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