Living Free

Towards the end of winter, we decided to take a mini-vacation and drive over to Jackson, WY and Grand Teton National Park.  It’s a trip that we do generally a few times a year, but each year is so very different and 2018’s winter trip was mind-blowing.  The next few blogs will share some of the images and stories from that trip.

But first … on our way into Jackson, WY, we made a stop to see the wild horses outside of Rock Springs, WY.  The fabulous 24-mile adventure into the Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop trail, on BLM land in WY to be precise.  It can be accessed there or in Green River, WY.

500_2136Approximately 1500 head of wild horses call that property home.  They are truly wild … untamed.  Many are descendants from those that lived there on cattle ranches during the 1800’s.500_2224When we first drove in, which was in the later afternoon, we were worried that we might not find any of the horses, but we quickly realized that would not be the case.  500_2289-EditFirst we found a solo horse or two … not really sure why they weren’t part of any particular band.  They were all so beautiful and free.  That concept appealed to me and I found their presence exhillerating.500_2231-Edit500_2298-Edit-EditThere were mares, stallions, and some young ones as well.500_2336I wanted to add that here, though we didn’t see any, there are also other wildlife spotted such as deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, rabbits, coyote … and an assortment of hawks, eagles, and sage grouse.  We did see a male northern harrier that fly next to our truck for quite some time … guess he knew that I couldn’t capture an image in the low light.  Such pesky buggers otherwise.  LOL500_2288On this particular day, it was quite windy and that wind was blowing through their manes and the sage brush as well, as well as called out in the air, and it heightened our experience.500_2475-EditMost endearing to me were the mare and colt encounters.  So beautiful, nurturing, and loving … yet so free to be.  🙂500_2718I took many of images, but chose just to share a sampling.  Before long, the sun began to quickly descend into the early night.  The temperatures also began to drop … remember despite the lack of deep snowfall, it was still winter.

One of my favorite shots, and one to bid adieu with, was this horse, which with another were getting quite frisky and began to jump around as it trotting off into the distance.  Nothing like kicking up your heels in joy!  Why not, we should all live so freely.  🙂500_2625Next up:  Birds of the Tetons

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

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

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Driving Through Rural Florida

Don’t ever be mislead into thinking that Florida is entirely a “concrete jungle”.  While that may be more of a reality on the Florida’s coastline, especially in the south, there are certainly areas that offer a much more rural feel.  On days that Tom & I both have some free time together, we take drives into such areas.  Why don’t you come along for the journey?  🙂

Along the shores of one of the many lakes in Florida, we came across some horses, albeit not wild, but they still made for a peaceful looking image.  DSC_9042That was until we heard and saw a bunch of action going on.  Seems like a crested caracara joined a party of two crows and was far from welcome there.  They both ganged up on the caracara with some ferocity, which I always find so fascinating.DSC_8992DSC_8993After a chase ensued, the caracara finally got the message and took flight over the landscape.DSC_9005The crested caracara is normally found dining roadside with some of our vultures (black and turkey) … feasting on some recent road kill or some other type of carrion.  They are referred to as “Mexican eagles” since they have so many of them there and are found in areas like Florida, Texas, and perhaps other gulf states.  They are actually in the falcon family.  I have always found them to be quite beautiful and interesting.DSC_8211Speaking of the oddly intriguing … we also find many wood storks along the way.  It’s easy to see how they got their name.  They’ve made quite a comeback too and can be found bullying over the nests of other birds in our Florida rookeries.DSC_8310More elegant are the common great blue herons.  They have got to be the most patient birds when it comes to feeding, as they will stand there motionless for what seems to be an eternity (at least while you’re photographing them) waiting for the precise moment of opportunity to strike.DSC_8290DSC_8255Feelings of pride and patriotism rush over me whenever I spot our U.S. national bird, the bald eagle.DSC_9107DSC_9223DSC_9171Such a symbol of freedom are they.  I remember that when I was growing up, I never saw them, but they are many out there now in numbers.  Such an amazing comeback story of how the Endangered Species Act, as well as environmental protections, work together to ensure that they thrive again.DSC_9542Always searching for hikes to take out in wilderness and this one yielded this juvenile black-crowned night heron, who incidentally, wasn’t bashful at all.DSC_9378Sandhill cranes, always a favorite of mine whever I can find them, are a thrill to see.  These two are a mated pair and exhibit such dedication to each other.DSC_8512When they start unison calling, I just stop in my tracks.  Much like the sound of elk bugling or a bear cub purring, I can’t get myself to myself to even flinch a muscle when I hear it.DSC_8534Only to be outdone is when they begin their dance of love and celebration.DSC_8521This pair was drinking water in the field, exhibiting a behavior that I had never seen before.DSC_8568The whooping crane can sometimes be found hanging out with the sandhill cranes.  It is primarily white feathered, with black tips and a red crown, it’s much larger than its cousins.  I hope that they will rebound like the bald eagles did.  While sandhill cranes are sometimes hunted (why?) over migration states, the whooping crane is protected.  Sadly though, they are sometimes “mistaken” for a sandhill crane.  When you see a whooper, it’s hard to understand how  they could possibly be mistaken as adults.DSC_9526The great egret, sporting its white lacey breeding plumage backlit by the sun, is a fabulous sight to see as well.DSC_9708Of course, the trip-colored heron is a show to watch as it hunts as well.DSC_9759Towards the end of the day, the sandhill cranes begin to return to roost for the night.  In the beginning, they fly a few at a time….DSC_9859… eventually numerous constructions of cranes soar overhead … all generally calling out their impending arrival.DSC_8838Their silhouettes against the setting sun, which has highlighted the atmosphere, is nothing short of wonderful.  When they drop their legs, as they ready to execute their landing, reminds me of paratroopers as they find their way back to earth.DSC_8856Yep, we may not have mountains and varied mammal wildlife in Florida, but we do have much to be thankful for.  🙂
FullSizeRenderNex Up:  Wonder of the wetlands

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com