two._DSC6819As fun as it was to see the great horned owl, we have those in Florida.  It had always been my dream to get a saw whet owl, so we went off in search of one, with the help of a great friend.  We searched for quite some time and I thought it wasn’t going to happen.  All of a sudden, I got word that she had found it.  There it was … just the cutest thing ever … well, it would have been without that darn branch in front of it.  No worries, it was my first and I’ll take it._DSC6945Look at those adorable eyes … so mesmerizing and captivating.  I could have stayed in its presence forever, but alas, we had to get on our way.  As I said, it was my first, but I certainly hope not my last._DSC6977-2The next morning, we tried to venture out to have more bird encounters, but Mother Nature had other ideas.  When we arrived to the wildlife refuge, we could see signs of wildlife being present ….IMG_0561… but in reality, we really couldn’t see ANYTHING around us.  I’m talking total whiteout situation, wind blowing and all.  Oh well, I guess it wasn’t mean to be.  Before Tom would risk driving off the dirt road berms, I thought it best to save the drive for another time.IMG_0559Now, for those of you who read the blog from Mt. Evans last summer, you might remember how bummed I was when we arrived and found the summit road to Mt. Evans closed for repairs.  Tom heroically rode his mountain bike up to the top and got some shots of the mountain goats for me … but I wanted MY OWN!!!

Well, my turn came when we spotted some on the mountainside, in the snow, a bit outside of the Tetons.  I was thrilled to see them, though they were adorned with collars and tags (i.e. ear jewelry).  Again, I was simply excited to see and photograph them, so I just blocked out those annoying features on them._DSC7105_DSC7170The young ones of course didn’t have the tagging on them, so they were fun to catch images of, as they made their way in the snow while following their moms._DSC7159_DSC6986Though they were a bit shaggy, they were still fabulous.  I hoped at this time that we would see them again on our way back out over the pass.  Fingers crossed anyways.  🙂_DSC7063Yes, we had a great time, not only photographing the wildlife of the area.  We also found a great new sushi restaurant … YUM!!!
IMG_0579

Next Up:  Jackson Hole & Grand Teton National Park

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com