My Colorado Neighbors

I never was much of a “smaller bird” watcher in Florida … don’t know why, but I just wasn’t.  Probably though I found them a bit frustrating to photograph as they darted in and out of the bushy trees.  LOL.  However, here on the western slope, I find it more fun to photograph them and have learned a whole lot about them.

On of the more popular and quite beautiful birds that we get is the Bullock’s oriole.  Being mostly bright orange with a black crown and eye line they are quite easily spotted as they dart from tree to bushes, feeding on berries, fruits, and small insects.

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They are one of only a few species that will eject the eggs of a pesky cowbird that has slipped one of their own eggs into the orioles nest for them to raise.  Quite fascinating.500_3458-Edit-EditThe male blue grosbeak is another that is easily spotted and identified in good light.  Its behavior of feeding is quite similar to that of orioles.  It’s quite a beautifully colored bird.500_3183Though I can’t identify birds by their songs and sounds to save myself, that doesn’t mean that I don’t try.  LOL.  Often I hear songs that I believe are one species … only to find a northern mockingbird instead.  They are the masters of mimickery (is that even a word?) for sure.  I always wonder why a bird named “northern” would be primarily found in the south … right?  It’s the state bird of 5 states (Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, and Mississippi) … those aren’t even remotely “northern”.  Go figure.500_3245Another beautiful bird that we never had in Florida is the lark sparrow.  I personally love its striped head and social nature.  An interesting fact about lark sparrow is that when on the ground, they only hop around, as opposed to walk around, when they’re in courtship mode, which in itself is quite fascinating.  Love this one with its “bonus bug” in its beak.500_3797500_3168There are many different types of swallows here on the western slope, including the ever-abundant barn swallow, whose range is almost the entire lower 48 + AK + Canada and Mexico.  They have deeply forked tails and the females tend to prefer those males with the longest tails … I guess that (tail) size does matter!  LOL 500_3208Northern rough-winged swallows have a similar geographical range.  They are pretty much less colorful or striking to view as the others.  This pair I would see on the same branch almost every time I looked.  500_3817I’ve had quite the hummingbird education since I’ve been in Colorado.  In my backyard, the black-chinned hummingbirds are my most common hummingbird visitors.  I saw my first hummingbird nests and was astonished to see just how very tiny they are.  Did you know that this species’ nest can also expand to accommodate the growing nestlings?  Now that’s amazing to me!500_3175The water birds can be fun to photograph as well.  Two of them are my personal favorites for this area.  The American avocet is quite beautiful with the daintiest long curled upward beaks ever.  500_3325Another favorite of mine are the killdeer … which you will undoubtedly hear long before you see them scurrying about.  Such characters they are … and quite beautiful as well.850_4482-Edit-EditNow, of course, anyone who knows me knows that birds of prey are my favorite birds.  This amazing Cooper’s hawk is just one of many that call my area home.500_4006During the late spring and summer, we also get Swainson’s hawks.  When they call out, to me, they sound just like red-tailed hawks and their call is sure to make your hair on your neck stand up.  LOL500_4261Being from Florida I was quite used to reptiles (lizards, alligators, non-native iguanas), but here we have numerous species of our own lizards.500_3986My favorite one is the collared lizard, which I was in search of and when I finally found one, I stopped in my tracks.  I was so impressed with their colors and patterns in their skin.500_3865-Edit-2-Edit-EditThey’re also quite tolerant of the observer … but rest assured I photographed these using my car as a blind because I was so excited and really didn’t want to alter it from sunning itself.500_4203I’m also quite impressed with those long claws … such fascinating creatures too.  When the mom lays her eggs, she leaves and the young emerge having to fend for themselves right from the start.  Amazing, huh?  Can’t wait until next spring/summer to see more!500_4237Hope that everyone enjoyed this week’s post.  Let me know what you think by leaving a comment if you would like.

Next Up:  I’m missing the beach … so let’s hit the ocean!

© 2018  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

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

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A Little Birding By The Lake

One of our local Colorado State Parks is a favorite destination for us to get outdoors, with limited time, and get in some wildlife viewing and photography.  Most times, in the spring, that means birding.

In Florida, we have a year round abundance of osprey.  I was worried that I would miss these beautiful birds, but I haven’t found that to be the case … except of course for the quantities.  In fact, the osprey both spend the summers here in western Colorado and also nest and raise their young here.  Furthermore, the osprey can be found in 49 of the  50 US states!  I really had no idea.500_8139Another bird that is found in almost all states, but here they’re primarily spending their winters, is the merlin.  Interestingly, we found this one in the spring, but with the mild winter that we had perhaps there wasn’t much of a signal that it was time to move on. :-O This one was so beautiful and quite cooperative for the lens.500_9270One of our year-long residents is the American kestrel.  Being one of the smallest raptors (other than several species of owls), the kestrel can often be seen on power lines and poles throughout our neighborhood.  They hunt in the rural fields and nest here as well.500_8282Around the shores of the lake, you can always count on the killdeer.  Easy to spot because of their running around, seemingly at a frantic pace, and also their calling out … also franctic.  LOL.  So beautiful with the red ring in the eye and their lovely markings.500_8451A whole host of other shorebirds share the shoreline with them.500_8640One of my favorite sightings locally this late spring was that of a few eared grebes.  500_8091Fully dressed in their breeding plumage, these two followed each other around the lake, often times mixing it up with the coots and a few western grebes.  The eared grebe is the most abundant grebe in the world.  Another amazing fact about the eared grebes is that they spend 9-10 months of the year essentially flightless … the longest of any bird that has the ability to fly!500_8044That amazing red eye is undeniable … your eye and that of the camera lens gravitates right to it.  Splash in those organge feathers contrasting with it and … oh wow!  With eared grebes, the sexes appear similar.  In the winter, they are much more drab looking.  Lucky for all of us, they emerge into this amazing plumage.500_7890Right behind them in their beauty are the American avocets.  Their grace in flight is unmatched … well, except by perhaps the black-necked stilts.  500_8412These long-legged shorebirds possess that thin, long. slightly upturned beak with black and white feathers patterned on their back and sides, as illustrated above.  The images ahred here are those which are adults in breeding plumage.500_9064They feed in the waters on insects, crustaceans, and invertebrates.  I just love it when they feed or drink in the water, especially when the droplets of water coming from their beaks is captured through the lens.500_9112-Edit-EditWhen we photographed them wading in the shallow waters, some were sleeping, some simply resting otherwise, and then one was just showing off for the lens.  LOL.  I loved the symmetry of this image. ❤500_8342-EditOf course, where there are birds and smaller wildlife … there might also be foxes.  Lucky for us, we spotted this beautiful red fox exploring its surroundings … probably looking for a quick meal.500_9324Yep it’s such a wonderful place to get out and explore and the best part is … you NEVER know what you’re going to find!

Next up:  Let’s go a bit NE of our home … and see what we find.  🙂

© 2018  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

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

Colorado’s Highline Lake State Park

Colorado State Parks consists of 42 individual parks which highlight the natural beauty and outdoor adventure experiences of Colorado, giving the public much to be proud of and lots of recreational opportunities.  Highline Lake State Park in Loma is one of the closest to us … just a mere 13 rural miles.  Needless to say, we go there a lot.

As the name implies, the park consists of two lakes, Highline Lake and Mesa Lake.  Recreational opportunities include boating, SUP’ing, canoeing, fishing, hiking, and even mountain biking.  Tom rides the trails out there … Debbie goes out to explore and photograph nature … all is good!

DSC_2381Birding is big there too.  In the summer and fall, many birds use the lakes for feeding, such as the terns, eagles, osprey, etc.DSC_2251DSC_2238Western meadowlarks can also be seen buzzing around the landscape.DSC_2281In mid-September, you can already begin to see some of the early seasonal changes in the landscape._DSC2969_DSC2979-EditEven the bunny rabbits seem to be out enjoying the beautiful days.DSC_2325Sometimes, when the water level is just right, shorebirds run up and down the shoreline.  This killdeer and its mate are quite noisy as they nervously run about, trying to avoid the camera’s lens.DSC_2387No one can miss it when the yellowlegs fly in … as their announcement is loud.  LOL.  Once landed though, I don’t think he liked the spot, so it left soon afterwards.DSC_2367The short-billed dowitcher didn’t seem to mind my presence and wasn’t shy in approaching me since that’s where it wanted to feed.DSC_2485The detail in its feathers were incredibly fascinating and the light played in its eye.DSC_2436Hanging out with it was this semi-palmated sandpiper … seemingly going left when the dowitcher went left and right when it went right.  I guess it figured it was safer that way perhaps or maybe playing clean up.DSC_2480Either way, it sure was equally beautiful, especially when its image was reflected on the surface of the water below.DSC_2498As I mentioned, perhaps they were hanging around together for safety, as the red-tailed hawks were numerous and quite actively flying overhead.DSC_5801-EditDSC_5815Of course, on the softer side of things, the northern flicker woodpecker also calls the trees within the park home.  Usually for me woodpeckers seem to run me in circles around trees, as they run in circles around them too foraging insects.  However, on this day at least, this flicker gave me a bit of a break and sat still and alert for a brief few seconds.  Thanks!DSC_5865-Edit-2As the month rambled on, the colors began to emerge and it was actually quite breathtaking._DSC0267The only thing that was prettier that the actual view from afar of the seasonal color changes was that of its reflection.  It made the vision and joy twice as nice!_DSC0270-Edit-Edit-EditEspecially when you zoom in and get more of the details of the view.  This is how I like to remember the lakefront of Highline Lake.  I wish I could keep it looking like this forever._DSC3321-EditI waited for this one to get into the reflection of the golden trees … just also wished it would have been closer.  I guess you can’t have everything, but at this moment, it seemed like it was enough.  🙂DSC_6127I hope that you enjoyed getting to “know” Highline Lake State Park too.  More to come from this park on a later blog, so stay tune.

Next up:  It’s all so Grand, in the Tetons that is  🙂

© 2017  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

2012 Review: PART 7 – Back in the FLA

The remainder of 2012 was spent with family, friends, and of course, with nature – the ever-present beauty that surrounds us.

Parent killdeer with its newborn chick
Parent killdeer with its newborn chick
Crested caracara surveys its surroundings during a rain shower - Kenansville, FL
Crested caracara surveys its surroundings during a rain shower – Kenansville, FL
Wild horses of Paynes Prairie State Park, Gainesville, FL
Wild horses of Paynes Prairie State Park, Gainesville, FL
Fox squirrel at Joe Overstreet Landing
Fox squirrel at Joe Overstreet Landing
The sandhill crane pair that sings together .... stays together
The sandhill crane pair that sings together …. stays together
Juvenile bald eagle at Lake Marion, Kenansville, FL
Juvenile bald eagle at Lake Marion, Kenansville, FL
Lake Newnan, Alachua County, FL
Lake Newnan, Alachua County, FL
Great Blue Heron, Wakodahatchee Wetlands
Great Blue Heron, Wakodahatchee Wetlands
West Palm Beach night scene, FL
West Palm Beach night scene, FL
Barred owl pair perched in tree, Dinner Island Ranch WMA, FL
Barred owl pair perched in tree, Dinner Island Ranch WMA, FL
Northern harrier soaring, Green Cay Wetlands, FL
Northern harrier soaring, Green Cay Wetlands, FL

I want to be sure to thank those of you who shared our year’s experiences with us, somewhere along the way…. you know who you are.  It’s always good to see old friends, and of course, make new ones along the way.  Oh, and a special shout out to all who helped out immensely in Georgia – again, you know who you are!  Your friendship means the world to us!  One last person to thank for my 2012 – that’s a great BIG THANK YOU to my best friend, husband, adventure traveler, and sherpa – Tom.  Not sure what I would do without you.

Sherpa Tom
Sherpa Tom

So what’s on the burner for 2013?  Who knows really … but a sneak peek does involve another return trip to AK, visit with the kids in NY or wherever they land, and wherever else makes sense or my hearts tells me to go.  Life is an adventure that one must live to appreciate.  My favorite saying, which guides me in my life and provides me with much inspiration is:  “Life in not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”.  Here’s to 2013 – BRING IT ON!

Hope that you’ve enjoyed a look back at my personal 2012.  I really welcome any and all comments and advice on this blog.  Here’s hoping I can keep this 2013 Resolution – a post a month or so (I give myself permission to “go with the flow”).  I wish you all a year full of life’s wonderful moments, great health, life-altering opportunities, and of course, adventure!  Life is only as good as the effort you put forth into it.

Take off from Beluga Lake, Homer, AK
Take off from Beluga Lake, Homer, AK
Thanks for hanging in as I looked back at 2012.  Now on to 2013!