The Deering’s Fall Equinox Sunrise

Water … it’s one of the benefits of living in south Florida … especially when you’re referring to the waters of the boat basin.  Any sunrise at the Deering Estate can be a special one.  It’s a fabulous place that offers royal plam tree-lined entrance from the vast bay waters into the boat basin … offering shelter and calm waters for the boats.  Usually once a month, Miami-Dade parks opens up the estate just in time to get set up for a sunrise photography shoot.  Now, the area is still closed for about another 4 hours, so it’s prime time.  Just a limited number of photographers, unlimited number of mosquitos and no-see-ems, and the chance to watch the sun rise during the fall equinox, directly in the middle of the basin entrance._dsc0841Of course, you also need some help from the clouds, which seemed to be a challenge on this day.  Who forgot to order the clouds for this shoot?  LOL.  That said, we had some fabulous still waters for near perfect reflections._dsc0845On this day, it also seemed to offer deeper colors to the left, so that’s where I tended to shoot.  Why not?_dsc0848Before long, the rays of the soon-to-be sun were shining brightly.  It was so glorious to witness.  Between getting lost in the beauty of nature and uttering unmentionables at the no-see-ums in particular, sometimes I would forget to shoot._dsc0867_dsc0877Then all of a sudden a SUP’er (stand up paddle boarder) showed up.  Thankfully I had a bit of a zoom on (plus the benefit of cropping obviously) to show his silhouette against the golden sky and waters at that perspective._dsc0922Shortly later, I was back to shooting the horizon, with the golden yellows sharing center stage with some oranges popping through._dsc0925The eventually some pinks and blues in the clouds to the left._dsc0938Of course, out to the left at the entrance of the basin is a bird rookery, so we could hear them, as well as a quite vocal red-shouldered hawk in the trees behind us calling out.  Flocks of birds would move across the landscape in the far distance as well._dsc0945Of course, like all sunrise (as well as sunset) opportunities, they are quite brief and fleeting.  So before I left I took one last image of the backlit clouds out on the horizon.  Gosh, it’s a very early hour to get up to arrive there in time, but with scenes like these, it makes it all worth it._dsc0987-hdrFor those who have never had the chance to visit the Deering Estate, this is what it looks like.  Prime real estate for sure, fabulous mansion, with the most incredible views.  _dsc1052All I have to do from here is turn 180 degrees around the basin view again.  Can’t imagine how spectacular it would have been to live here.  🙂_dsc0984Next Up:  Since it’s winter … let’s finish with a winter wonderland!  Think polar bears. 🙂

© 2016  TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

 

Rural Florida

In the early fall season, I’m usually spending some time in south Florida.  Most of the time, it’s still quite hot … and buggy … so I tend to look for places that I can go and have my car in close range for respite.  Not too far from home is a wildlife management area that is fun to visit as long as there’s no hunting going on.  For this type of local getaway, we always try to get out nice and early.  Once we arrived, we were immediately  greeted by some local residents.  🙂dsc_7214One of the things that I love most when enjoying the outdoors is not only the sights, but also the sounds of nature.  Unmistakeable to me is the melodic song of the eastern meadowlark.  Before long, we spot the beautiful songstress perched up on a barbed wire fence … continuing with its song.dsc_7283This is one of the areas where I can usually count on seeing one of my favorite scavenger birds .. the crested caracara.  While they’re usually found feeding on carrion, this particular one was taking a break perched on a fence post.dsc_7313As I was photographing, it decided to launch into flight, though it didn’t go far.dsc_7327It landed in the grassy area and began to feed on the landscape … probably going after insects, lizards, and frogs.  Of all the scavenger birds, it’s got to be one of the prettiest.dsc_7410Red-shouldered hawks were also out and on the prowl for their own meals.dsc_7471We even spotted a black-crowned night heron foraging in the wet grassland.  I’m always fascinated by their signature red eyes at maturity.dsc_7492Even other songbirds were out and about.  This male northern cardinal paid us a visit on one of our many stops along the way.  Did you know that the northern cardinal holds the distinction of being the state bird of 7 states?dsc_7438Of course, grazing cattle are found throughout the ranch area.  This shot was taken of one of them with a signature cattle egret catching a lift on his shoulders.  That being said … am I the only one that thinks that this cow looks like it’s wearing a party hat?  LOL.  Well, it also looks like it’s been a bit violated or should I say christened?  🙂dsc_7496My favorite of the morning though was our encounter with several barred owls.  These medium-sized owls have distinctive large brown eyes, rather than the yellow eyes of most owls.  dsc_7521There’s something so special about the stare of an owl.  It’s almost hypnotic.  The barred owls have such soulful eyes too.  _dsc7785Of course, when they vocalize to each other, it’s often a symphony of calls … calling out … then a response call back.  Love it when they puff up their necks when vocalizing.dsc_7647Being careful not to spend too much time in their presence, we eventually got the hint when this barred owl seemingly rolled its eyes at us.  I guess we were a bit too boring for it.  🙂_dsc7792Yes, this is a fabulous place to visit, though I would advise to check the hunting permit schedule first.  Though south Florida is a large, crowded metropolis, it’s nice to know that within just a few hours, one can get away from the crowds and hustle/bustle of it all, and spend quality time with nature and its wildlife.  _dsc0837Next up:  The fall equinox at a most picturesque location

© 2016  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

Wetlands, Preserves, & Yards … Oh My!

Taking a break from the snowy conditions of the Alaskan arctic, let’s return to the warmer, more humid climate of southern Florida.  Sure we have beaches, sand, and sun … but we also have winter visitors … not just of the human kind, but also our bird friends come to visit for a bit.  Some also court, mate, and raise their young too.

When they arrive, they do so in their Sunday finest … all dolled up and ready to impress.  No other time do they possess such beautiful breeding colors and perform such elegant ways, designed to tantalize the ladies.  One of the best examples of undergoing a metamorphis as such are the cattle egret.  Once an “ordinary white bird”, they become striking with that red eye, multi-colored bright beak, exaggerated coloration, and that fabulous breeding plumage._DSC4777Not native to Florida, though becoming quite popular, is the swamp hen.  A bit similar in appearance to the purple gallinule, though its colors are muted and beak consists of less colors too.  Still they possess a bit of that iridescence in those feathers when the sun hits it just right._DSC4824Still one of the most elegant is the great egret._DSC4912Though not as entertaining, the grebes also possess that cuteness factor … especially when they’re all fluffed up._DSC4957In Florida, it’s not all birds that hang out in the wetlands and preserves.  Again, though not native, we get our fair share of iguanas.  I used to get quite upset seeing them, especially when they would hang out near the birds, but in reality, they’re more vegetarians and not necessarily after wildlife.  Also, look at how amazingly photogenic they are … so prehistoric-looking, so full of details and features that could be the subject of a macro lens setup as well.  We even get them in our yard!_DSC4937Other reptiles live in the wetlands too.  This poor snake, fighting for its life, after being snatched from the grasses by the great blue heron … one of the most skillful hunters of frogs, snakes, and fish alike._DSC0234It’s hard to miss the red cardinals when they’re around.  On this particular day, there was one female, as shown below ….._DSC2027… flying around with not just one, but two, male cardinals chasing it.  Clearly one of them was her favorite beau too.  Look at how rich this guys coloring is!  This was not enhanced via any processing color, but rather straight out of the camera._DSC2051It’s always a thrill to find the sora out and about looking for something to eat along the soggy landscape.  Usually the sighting doesn’t last too long, as it generally returns into the plants rather quickly._DSC2082Though I’m not much of a “small bird”er, even I can’t resist the pretty little ones when they finally stand still, in the open, and pose for me.  🙂_DSC8644The tri-colored herons are one of the most striking birds when in their breeding plumage.  That bright red eye, deep blue bill, the beautiful tuft of white feathers out the back of their head, and their beautiful body feathers make the photographer or observer stop and look. _DSC8563The dance of courtship that they, and other birds, perform is a treat to watch as well.  Preening one’s feathers, poking around at the tidy nest, and rhythmically moving up skyward, then down repeatedly … so amazing to watch!_DSC8568Speaking of beautiful show-offs, what better example of that is the peacock, with their extremely long feathers, all patterned with designs that look like eyes, as they drag them behind them like a bride with her wedding dress train.  Though this guys not quite excited enough to lift them in a display fashion, it’s still quite beautiful.  This guy was photographed while making his way through my friends front yard.  I have some chickens down the block who wander through my yard … this guy can come visit me too if he wants._DSC2255So these were just a few of the many avian visitors to south Florida.  As the breeding season is over, not all, but many leave the area.  Don’t blame them … it gets way too hot down here … I sometimes leave too.  🙂

Next Up:  Anyone want to go to Yellowstone NP in the winter?

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

 

Soaring With Eagles

Taking a break from the polar bears … well pardon the pun, to a “polar” opposite subject … from bears to birds, of Florida, no less.

Am I the only one out there that has difficulty getting the camera in gear after a big photo trip?  Seems like every year after I return from Alaska, I cull and process my images for endless hours.  Combine that task with the holiday events that seem endless as well, once the last quarter of the year arrives and I guess it’s a bit overwhelming.  So this year in early January, I made it a priority to get out and see what my home state had to offer.

This little loggerhead shrike might look all sweet and fluffy, but it’s actually a fierce predator that has been known for executing its unfortunate prey by peircing them on the barb wire that often is readily available in its environment.  I remember one year we found one in the middle of a dirt road that we were driving on, dazed but alive, Tom rescued it from a certain untimely death.  I was a bit concerned that it would use its sharp beak to impale Tom’s hand, but it didn’t as Tom gently placed it in a bushy tree nearby, where its partner came over to it.  What an awesome feeling to know that we (actually Tom) did something good.  Yes, he’s always the one placing the crossing turtle on the side of the road it was traveling to … giving it a hand as well._DSC4199-2Many of our sightings were of Florida’s resident bald eagles, hence the “Soaring with Eagles” blog post title._DSC4215-2We photograph lots of bald eagles in Alaska during our travels, so I’m always quite a bit fascinated by them.  Everyone expects bald eagles in Alaska, or migratory ones in eastern Washington state or other known migratory paths.  Few know that Florida actually has the most bald eagles in the lower 48 states.  On top of that … ours are primarily residents, not just migratory. _DSC4438-2Whenever I’m traveling in my car from south Florida to the north, I can almost always count on spotting on them along the way, to which a “BALDIES!” scream comes out of me.  LOL._DSC4219-2Hard to believe that these iconic birds, our national bird and symbol, were once so endangered and their numbers were so few.  It’s an incredible story about recovery once restrictions and protections are implemented.  It makes the “doubters” of recovery efforts have difficulty defending that stance.  _DSC4366-2The earlier images were all adult bald eagles, which sport that iconic white head and white tail feathers.  The next two images show the bald eagles in their sub-adult phase, clearly lacking that fully white head and fully white tail.  In Florida, if someone tells you that they saw a golden eagle, it was probably a sub-adult baldie.

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I don’t know why, but I always find the sub-adult feathers quite fascinating and beautiful.  Of course, whether fully adult, sub-adult, or even young eaglets, their talons are always amazing and mesmerizing to me._DSC4394-2Probably my favorite thing about bald eagles is their call.  Once you hear it once, you’ll never forget it.  _DSC4266-2Of course, our time in the wilderness wasn’t just about the eagles … but also other birds, such as another favorite of mine, the sandhill cranes.  Flying over in (a sort of) V-formation is a thrill to witness and of course their bugling when in flight, in landing, in take-off, or in dance, sends a big smile across my face._DSC4207-2_DSC4243-2Sightings of eastern phoebe are also common along the way.  So cute, aren’t they?  They are also quite fascinating too.  Did you know that an eastern phoebe sings a perfect song without having to “practice” it?  Also, what was the first bird ever to be banded well over a century ago?  Yep, the eastern phoebe._DSC4392-2Now, how could a day be complete with a “coot convention” sighting?  LOL_DSC4345-2So overall, it was a fun weekend of birding in central Florida and of course, soaring with the eagles.  One more beauty to share._DSC4367-2Hope that everyone enjoyed the blog post.

Next up:  More local birding adventures … from Florida … it’s what’s for winter, after all.

© 2016  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography

 

Sunrise … Sunset … At “The Garden”

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Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is always a favorite destination of ours when we visit Colorado.  There’s something beautiful about how the light plays on the red rock formations, especially when surrounded also by the green vegetation.

So, come with us as we explore the area … starting of course with an early morning sunrise.  Rather than viewing the sunrise from the park itself, we choose a higher elevation, so that we can look down upon the magic as it happens.  🙂  Looking down at Gray Rock, South Gateway Rock, and North Gateway Rock, as the sun lights them up.

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The same for the Glen Eyrie formations to the north.DSC_5517 Always a favorite is the Kissing Camel formation within North Gateway Rock.  See it?  It’s on the top, about 1/3 of the way from the left.  🙂DSC_5520

As the sun begins to rise, as you can see we’re in an overlook parking area, but there is a community of homes hehind us.  How wonderful would it be to be able to peer over your fence and witness this sunrise every day!DSC_5556 DSC_5574

The best way to see the park is VERY EARLY in the morning.  You can almost have it to yourself … before the herds of tourists arrive and climb all over Balanced Rock here doing silly stuff like Tom is illustrating here.  LOL.  OK, it was difficult to get Tom to pose like this for me, not to mention to hold up that big old boulder, so don’t tell him that I put this shot in this post …  😉

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The park was donated to the city of Colorado Springs with the condition that it always remain free of charge for all to enjoy.  DSC_5596 One of our favorite views in the park is this one, which frames perfectly the image of Pikes Peak in the distance … yes, the same 14,000+ feet mountain from my most recent post.  Of course, it’s still a distance away.DSC_5605 They call this formation the Siamese Twins, which is obviously how it got its name, and you can see that window I used for framing.  Again, if you don’t get there early, you will never get an image without lots of people in it.DSC_5607

This place is full of textures to highlight in an image … the rough surface of the rocks, the trees, the puffy white clouds … so beautiful!DSC_5610

Midday is difficult to shoot the area, so we left but returned later in the day.  This image is of the Garden area and it’s a favorite of mine.  I just love the colors and the way that the light casts shadows on the landscape.

DSC_5351 We decided to hike around a bit and found it to be a bit crowded, but as you can see, you could easily find areas where you could compose and find that you’re alone in that process.

DSC_5388 I always find paths and stairs to be so inviting … makes you wonder where it goes … what’s around the corner.DSC_5397DSC_5398 Though the area is famous for the red rock formations, there are also several white rocks which intrigue the visitor as well and the light dances and shines nicely upon them.DSC_5417 Probably my favorite image from this years visit is the one below.   I mean, look at those clouds in the backdrop of the rising red rock formation.  This perspective, believe it or not, was courtesy of several visitors who were in the area, so I got low to block them from my shot.  Love the way it turned out.  DSC_5437 Being that it was summer, the wildflowers were out as well.DSC_5445 Though we wanted to stay for full on sunset, an intense storm decided it would come join the party, so we left and went back into town.  Good thing too, as it was a big one.DSC_5480

Next up:  More from Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

More From the Matanzas Tern Colony

In mid-June, I had an itch to return back to the least tern nests of St. Augustine Beach.  So my childhood friend, Kim, and I drove up to Jacksonville to also visit my daughter for the night.  In the morning, we left for the colony.  When we arrived, it was at first much like earlier … lots of least terns bringing in, and flying around with, fish intended for the females.

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As per last week, sometimes the female still didn’t take the male up on his offer.

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“Wait … you forgot to take the fish!”!  LOL

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It wasn’t just the least terns that were calling the beach home, the Wilson’s plover also had nests and young ones in the roped off nesting areas as well.

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I did finally get to see a few of the least tern chicks as well, though they were mainly covered up or huddled next to one of the parents.

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Again, it was a bit scary when both of the parents would fly off and leave the young chick exposed.

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While some of the baby birds were out in the open, sometimes the parents strategically placed their young one in the grasses, which provided for a bit of protection for the little ones.

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During breaks in all of the action, some least tern preening was always on tap.

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When all else failed, there was a never-ending supply of males flying around with fish.  When the females would turn them down, sometimes they would just land nearby and devour it themselves.

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It’s my hope that the young ones survived their early days, when they were very vulnerable to predators and mother nature in general.

Wanted to squeeze in another trip to see them, but I had to get on the road with Tom for his cycling competitions.

Want more burrowing owls?  Well, stay tuned.   🙂

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Sunrise & Terns

I have always wanted to photograph the least terns as they nest and raise their young on the beaches in Florida.  My good friend Jess knew this so she promised to keep me in the loop when the time was right to do just that.  At the end of May, I was visiting our home in Gainesville and got up super early to meet her over in St. Augustine for not only the least terns, but early enough to try out a sunrise as well.

While I wasn’t sure what kind of sunrise we were going to get, being that the skies were threatening and rain was most definitely in the forecast, we figured that we would try anyway.  At first, the skies didn’t want to cooperate with the sunrise colors, but before long it got pretty good.

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I just love the sand dunes on the beaches in NE Florida … reminds me of my days at UF and the many weekends spent at the beaches of St. Augustine as well.

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Such a beautiful beach, complete with a bit of a rocky shoreline in certain places.  I could have stayed here longer, but that wasn’t why we were up there.  Our quest was to see the terns, so off we went.

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As excited as we were to photograph the least terns, they were quite excited seeing us as well.  OK, not quite the same thing, but we quickly settled down into our shooting spot and the birds soon calmed down knowing that we were not a threat to them nor their nests.

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There was a lot of fish offering to the female going on … and to the male’s dismay, not much taking of the fish.  There wouldn’t be much “hanky panky” going on this morning.  Perhaps we were a bit early still.

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Many of the least tern pairs were sitting on eggs … we could tell because they were fidgeting around when protecting them from the elements – heat especially, but also from the various predators whom might want to take their eggs.

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Once in a while, even though tending to the guarding of the eggs, they would get spooked and momentarily fly away.  I would always get so nervous when they did.

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Perhaps one of the most fascinating behavioral displays that I witnessed was their reaction to the resident ghost crabs in the area.  While many of the least terns were fighting amongst each other (over nest sites, a stray male offering a fish to the wrong female, some other mated pair getting too close, or a photographer moving too close or quickly), they sure knew how to unite for the cause when encountered with a potential threat to the entire colony.  Enter the ghost crab….

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Wings immediately go up in defense by the terns, as they call out incessantly to each other and I imagine scream at the crab as it makes its way.  Support comes in as they tag team against the crab, who in turn tries to defend itself as well.

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They take turns … on the ground and in the air.  LOL

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I was surprised at just how close that they get to the crab, who possesses some pinchers that I’m sure could inflict some pain.

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Every once in a while, one of the terns would get startled by the crab and would try to quickly retreat by flying away.  It’s quite entertaining to watch.

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But eventually the crab would retreat or make its way through the mine field of terns – all ready to defend their turf.  Funny because the terns are just part-time residents of the beaches, while the crab is residential to the area.  🙂

In the meanwhile, more fish are flown in to the available females, and more rejections follow.

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I visited the colony twice … once on this day and again a few weeks later.  More images will follow in the next blog post, so stay tuned!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

2 Owl Species & A Porcupine :-)

I LOVE OWLS!!!  All kinds of owls … from the burrowing … to the barred … to the great horned … to the snowy … to the great gray … to the barn … and yes, to the eastern screech owl … endorphins release in my brain when I think about them.  (Side note for those of you who read my blog post on my neighborhood eastern screech owls … we heard them last night calling out to each other, so they’re still here … all is good again).

So when I had the opportunity to potentially get to photograph not just one, but two new species for me, I was quite the excited photographer!  So off we went, thanks to a great friend of mine.

It wasn’t long either until we spotted the first one … the long-eared owl.  Isn’t he just gorgeous?  I laugh because when I first saw it, I think that I had a similar facial expression … wide-eyed and intense.

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These long-eared owls are quite amazing.  So very beautiful with their rufous facial disc with that distinctive white patch under their bill.  They remind me a lot of the great horned owls, but they’re smaller, standing about 13-16″ and weighing about 8.5 oz.

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They have asymmetrical ear openings.  The left ear is higher than the right, which helps them better locate their prey by sound.

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I could have stayed there photographing them for the rest of our trip … they were that mesmerizing to me.  🙂  Interesting also to note is that the male’s hoot can sometimes be heard quite the distance … more than 1/2 mile away!  It would be like playing a game of “Marco”-“Polo” trying to find them by just sound.

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They are unlike other owls in that during the winter months, they nest in a communal fashion with others in the nearby vicinity, in the thick brush and trees.  It’s easy to see how they got their name too … like bunny rabbit ears almost.  LOL.  Can’t help but wonder about their success in nesting and what their babies look like.

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While out looking for owls, we saw many other birds, like this meadowlark … doing what meadowlarks do … singing away.  We also saw more northern harriers than I have ever seen collectively in my lifetime.  It was amazing!

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But let’s get back to the owls.  Another lifer for me were the short-eared owls.  They reminded me a lot of the northern harriers too as they cruised the same type of landscapes foraging for food.

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As with other owls, they glided gracefully and with such ease low over the landscape.  As opposed to the long-eared owls, these had very small ear tufts.  Also a medium-sized owl, their head has a pale buff facial disc, with black around the eyes, which of course, are that magnificent yellow.

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Aerial displays during courtship must be fascinating to observe, though it was too early for that when we were there.  These owls nest on the ground on a mound or slight raise of the land, laying about 3-11 eggs.

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While usually spotted flying erratically around, once in awhile they do land and seemingly pose for the camera.  Thankfully.  🙂

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As if those owl sightings weren’t enough for me, we were also treated to the cutest porcupine hanging out, feeding, on a nearby tree.

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I’m always fascinated by them and this guy was quite far up the tree, so I felt safe.  LOL.  Of course, porcupine don’t “throw” their quills like many are lead to believe, but to me, their sheer presence wants to make me respect their “comfort zone”.

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Now this guy, though adorable with those big orange teeth, was only semi-cooperating with us.  Sure the light was perfect, but that dang branch always seeming to cover up his face and eyes partially.

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So we asked for some divine intervention.  Actually Jen asked the porcupine to kindly remove that pesky branch for us, so that we might get a better shot.  I had no idea that I was with, apparently, the “Porcupine Whisperer”.  Within literally a few seconds, would you believe that the porcupine did just that?  No joke!

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Now that’s a face that everyone can both see, enjoy, and love!  What an ending to our day exploring … Owls and Porcupines … yeah,this was an awesome day!

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Not sure how it can get better for me, but rest assured it does!

Next stop:  Grand Teton National Park!  Stay tuned.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

A Sunday Drive (or it might have been Saturday … who knows) :-)

Springtime in Florida has many advantages … especially when it comes to the weather.  Sure it’s hotter than most in other areas of the country, but it sure feels good to those of us who know too well the heat and humidity that is to come.

Every so often, Tom & I take a day drive to another area to see what we can find.  For me, it’s about photography, for him, it might be more about just getting around to see new stuff.  On this day, we were immediately greeted by this lovely Eastern Meadowlark … just singing away his welcome song.  🙂

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Low and behold we also ran into another whooping crane … though this one is a Florida resident.  Here it is hanging out with a few local cows.

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As I observed it, I noticed that it seemed quite attached to one particular cow.  Eventually, as the visiting sandhill cranes came around that particular cow, it got quite possessive and appeared to charge the cranes.

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Wild turkeys were also present along the side of the highway grazing in the grasses.

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Always a joy to watch soaring overhead are the Crested Caracara.  On this day, there was a pair catching some thermals, along with some of the black vultures.

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One of the most entertaining series of images was this wood stork trying to swallow a fillet of fish.  Try as it may, it wasn’t going down easy.

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It would repeatedly try to swallow it, then spit it out, re-grab and re-position it, and attempt to eat it all over again …

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… repeatedly ….

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After observing it for about 20 minutes, and it was struggling, we decided that it might not happen while we waited, so off we went.

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Let’s go check on a bald eagle nest that I’ve heard about also.  Seems like the young eaglet is in the nest and beginning to flap its wings a bit, though certainly not ready to fly.

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It simply sits at the nest waiting for one of its parents to fly in with some food for it to eat.

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Always a highlight each spring is the sighting of my first swallow-tailed kit.  Such a symbol to me of what Florida stands for … I have never understood why it or the Florida Scrub Jay weren’t selected as our state bird … I mean, a northern mockingbird, really … what were they thinking?

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Well, I guess it could have been this … 🙂  Found a bunch of these running around on that drive too.

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Such is the life on a weekend drive in Florida during the spring.  Hope that you enjoyed.

Stay tuned … next, we head outside of the state line … all of the way to MT, WY, and UT!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Yes, 2014 Was A Very Good Year!

I think one of my favorite times of the year is the New Year.  For some, it’s about making BIG party plans and ringing in the new year with champagne toasts, dancing, and fireworks.  For me, it’s a much more reflective time … a time to take stock in the year’s adventures, personal achievements, challenges conquered along the way perhaps … and especially a time to look forward … to 2015!

I made a promise at the beginning of 2014 – to take the time needed to travel at least quarterly.  I wanted to experience new places, new adventures, new friends, and of course, new challenges.  I had some personal goals related to even this blog and I’m happy to say that I think that I accomplished most of them.  As usual, travel and photography went hand in hand and played a large role in my life for 2014.  I’ll try to re-cap some of it – very briefly – here.

I travel so much with Tom, aka my husband and “sherpa”, and I began to wonder if I could make it into the wilderness shooting without him.  LOL.  So, while he went off to snowboard for weeks on end, I decided to head out to Yellowstone NP in the dead of the winter (Jan) without him.  I wanted to see “what I was made of” … and to my surprise, I realized that when I needed to get it done myself, I actually could!  In addition, I made a bunch of wonderful friends as well on Daniel Cox’s Natural Exposure Invitational Photo Tour.

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For 4 months (Jan thru Apr), I had the pleasure of discovering that a pair of eastern screech owls had taken up residence in our owl boxes, but they graced us with raising 3 baby owlets as well.  I have to admit that it was a challenge, but the experience was incredible!  I’ll never forget my astonishment and joy when we peeked in, via a small “Go Pro-like” camera and saw 3 tiny furry owls, all bopping and circling their heads as owls do.  My heart melted and my love for owls immediately soared!

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In Feb we joined my daughter and her husband for some snowboarding/skiing in UT and a bit of photography as well.  I spent a few days at Antelope Island SP capturing bison, deer,  pronghorn, eagle, coyote, porcupine, and other images.  Loved it!

_DSC7954 _DSC8107 Of course, Everglades NP is always just around the corner for us, so several trips to photograph the migratory and resident birds were part of our year.

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Orlando Wetlands Park was a new location for me Jess was gracious enough to show it to me one day.

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We also made it up to Vero Beach and Blue Cypress Lake for some osprey photography with Jess and Michael … always a pleasure.

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In April, we flew out to Denver and made the circuit between Denver, Colorado Springs (Garden of the Gods), Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, Monument Valley, Moab, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Dead Horse Point SP, and eventually Rocky Mountain NP.  For part of the trip, we met up with Rodney Lange for some landscape shooting, including some night photography.  We had such a great time!

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From May to June, the early mornings and early evenings were filled with burrowing owl photography, as we’re blessed with having many burrows within 30 minutes of our home.  To spend hours with the parents and their young and literally watch them grow up before our eyes is always a thrill and an honor.

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Another endearing time was had in June when I almost got to witness the hatching of a newborn sandhill crane colt.  I say almost because my friends and I witnessed the cracking of the egg, the hole in the egg enlarging, but the threatening skies kept us from the “whole enchilada” as they say.  The next morning we were thrilled to photograph the newborn colt as it already toured around the wetlands with both of its parents.  Yes, I’m also a craniac for sure!  (Shout out to Monique!)

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A quick trip to the Palouse was also made, since I was already in San Diego for work.  The rolling hills of the farmlands and the shadows cast during sunrise and sunset provide for variations on the landscape … always beautiful.

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“The mountains are calling, so I must go” … for me that was the message I received from the Canadian Rockies.  In late June and early July, we traveled within Alberta and British Columbia to Yoho NP, Jasper NP, Banff NP, Lake Louise, Waterton Lakes NP, as well as Glacier NP in Montana.  Landscapes to die for were around every corner and amazing wildlife, as well as the company of good friends … I didn’t want to leave.

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Our last “big trip” was to Alaska, on our 8th trip.  It was as good as any of the others … and in some ways, even better.  From photographing the brown bears of the Russian River area, to flying out for a few days of Katmai NP bears (my personal favorites) – in the company of fellow photographer and friend Tom Blandford, to touring Valdez and kayaking the ice caves, to crossing for the first time the Denali Highway on our way to Denali NP and being treated to incredible scenery along the way during the day and the mystique of the northern lights in the darkness of the night, and finally varied conditions while staying at Denali NP, including a winter snowstorm … it was all a blast.  All that while catching up with our Alaskan friends.  🙂

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It seemed fitting that on Dec. 20th, I returned to the Deering Estate to photograph the winter equinox and it’s sunrise … OK, I know that was one day early, but who cares, it was fabulous either way.

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So, as you can see, 2014 was an amazing year for us and one that will be hard to beat.  Of course, we’ll give it our best to do so.  As I reflect on my goals for this new year, I can assure you that 2015 will have some exciting adventures and big events as well, so stay tuned for more.

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Wishing everyone a wonderful and healthy 2015, with lots of photographic opportunities either in solitude or in the presence of friends (both good), but always one with nature.  🙂

Regards,

Debbie & Tom Tubridy (TNWA Photography)