Our Last Teton Hurrah!

We stayed 3 days in Grand Teton NP, but of course, each day is substantially different that the one before … or the next for that matter.  Coming in from Jackson Hole, we immediately pass by the Elk Refuge, which was no longer covered in snow and the elk were largely leaving already.  However, there was a juvenile bald eagle hanging out in the area.

20150323-DSC_2054

We observed him for quite some time.  The light was far from optimal for capturing its beauty, but we sure got some fun poses and behaviors from it.  How fascinating those talons are!

20150323-DSC_7502

When we first arrived to GTNP, the Antelope Flats was fully closed, but by day 3, it was partially open.  I wanted to photograph the famous Moulton Barn in the snow cover, so we went as far as we could on the road, then hiked in the rest of the way.  I was a bit surprised to see the the snow cover was missing in some areas … still it was so beautiful and particularly fun, especially since you could “hear” the silence … yes, we had it to ourselves.

20150323-_DSC2839

Along the way, we came across numerous ice patches in the gravel road.  I was fascinated by their beauty.

20150323-_DSC2853

Their geometric shapes were so interesting and each one was unique.

20150323-_DSC2860

Some of the frozen ice patches were frosted and opaque, while others were clear and full of bubbles.

20150323-_DSC2863

At one point, I noticed something fly by … it was quite beautiful … and to my shock, it was a mountain bluebird … already in mid-March!  Yes, it had been a mild winter and we later learned that this was the beginning of their sightings.  I felt so privileged to be able to partake in their beauty.

20150323-DSC_7511

Of course, that wasn’t the only bird that we sighted, as many species of duck and other water birds were present as well.

20150323-DSC_2088

This Canadian Goose had its own version of ice fishing … which we found quite entertaining and quite comical.  🙂

20150322-DSC_1253 20150322-DSC_1458

We made a special trip to see the bighorn sheep again.  This time it was the ewes and the lambs and juveniles that we encountered first.  The herds were already up on the mountainside.

20150322-DSC_1476

Mama was teaching the young ones an important lesson in their survival skills … how to navigate those rocky cliffs and ledges … to evade their predators.

20150322-DSC_1653

I was thrilled to be able to witness them as they tested their skill, though I have to admit, I was probably more nervous than both of them put together!

20150322-DSC_1554 20150322-DSC_1555 20150322-DSC_1634 20150322-DSC_1563

Stunned … that’s how I felt as they descended in almost a complete vertical fashion, down  the ledges and rocky landscape.  I know that they’re hooves are specifically equipped for such travel, but it’s still heart-stopping to observe.

20150322-DSC_1692

When they decide to “haul butt” too, they can sure get up and go!

20150322-DSC_1785

I know that I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again … nature is so amazing!

20150322-DSC_1990

Of course, there’s so much more beauty in the landscape of the Tetons to explore as well.

20150322-_DSC2811 20150322-_DSC2814

20150322-_DSC2800

I didn’t want to leave, but we had to get back to Bozeman for an early morning flight the next day.  I noticed that a storm seemed to be coming, as the mountain range soon became shrouded by the clouds.  As we left the park and Jackson Hole, we started out towards the Teton Pass.  Wouldn’t you know it … it began to snow … a fairly heavy snowfall too.  I call it “divine intervention” … you know, making it OK to leave, for photography would become difficult for a bit.  Except for, that amazing beauty of the area in mid-snowfall … yes, that’s its own beauty.

20150323-_DSC2870

Until next year, when we will most surely return, goodbye Tetons!

Next up:  More birding in Florida

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

The Sights & Sounds of Yellowstone NP

One can’t visit Yellowstone NP and get an appreciation of what it has to offer in just one day … not even in the winter when most of the roads are inaccessible.  Even though we were a bit short on time, we spent 3 full days there.

Now wildlife abounds in Yellowstone and one of the more famous resident species is the elk.  Many sightings of elk were encountered, both the females and the males.  Of course, at this point, they had all dropped their antlers, but still had most of their nice winter coats.

20150312-DSC_6055

You had to be careful of them too, as they sometimes crossed the roads with very little warning.  Of course, when there’s one, there’s usually more, so the key is to proceed with caution.

20150312-DSC_6076

Entering the park via the Gardiner entrance, the first area of Yellowstone that you come across is the fascinating Mammoth Hot Springs area – the first of many thermal grounds within Yellowstone.

20150312-DSC_6091Viewing the thermal features of the park, it’s easy to forget it’s not all hot springs and geysers and that this was still winter.  Icicle formations hanging over the rivers were equally impressive this time of year.  Snap back into reality.

20150312-DSC_6180

Proving that yesterday’s bighorn sheep encounter wasn’t just a fluke, we ran into them again… over and over.  🙂

20150312-DSC_6100 20150312-DSC_6126 20150312-DSC_6149

I’m always fascinated with wildlife when I get to photograph them from their viewpoint, like in this image below.  What an amazing place that they currently call their home.  I couldn’t help but wonder what this big guy was thinking too.

20150312-DSC_6153

OK, you know how your pets love to bask in the sunshine?  Well, these sheep are obviously no different.  LOL

20150313-DSC_6503

Another first for us, though admittedly not an great shot, was not just one, but two juvenile moose – hanging out together in the vast expanse of Lamar Valley.

20150312-DSC_6176

One of the most difficult wildlife encounters I’ve ever dealt with was the story of a bison who had unfortunately fallen through the ice into a pond not far from the road.  We watched it struggling in a life or death fashion to try to free itself by climbing out of the partially frozen pond.  We could hear it gasping for breathe with each attempt … so did the predators out there as well.

20150312-DSC_6249

This curious coyote arrived on scene to check it out.  At one point it sat down, waiting for an easy meal, but soon must have sensed the time wasn’t right yet and retreated.

20150312-DSC_6302

I photographed that poor bison for hours, praying beyond hope that it would emerge victorious.  Tom sensed my sadness and though he was stronger, I’m sure he felt sad as well.  He didn’t want to go back the next morning (poor guy didn’t want to deal with me upset yet another day), but I had to have closure.  Again I prayed that it would be successfully freed.  Worst yet, I feared that it might be still struggling.  Sadly, it had perished during the night and a coyote was doing its best to begin to feast upon it.  Such is nature’s way and the circle of life.  It’s a tough life out there for wildlife … for that matter for all of us.  It was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever witnessed and it still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.

20150313-DSC_6735

After that, I look at the bison differently … I know that sounds weird, but I do.

We encountered some younger bison learning how to jostle each other.  It’s all fun and games now, but one day it will be more about that status and superiority.

20150311-DSC_5982

These bison learn from a young age how to alleviate the many insect pests that congregate near their faces and in their fur.  A swift roll about on the dusty landscape is just what this bison’s doctor ordered.  LOL

20150313-DSC_6667 20150313-DSC_6682

We did see wolf, but the sightings were mostly from afar.  The howling of the wolves was prevalent quite often and two of the packs intermingled at one point and were a cause for concern amongst the wolf-watchers.

Coyote sightings, a lone coyote each time, were pretty common as well and always entertaining as they scrounged around looking for a quick and easy meal.

20150313-DSC_6616

We were very fortunate that our days in the park, though a bit chilly, were quite sunny and beautiful.  The eastern entrance of the park, towards Cooke City was quite snowy also, so it did intermittently remind you that it was winter.

20150312-DSC_0526

Our last wildlife sighting while in Yellowstone was on our last evening.  To our surprise, a bull elk was grazing all by itself under the canopy of the trees.  Even more surprising was that it still had its antlers … and a fine rack at that.   Go figure.  With that sun setting and that gorgeous golden light being cast upon the landscape as it did, it was the perfect way to end our day … as well as our winter Yellowstone NP trip.

20150313-DSC_6901

Well, until next visit to Yellowstone we said our goodbyes.  Who knows what the next visit will bring ???  Now, off for some snowboarding and skiing!

Next up:  Antelope Island State Park

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

 

2012 Review: Part 4 – Denali National Park & Other AK Areas

Off to Denali we went for another week or so – actually we loved it so much that we returned to Denali for another 4 day stint when Kelli & Mitchell flew out to join us in Anchorage.  Hoping to see the moose rut, it seems that we were still a bit too early to see the real jostling that goes on, but we did see some early “practice sessions”.  We did see many sightings of grizzly bears this year – many times they were sows and their cubs.  As they frolicked in the amazing autumn-kissed tundra or sometimes even in the snow covered landscape, they thrilled me to no end, as I clicked off images to my heart’s content.  Wolf sightings were achieved, as well as coyotes, caribou, golden eagles, harriers, dall sheep, just to name a few.  Conspicuously absent for us in 2012 was the lynx, though I tried really hard… new found friends of ours were successful in seeing one, so I lived vicariously through their sighting.

When we first arrived, we were treated to a vast array of autumn’s best colors.

Autumn color changes were everywhere, as even the caribou has to stop to enjoy the view

Autumn color changes were everywhere, as even the caribou has to stop to enjoy the view

Young grizzly cubs frolicking at play

Young grizzly cubs frolicking at play

Lone wolf cruising the tundra in search of a meal

Lone wolf cruising the tundra in search of a meal

Cow moose feeding

Cow moose feeding

Then the weather began to change, as the fog and rain rolled in
Where's the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow?

Where’s the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow?

Then it happened ….. SNOW  (remember, we’re quite excited – being from FL and all)
The snowfall started in the afternoon and continued on through the evening

The snowfall started in the afternoon and continued on through the evening

The next day, it was beautiful!  The snow had stopped, the skies were clear, the weather was cold, but plenty of sunshine to help warm us up.  Even the wildlife seemed to enjoy it.
Grizzly bear stop in the snow flurry blanketed landscape

Grizzly bear stop in the snow flurry blanketed landscape

What a fabulous day!

What a fabulous day!

Taking in the view from Wonder Lake

Taking in the view from Wonder Lake

The freshly fallen snow contrasts so beautifully on the mountains and against the sky

The freshly fallen snow contrasts so beautifully on the mountains and against the sky

Not a cloud in the sky - viewpoint of Mt. McKinley (aka Denali) from Stony Hill Overlook

Not a cloud in the sky – viewpoint of Mt. McKinley (aka Denali) from Stony Hill Overlook

Having some fun along the way!

Having some fun along the way!

A mother-daughter moment of happiness  :-)

A mother-daughter moment of happiness 🙂

We also traveled to other areas of Alaska, of course, as we always do.  There’s never a shortage of experiences or sights/animals to see and photograph.  I encourage everyone out there that has never visited AK to do so … you won’t be disappointed.

Hatcher Pass vista

Hatcher Pass vista

The newlyweds along the Turnagain Arm @ Beluga Point - yes, we did see the belugas!

The newlyweds along the Turnagain Arm @ Beluga Point – yes, we did see the belugas!

And our most favorite of all sights, though very different viewing in 2012, is the spectacular aurora borealis.  First experienced by us in 2007 in Chena Hot Springs, outside of Fairbanks, it continues to be sought after by us when we visit AK in the later summer.  This year, the aurora didn’t “dance” across the sky like a blowing curtain, but rather made it’s presence know with an almost glow in the sky.  Not much movement at all, though still very beautiful.

Northern lights over Chena Hot Springs

Northern lights over Chena Hot Springs

What a wonderful place … ever-changing, awe-inspiring …. warms the heart and soul  🙂

Stay tuned for 2012 Review:  Part 5

2012 Review: PART 3 – Brown Bears of the Kenai Peninsula & Katmai

Of course, our sights were also focused on our return to Alaska – our 6th annual trip!  This time we visited with our good friends, Todd & Susan, who were experiencing Alaska for their first time.  Really made it fun to see and hear their thoughts on a place that has become so near and dear to us over the years.  We spent about a week on the Kenai Peninsula – visiting with the Russian River bears (always a thrill), eagle watching in Homer, walking Bishops Beach near Home Spit,

Hanging on to the prize

Hanging on to the prize

Like a child playing in their bathtub

Like a child playing in their bathtub

Out on the Russian River

Out on the Russian River – photo courtesy of Todd Stein

and of course, spending some time with the coastal brown bears in Katmai NP.  This year, we spent time at Kuliak Bay, where we were treated to numerous bears, including some sows and their adorable cubs.  What a sight these cubs were, as they scurried by us, not sure of what we were or what we were doing in their world.

Spring cub is not too sure about us

Spring cub is not too sure about us

Salmon fishing at the falls

Salmon fishing at the falls

Chasing down the river towards us (after the salmon, of course)

Chasing down the river towards us (after the salmon, of course)

Retreating into the tall grasses to rest

Retreating into the tall grasses to rest

No matter how many times we visit Katmai NP, it’s never the same.  We have been fortunate to visit new locations within the vast Katmai landscape each year and 2012 was no different.  We even got to spend some time with crew members of the BBC film crew shooting a documentary in the area.

... missed ....

… missed ….

The skillful fisherman

The skillful fisherman

The flight over to Katmai is always a treat for the eyes, but this year we were treated to an incredible fly-over of the glacial landscape and mountains of the coastal areas and a bit of the interior of Katmai – on an amazingly beautiful day.  I can’t thank Jon enough for that added bonus thrill for us!

_DSC5777

_DSC5725_DSC5731_DSC6987-2_DSC6993-2_DSC7007_DSC6980-2_DSC6982-2

What an incredible place!  Make it a destination for yourself one day!

Stay tuned for more of the 2012 year in review!