A Grand Teton Homecoming

Always a much anticipated visit is Grand Teton National Park and the community of Jackson Hole.  It has so much to offer … from landscapes to wildlife, it never disappoints.

This year we met up with an amazing photographer, Jen Hall, whom I met originally on Flickr.  It’s always such a pleasure to shoot with locals, so we met up in the early pre-sunrise hour and headed off to get some morning first light.  It was absolutely perfect!

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Unlike Yellowstone NP, the Tetons still had a fair share of snow covering the ground, which is always exciting for us.

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Having already photographed bison, moose, bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyote, pronghorn, as well as a few other animals, I still felt the void of the red fox, as I didn’t get to photograph one in Yellowstone.  I REALLY wanted to have a fox encounter, so it was high on my list for the day.

We passed by other wildlife, in search of the sly fox, who was doing a good job in avoiding us.  I’ve always found that when you try so desperately to find a particular subject, it can sometimes elude you.  After hours of looking for a fox, we pretty much took a break, myself figuring that it wasn’t in the cards for that day.  There’s something to be said for staying put and allowing wildlife to come to you.

All of a sudden “eagle eyes” Tom became alert and noticed something emerging from the trees in the snow.  Sure enough, there it was … a magnificent-looking fox.

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After the scurry of reaching for the cameras, I don’t think anyone said one word, fearing it would alter its path, as it was headed right in our direction.  I personally don’t believe that I was even breathing as I clicked away.

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Gosh, it sure was stunning to see and it was quite cooperative with us, as it eventually sat down not far from us (as we were sat still inside our vehicle).  It didn’t seem to be in a rush to get anywhere … in fact, seemed quite sleepy and bored.  LOL  At one point, it gave us quite a yawn … couldn’t believe all of those teeth, which by the way, were quite clean-looking.  🙂

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At first,we thought it was a female (mama), but soon realized it was a male, as it seemed to mark anything and everything it could as it traveled in it path.

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At one point, it became quite interested in something … as it hunted … and ultimately came up with a tasty morsel, which it quickly consumed.

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Must have been good too, as it quickly licked its chops!  LOL

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Last year I photographed a red fox for a bit, as it moused in the snow.  It was quite fun, but also quite far.  This guy was a bit more “chill”, but he made up for it with his closeness to us and his cooperation as well.  Clearly someone had taught this guy a thing or two about camera angles.  🙂

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Once that red fox was checked off my list of wildlife to photograph, we were open for business for the other wildlife, such as the bighorn sheep.  We encountered a large herd of rams as they were slowly, but surely, making their way across the landscape.  Some young ones were in the group too … this one guy clearly had a bit too much energy too … as he jumped almost incessantly, head-butting his buddies.

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As they navigated to the mountainside, I was so impressed with the speed they possessed.  Yes, it was a great encounter as well.  Such magnificent creatures!

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So whether it’s wildlife or landscapes, it’s all beautiful and rewarding for the visitor taking it all in.

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More images and stories from Grand Teton NP will be featured in the next blog post, so stay tuned!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Bighorn Ram Encounter @ Yellowstone NP

Seems like every year I get the urge … or should I say, feel the necessity … to travel out to Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP.  2015 was no different and so we planned a trip out there, which we coupled with some family time snowboarding/skiing in the nearby vicinity.  Being that it was still winter out there, or so we thought, I originally had plans to rent out a small snow coach for the day.  The very mild winter of 2014-2015 changed those plans as snow coach touring and snowmobiling season ended up closing very early.  Quick … we need to execute Plan B.  So we made reservations in Gardiner, just outside of the parks iconic entrance arch in Yellowstone NP.  That road stays open year-round, as residents use it for travel to and from Cooke City.  It wasn’t long before we spotted our first wildlife – a beautiful pronghorn antelope.

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We expected to see them, along with lots of bison, elk, and mule deer.  What we didn’t expect to see as readily was the bighorn sheep.  As a matter of fact, I had never (believe it or not) seen bighorn sheep within the park boundaries!  So I was a bit thrilled.  I usually associate these fabulous rams when I make my way into Rocky Mountain NP.

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It wasn’t just a fluke sighting either … we found a gathering of several dozen rams.

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Though not many tourists come to Yellowstone during the winter months, even a mild one, we still didn’t want to start a “ram jam”, so we parked down the road and hiked in to where they were … paying particular attention to not encroach on their territory or break any distance regulations.

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Everything was going great until that moment … when the “big guy” came around a corner unexpectantly.  I backed up a bit and turned to assess the situation … snow and ice covered landscape and a rocky ledge behind me.  I managed to back out and put distance back between us.

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While the other rams of various ages and hierarchy continued to feed, this guy almost seemed to serve as the sentinel … you know, the lookout for trouble in the area.

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As they grazed in the grasses, they would occasionally look up and give me that “Vogue” look.  🙂

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I was impressed with their majestic look as they stood proudly, making their way within the group.  It was amazing to see the differences in their horns … or their curls.  You can see the signs of wear & tear on the senior guys and I couldn’t help but wonder about their story … what events they had been through for those “scars”.

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Being that it was late winter, they still had such nice coats and they were quite amicable with each other.  That will change as the year progresses towards the eventual rut season, when they will fight for hierarchy and that important status within the harem of females.

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It was so beautiful as they laid down on the landscape and stared off into the distance … with the bushes near then and trees, mountains, and snow off in the distance.

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Yes, it was fascinating to watch and yes, I felt truly honored to be in their presence and thrilled with the naturalness in their behavior as I clicked away.  🙂

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Wish I could click my heels and be back there right now.  Rest assured though, we’ll be back and ready for more.

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Of course, there’s more to Yellowstone NP that the pronghorn and bighorn sheep, so stay tuned for the next post with more wildlife, sights, and stories.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

2012 Review: PART 2 – Florida

Of course, Everglades NP is much more than crocs … the weekends were filled with many different photo opps, featuring a wide variety of many different species of migrating birds.  I know that if I ever left south Florida, the Everglades would be sorely missed.  Never the same place on any given time – always  evolving and changing.  Of course, no trip to the Everglades is ever complete without a side trip to Roberts for a strawberry-key lime milkshake – at least not if I make the trip down there with Tom!

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Burrowing owls were also a big focus for us this year, visiting them at Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City quite often.  They’re just so gosh darned cute!  In 2012, I really felt that I got to know the various families of owls, as we watched their young grow up, literally through our lenses.  I have to admit, it was a bit sad when they were all grown up and finally “flew the coop” – or should I say “flew the burrow”.

Our very first sighting of the little ones

Our very first sighting of the little ones

Testing out its wings and balance

Testing out its wings and balance

Some of the gang showing off in the nearby tree

Some of the gang showing off in the nearby tree

Can’t wait until the burrowing owl families are back in full swing!

Stay tuned for 2012 Review: Part 3 & Part 4

Welcome to My Blog

Happy New Year!

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I had a New Year’s Resolution in 2012 … it was to begin my personal blog.  I did create the blog site, however, I never got around to posting any blog entries.  Not that I hadn’t thought about it … for every month it seems, as I saw my “To Do” list … there it was …. “Write a blog entry”.  So, guess what my first 2013 New Year’s Resolution was?  You guessed it, finally the first entry!  This all seems a bit weird for me.  Those of you who know me, know that I’m not short on words, but this is so “out there” for me, so have some patience with me as I undergo my first post.

What to talk about?  Let’s see … overall I want to share random thoughts about life, travel, wildlife, nature, and of course adventures experienced.  I have always loved to LIVE life to the fullest … trying to never have regrets about something I did, but more importantly something that I didn’t do.

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I thought that it would be best if I took the first post opportunity to reflect upon my life in 2012.  It was a very busy one for me!  From wedding planning to a return journey to Alaska to a family reunion (and its extension travel, of course) out west, it was a challenge to say the least.

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PART 1:  See, early in 2012, we were putting the finishing touches to a year’s worth of planning my daughter Kelli’s wedding.  Well, she actually did the vast majority of the work – bless her heart – all while finishing her Master’s in Human Performance at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL  (yes, she’s a Gator – after spending 6 years pursuing her educational goals – but she did me proud by graduating With Honors, with a B.S. and her M.S.), while still holding down a research position and then a FT job as an Exercise Physiologist in Ocala, FL.  All the while her husband-to-be was traveling for his job and spending a full year in Arkansas.  Imagine my surprise when she told me that she wanted to get married in the Georgia mountains!  Now that planning was quite complicated, but it did have benefits – as we needed to travel to Cleveland, GA to visit Neverland Farms (no, not Neverland Ranch). The wedding was the most amazing one – so relaxed, so natural, so beautiful, so “country chic” as my daughter calls it.  (Note:  the wedding images are not mine, simply borrowed for the blog, yet impressed in my memory – thanks to Matthew for capturing through images this spectacular day for us).

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These wonderful candles are available from our friends @ Drunkenbottle  (www.drunkenbottle.com)

These wonderful candles are available from our friends @ Drunkenbottle – the art of recycle  (www.drunkenbottle.com)

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I honestly don’t think that I’ve ever felt so proud … the moment when the ceremony was over and Tom & I were watching everyone have an amazing time at the reception.  How beautiful Kelli was and what a lovely young lady she had become – so caring, yet strong, and how mature she had become over the years when I wasn’t looking.  🙂  I distinctly remember looking at Tom and declaring … “We’ve done good”!

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Immediately after the wedding, they took off on their honeymoon to Costa Rica, where apparently my daughter and Mitchell walked through the croc-infested waters unknowingly, because they didn’t want to be “tourists” and take the boat over to the other side.  Yes, she’s got a bit of me in her – always seeking adventure.  Yikes!  They are now living in Brockport, NY, where Mitchell’s job has taken him.  Of course, this called for a visit where we toured Niagara Falls, Rochester, Hamlin Beach, Braddock Bay and the quite impressive Letchworth State Park.  Destination for 2013?  Who knows, but hopefully somewhere fun!

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Over the next few months, we visited the Everglades quite a bit and had a crocodile experience of our own!  What a thrill!

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Do a Blog : Check!

Stay tuned for Parts 2, 3, & 4 of my 2012 Year in Review.