My World That Surrounds Me

In late fall/early winter, the Grand Valley area of western Colorado plays host to a variety of migrating birds.  Of course, one of my favorites are the sandhill cranes.  It’s not unusual to see groups of 1,000 or more in the early morning or pre-dusk hours, as they roost in the farmlands.  Mostly we see adults, though sometimes you get a few teenagers.

DSC_6171-Edit-2Whenever I see sandhill cranes, I’m immediately taken back to one of my first encounters of fields of them, back at Creamer’s Field in Fairbanks, AK.  There’s few sights or sounds as beautiful as congregating and celebrating sandhills.  Don’t even get me going as to how fabulous they are when courting.  🙂DSC_6223-Edit-Edit-2Home in Colorado now, I’ve had my share of “new” birds.  Now this doesn’t mean that these birds are “lifers” for me, but to have them share my immediate surroundings, has been a thrill.  One of them that I take great joy in viewing is the Steller’s Jay.  Such attitude it seems to possess with that fancy crested ‘do … I always stop to grab a shot or two when I see them.DSC_6503-Edit-2DSC_6516-2Often hanging out with the jays are the Clark’s Nutcrackers … also in the jay family, they’re quite social and beautiful as well.DSC_6384-2DSC_6413-2To say that I’ve seen my fair share of the Canada Goose is an understatement.  Some days it seems as though every field or body of water is filled with them.  I’ve delighted in watching and yes, hearing them as they arrive to any given lake or such.  Calling out, organizing themselves in that V-formation that they’re known for, as well as performing acrobatic maneuvers as they approach their landing … it’s all been fascinating to be part of.DSC_7463-Edit-Edit-2Now perhaps I’ve seen snow geese before, but if I did I probably didn’t realize what they were.  The snow goose has been a thrill to observe as well, though for the most part, I’ve found them to be a bit frustrating to photograph at a close proximity.  LOL.  Oh well, I’m sure that they don’t care.DSC_8480-2One day, though, they treated me to some nice captures.  Just wished that they spread themselves out a bit. DSC_8500-Edit-Edit-2I just loved the way they swam about, walked the shoreline, preened themselves, and took floating naps on the waters surface.  So very beautiful they were._DSC3771-Edit-2Not a stranger to me was the pied-billed grebes which I see regularly in Colorado as well as I did in Florida.DSC_8671-2When the white-crowned sparrow is in the area, you cannot ignore or mistake its song, movement, or sight.  Though I’ve seen them in FL occasionally, they seem to be everyday sightings here.  DSC_8694-Edit-Edit-2The Western scrub jay, which is now referred to as the Woodhouse’s scrub jay, is another bird that I’ve taken a delight to.  This particular one was taken on a very cold day, so it was a bit fluffed up, resembling more of a mountain bluebird!  LOLDSC_8843-Edit-2Now all of these birds already shared doesn’t mean that there aren’t any 4-legged wildlife out in the area.  How about this one?  Honestly, it was one of the most beautiful (or handsome) coyotes I had ever seen.  ❤DSC_8740-2One last look back at me before it trotted off into the wilderness.  Loved it!DSC_8745-2Cousins to the bighorn sheep, only a smaller version, the desert bighorn sheep are always a fun way to spend a day.  By now, the females have most likely dropped their young, so this shot reminds me that I need to return to the scene to check things out again.DSC_9072-2Of course this area is home to many herds of mule deer.  This particular guy had one of the most fascinating, though quite odd, set of antlers.  Has anyone ever seen anything like that before?  I mean, within the mule deer?DSC_6298-2About an hour or so east of Fruita is the town of Rifle, CO, home to Rifle Falls State Park.  Rifle Falls is a triple waterfall amidst the natural stone formations found in the area.  So unique and quite a thrill to photograph when the frost forms on the accompanying rocks and vegetation._DSC3697-2_DSC3699-2So, I hope that you enjoyed a peek into the beauty that surrounds me in western Colorado.  As I now enter a 3rd season here, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  🙂

Next Up:  The San Juan Mountains

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography


Nothing Like An Off-Road Adventure

When one lives in the Grand Valley area of western Colorado, it’s only natural to seek an all-out off-road adventure … especially  when you know exactly the person that can make it happen for you.  So, Tom & I met up with our good friend Rick Louie and made plans to do just that.  Off we went towards Moab for some sunset and/or night photography in Arches National Park in Utah.  So that was the plan anyways.  We soon found out that the park was having night closures due to road improvement construction.  So much for that so off we went to dinner to plan our days and routes.

Rick was anxious to share a super cool location with us, so we met up early in the morning so that we could arrive at our destination for the sunrise.  The road to the lookout spot definitely need an off-road high clearance vehicle … OK by me, as we had the place to ourselves.IMG_5498Yep, we arrived just in time for the sunrise and what a sunrise it was.  The rays of the sun were shining from a break in the clouds and casting beautiful light on Rick as he grabbed  was checking out the landscape for the best angle and composition.  OK, so truth be told, this and several other images in this blog were actually taken with my iPhone!  Yes, though I had my camera gear with me, sometimes the moment called for an impromptu quick shot.  Like this one … sometimes these moments only last for a brief time.IMG_E5506Rick was explaining the location and sights for orientation purposes to Tom, but all I saw was beauty ahead of me.IMG_5493-Edit-EditThis place was so incredibly immense and beautiful.  Tom, always one to venture off on his own for his own views, gave this shot great perspective of the red rock formations._DSC3385-EditOf course, no day’s adventure would ever be complete without Tom giving me heart failure as he sits precariously on the edge!  There is NO WAY that I could have sat there.  LOL_DSC3445-EditIt was hard enough for me to sit down with Tom on the edge together.  What appears to be a casual moment with Tom’s arm lovingly around me, he probably actually had a tight grip on me, as I have a tremdous fear of heights.  Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t challenge that fear, I do, but it definitely doesn’t come easy for me.  Thanks so much to Rick for taking this amazing shot!IMG_0378Outside of Moab, we chose another off-road trail for a mid-day adventure.  This was a gorgeous drive up a canyon, with sheer red rock formations on either or both sides, as it meandered for miles and miles._DSC3587A small creek ran alongside it and it reminded me of a miniature “braided river”.  Being in the high desert, not much water was present, but I’m sure the channels formed allow for the flow of volumes of water when it rains._DSC3616-Edit-EditIMG_5561-EditBefore reaching an open space full of farmland, we stopped and grabbed a few images of the beauty of this wilderness.IMG_5589_DSC3660For another experience, we ventured out again for more off-road fun.  Rick was a fabulous and skilled driver and on occasion I would get out to try to get some shots of the action.  Bonus … look at those amazing clouds that also came out to play.  IMG_E5531_DSC3512On the last day, we met up with some incredible winds.  So they said that it would be windy, but I didn’t expect the winds that we had … out on the unprotected open slick rock of Hell’s Revenge … the winds were ripping at over 40mph!  This experience was so much fun … even if we didn’t venture into the “hot tubs”.  These were craters that crazy 4WD jeeps, etc, would enter and then drive out of, often flipping over and needing assistance to exit them.  Pictures just do it justice … if you can imagine, that hole is about 15-20 feet deep and pretty much just wide enough to get a vehicle in with very little room to spare.  Crazy, crazy, crazy!IMG_5678Thank you Rick for getting us over to the edge for some awesome Colorado River viewing below … even if I though I was going to blow off of it!  LOL.  It really was quite windy up there, but you couldn’t help but be exhilarated by the view.IMG_5642The wetting of the sun in the canyons provided for some beautiful views as well.DSC_7006-EditOn the tamer side of the trip was the Fisher Tower and Valley area and Parriott Mesa.IMG_5606Once again, the clouds came out to play in an incredibly beautiful way.  I can’t wait to get back out there again.  Thanks so much Rick for meeting up with us and sharing your off-road skills (and I do mean skills) with us.  Your driving was impeccable and the experience was top notch.  If anyone out there is interested in doing something like this, either here or many other areas in Colorado as well, I highly recommend Rick Louie for a great adventure experience._DSC3683-Edit-Edit-EditYes, Tom and I had a great time out there!  I really appreciate how close we are to this red rock wilderness area and beauty.  Until we return again … thanks Tom!IMG_5504Hope that everyone enjoyed the visit with us.  🙂

Next Up:  More local Colorado sights … and wildlife.

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

A New Year For The Burrowing Owls

Most everybody who knows me, is keenly aware that bears of all species are my favorite thing to photograph and spend time with.  Bears though, while not impossible to find in Florida, are not everyday subjects.  Lucky for me, owls are my next favorite subject and in Florida we’re fortunate to have several different species including the eastern screech,  great horned, barred, barn, and one of my personal favorites … the burrowing owl.  As in years past, I have been spending a lot of time with them, so if you like them like I do, get ready for several blog posts featuring these entertaining, expressive creatures.  🙂DSC_5965-EditIn Florida, the mating season begins sometime around February.  While full time residents of Florida, the fun with them usually begins at that time … and when their owlets first emerge from the safety of the burrow at about 2 weeks of age.  For the purpose of this first blog, these images are all adult owls, mostly just prior to mating for the season.  DSC_6332The burrowing owl is one of the smallest owls in Florida, standing about 9 inches tall with a wingspan of about 21 inches.  They lack ear tufts that some owls possess and as their name suggests, they live in established burrows in the ground.  Those burrows can be quite intricate too … with burrow tunnels reaching lengths of several feet.  They normally have bright yellow eyes, though in Florida it’s not unusual to have dark brown, light brown, or even olive green eyes.  As you can see in the image below, this couple illustrates the varied eye color.DSC_5858Their scientific name, Athene cunicularia, translates to mean “little digger” and it’s easy to see why … they are effective diggers and are often seen digging out the sand in the burrows.  Often the owls become unknown recipients of all of that sand and dirt.  LOLDSC_6184Burrowing owls in Florida are listed as a State Threatened species by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, thus are under much protection.  Therefore “taking, possessing, or selling burrowing owls, their nests (i.e., burrows), or eggs is prohibited without a permit (68A-27 F.A.C.)”.  Burrowing owls, eggs, and young are also protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Usually in the winter, they begin to pair up at various burrows.  Sometimes I know that it’s the same owls at the same burrow … sometimes a new partner will show up … sometimes it’s an entirely new couple.DSC_2858Either way, the behavior is the same.  Burrowing owls keep keen eyes on the skies above for potential predators or threats.  It’s amazing to me how they can perceive things long before I ever get the tiniest glimpse.DSC_2845The couples are actually quite affectionate together and offer food to one another …DSC_2884… and often nuzzle together as they pass the time together. DSC_2897Solitary and mutual grooming is part of the ritual too.  🙂DSC_2895Then there’s more of what seems to be an endless chore of housekeeping, and all of that flying dirt.  LOLDSC_2939I hope that you enjoyed the blog and will be back soon when the blog carries on with images and stories of the real stars … the new installment of this years baby owlets … with their downy fur, “hair plugs”, and clumsy ways.  They are the perfect way for me to pass the day … and they’re never short on expressions, attitudes, and fun!DSC_2955

Next Up:  My next favorite subject …. hmmm … what could it be?  Check in to find out!

© 2017  Debbie Tubridy


Mountains, Wildlife, & Wilderness … Who Could Ask For More?

Back in February, after our visit at Yellowstone NP in its most beautiful season for visitors, we eventually made our way to Grand Teton NP.  We stayed in Jackson Hole, WY, which in the winter is primarily filled with snow skiers and snowboarders, but for us, we were armed with camera gear and snowshoes.  Travel within the Tetons is a bit more accessible than Yellowstone in the winter.  When we first arrived, it was quite beautiful, with no place offering a nicer view of the mountain range than from Oxbow Bend._DSC7187The roads were still being plowed from a recent snowfall, which was expected.IMG_0612What we didn’t expect was the strong winds blowing the snow all over the place, making driving interesting and photography quite a challenge.IMG_0605Before long, we spotted a lone coyote making its way across the deep snow drifts.  It was fun to photograph it, and its shadow, as it ran.  It paid us no attention._DSC7234Warnings were out in force to “Slow Down!  Wildlife on Road”.  Loved that sign, which actually reminded me of a previous trip when we would see “share the road” signs, with images of vehicles, bicycles, snowmobiles, and animals.  Yes, we’re no longer in the metropolis known as South Florida.  🙂IMG_0614Along side of the river, Tom spotted this huge moose, by lower 48 standards anyways._DSC4187We did a quick turnaround and found that there were actually 3 moose present foraging near the rivers edge … a male across the river, along with a cow and her young._DSC7313We watched them for quite some time and for the most part, they totally ignored us.  They never seemed to interact with the male, however, they always stayed in the same general area.  _DSC7338Oops, looks like we’ve been spotted.  Mama’s not so sure, but junior doesn’t seem to mind.  In no time, they settled in._DSC7377_DSC7394_DSC7408What a fun encounter that was with the moose family and they really made it even nicer being along that river.

Before too long we came across some footprints in the snow … which we followed through our binoculars until we came across the culprit … this adorable sleeping red fox.  I must admit that Tom is a pretty good spotter with those binoculars.  🙂_DSC4310Towards the later afternoon, we thought that we would try our luck again with the mountain goats that were hanging out not too far away.  We also met up with some friends that were going to be in the Tetons pretty much the same time as us.  Sure enough, the goats, this time without all of the “jewelry” were out and about.  _DSC4517This time they were cooperating nicely too … climbing up on the rocky outcroppings and posing for some nice photographs._DSC4477Look at this amazing close up!  I was so excited when it reached the top of the mountain and positioned itself against the blue of the sky above.  What a beautiful creature.  Can’t believe that after I was skunked out of seeing them on Mt. Evans (the road was closed when we visited last summer), I finally got to see them!_DSC4357The King of the Mountain shot … after which many photographers left.  This was the moment they were waiting for, for hours!  Glad that our wait time was much shorter.  As they say … timing is everything!_DSC7773No trip to the Tetons is every complete without a red fox sighting.  This winter’s visit didn’t disappoint._DSC7942There’s something so striking about finding a beautiful red fox in the midst of a snow covered landscape.  So isolated … so open … so focused on the task at hand.  That is, until they spot the camera.  Usually the interruption is brief and they carry on with the hunt momentarily.  _DSC8081Same is true of the coyotes, which are relatively easy to spot as they roam the vast wilderness of white._DSC7927As if the wildlife opportunities aren’t enough, how about some stunning landscapes featuring those iconic mountains?  When I think of mountain ranges, my mind definitely thinks of the Tetons.  Such a magnificent place any time of year and the winter season is no exception._DSC7199 Yes, it’s safe to say that we could get used to life in this neck of the woods.  Sunshine, blue sky, wilderness, wildlife opportunities, mountains, and just about everything else that you could ask for.  Yep, I’ll take it.  🙂IMG_0625

Next Up:  More from the Tetons …

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography


The Winter Road Much Traveled

When visiting Yellowstone National Park in the winter, most of the roads are closed to vehicular traffic.  Therefore, to transition between Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP, we drove a familiar route through portions of Idaho.  It’s always full of adventure and photographic opportunities.

Trumpeter swans seemed to be just about everywhere.  Always appearing so elegant as they foraged in the waters, sometimes as a couple … sometimes solo._DSC6719In the midst of the silence of the winter, a Barrow’s Goldeneye flies by overhead._DSC6642Some of the wildlife subjects were happy to cooperate with my photo shoots, but not all, as evidenced by this young mule deer.  LOL_DSC6816Driving along the highway at about 75 mph (OK, I hope that we weren’t speeding), I happened to spot this great horned owl in a leafless tree along the road.  I had Tom double back and to my surprise, it was still there and cooperated for an image or two._DSC6819As fun as it was to see the great horned owl, we have those in Florida.  It had always been my dream to get a saw whet owl, so we went off in search of one, with the help of a great friend.  We searched for quite some time and I thought it wasn’t going to happen.  All of a sudden, I got word that she had found it.  There it was … just the cutest thing ever … well, it would have been without that darn branch in front of it.  No worries, it was my first and I’ll take it._DSC6945Look at those adorable eyes … so mesmerizing and captivating.  I could have stayed in its presence forever, but alas, we had to get on our way.  As I said, it was my first, but I certainly hope not my last._DSC6977-2The next morning, we tried to venture out to have more bird encounters, but Mother Nature had other ideas.  When we arrived to the wildlife refuge, we could see signs of wildlife being present ….IMG_0561… but in reality, we really couldn’t see ANYTHING around us.  I’m talking total whiteout situation, wind blowing and all.  Oh well, I guess it wasn’t mean to be.  Before Tom would risk driving off the dirt road berms, I thought it best to save the drive for another time.IMG_0559Now, for those of you who read the blog from Mt. Evans last summer, you might remember how bummed I was when we arrived and found the summit road to Mt. Evans closed for repairs.  Tom heroically rode his mountain bike up to the top and got some shots of the mountain goats for me … but I wanted MY OWN!!!

Well, my turn came when we spotted some on the mountainside, in the snow, a bit outside of the Tetons.  I was thrilled to see them, though they were adorned with collars and tags (i.e. ear jewelry).  Again, I was simply excited to see and photograph them, so I just blocked out those annoying features on them._DSC7105_DSC7170The young ones of course didn’t have the tagging on them, so they were fun to catch images of, as they made their way in the snow while following their moms._DSC7159_DSC6986Though they were a bit shaggy, they were still fabulous.  I hoped at this time that we would see them again on our way back out over the pass.  Fingers crossed anyways.  🙂_DSC7063Yes, we had a great time, not only photographing the wildlife of the area.  We also found a great new sushi restaurant … YUM!!!

Next Up:  Jackson Hole & Grand Teton National Park

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography


The Silence & Beauty of A Yellowstone Winter

As I mentioned in the last blog post, sometimes the heat comes early to south Florida, and I have to get away to cool down.  Tom always goes out west with his buddies on an annual snowboard trip in January, so what better time to meet up with him on a side trip to Yellowstone NP.

From the first time, 2 years ago, when I visited Yellowstone NP in the dead of winter, I knew how incredibly special it was … the silence, the cold, the lack of visitors, the winter wildlife … all make for an experience that you won’t soon forget.  There’s something so beautiful about encountering the wildlife in the snow, such as this healthy coyote, with its thick winter coat._DSC6085Some areas of the park in early February were already starting to have sporadic snow cover, which allowed the bighorn sheep to be able to dig in the sparse snow cover and find lichens and new shoots of grasses to feed upon._DSC5227_DSC5304The rams seemed to be out in force too this year._DSC5719I’ve always been fascinated by bighorn sheep, especially their eyes, which are so hypnotic to me.  They are often locked on us, while they graze or simply chew on the hillside._DSC5324When photographing wildlife out in the wilderness, sometimes patience is required.  For this particular image, I remained in place and tried to stay calm and relaxed, hoping for him to climb higher to the crest of the hill, so that I could get that amazing blue sky as the backdrop to show him off.  Yes, patience can sometimes be rewarded.  🙂_DSC5154Bighorn sheep have horns, which I like to refer to as curls, which they keep lifelong.  Consequently, those horns carry the story of the life that the sheep has lived, including all of its battles.  I often stare at them and wish that I could be privy to the animals life history._DSC5344This year, we found a lot of fox roaming around.  Most were hunting near the roads or off on the trails, mousing in the deep snow, or resting along a log.  However, this red fox was spotted in the crack of high rocky landscape … an unusual sighting for us for sure.  _DSC5454Reportedly it was hanging out in the area for a bit, then disappeared for a few days after a coyote was found hunting nearby.  We were sure happy to see that it returned just in time for us to observe and photograph it._DSC5473It would give us so many expressions and poses, but one thing is for sure … it sure was quite comfy way up there._DSC5495The eyes of the red fox are also quite beautiful and I get so excited when our eyes meet as they travel past us.    _DSC5569On one of our days, we were having a wonderful sunny early morning … until it turned cloudy, windy, and cold … until it turned into blizzard-like conditions.  It was like someone would open and close the “wind tunnel door”.  It made me appreciate what these animals have to endure during the winter months and how difficult their survival was._DSC5721Massive in size, but slow in movement (unless perturbed) is the bison.  They were seemingly everywhere along the valley road and would often be spotted walking the road … otherwise known as the “path of least resistance”.  Otherwise, they could be spotted off in the distance in search of food and running water._DSC6152An image that I really wanted to capture this winter was that of the bison, with its face covered in the snow, so incredibly iconic of Yellowstone in the midst of winter.  I was amazed at how the snow would cake up on their fur … though it was caked up on the photographers who were braving the snow and blowing wind as well._DSC6188Bison are actually quite smart in that in their search for food, they swing their heads from side to side as they made their way through the snow, making a clearing for them to try to find some food to eat._DSC6208When they would lift their heads, that iced-over face image is the result.  I think that I accomplished my goal of the snowy faced bison.  🙂_DSC6231-2As we were leaving, a coyote appeared and seemed to be inquisitive as to why we were leaving so soon.  Don’t worry there Mr. Coyote … we’ll be back for several more days._DSC5391In the winter, the sunset comes early … and spectacularly.  The perfect ending to a perfect few days so far in the north end of Yellowstone NP in the winter … I think my favorite season.  With all of the “eye candy” I saw today, I know that I’ll have sweet dreams tonight._DSC4030Next Up:  More images and stories from Yellowstone NP … but from the West Yellowstone entrance.

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography


I Didn’t Forget About Denali NP (Who Could?)

How do you know when you’re going to have a great time in Denali National Park?  Of course … when your first image goes something like this … how can you miss!  Denali is always an amazing place, but when you combine the beauty of the Denali wildlife & wilderness with the arrival of the fall colors and add a dash of sensing the beginning of the moose rut, this is what you get.


Of course, on our first day in Denali NP, we were also greeted by the feeling of the arrival of winter as well!


Now some visitors might have been quite bummed to have this greeting waiting for them, but when you reside in the heat and humidity, you tend to be quite excited!  SNOW! … and lots of it!  (Thanks to Rebecca Tifft for snapping this image of Tom & I for us)


Denali NP is unique in that one can only explore the first 15 miles in their own vehicle.  After reaching Savage River, one can only travel to the interior of the park on a bus … whether it be an interpretive one or simply a shuttle bus.  But that doesn’t mean that awesome views and wildlife can’t be found in those first 15 miles.  The clouds in the skies provided for amazing landscapes.

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Shortly after Savage River, one starts to look for caribou, amongst other wildlife.  In the late summer/early fall, the bulls may still have their velvet covered antlers or the velvet may have already been shed, leaving their antlers to be quite bloody looking.


Bears are also quite often seen right outside your shuttle window.  This particular one was walking along the braided river and eventually entered the river to cross it.  Funny … if you look closely, it seems as those this one has white nails.  Apparently, they can have a variety of claw colors, though I found this one quite unusual.  LOL


Sometimes, they are quite far away.  However, the sight of observing this sow and her 2 cubs, as they travelled across the snow covered landscape was pleasing to me.  Gives the viewer a sense of the vastness of the land … as well as the harshness of the winter-like conditions that they and the other wildlife endure.


It wasn’t our first snowfall experienced in Denali, in fact once we had snowfall in July!  You just can’t predict the weather in Alaska … especially in Denali.  What you can predict is that you’ll be treated to some of the best wildlife viewing in the US.  When you get to see the animals in the midst of the snow-covered landscape, you’ll also know that you hit the jackpot!


The landscape itself looks so dramatically different in the snow too, whether dusted with a thin cover of snow or dumped upon, it’s all quite breathtaking.


The iconic view from Stony Hill Overlook is quite different in the snow, but still remarkable.  Now that I think about though … it’s always different no matter what time you visit.  Sometimes you get full mountain (Mt McKinley, aka Denali), which we did on several days while we were there, sometimes you get no view at all, and sometimes you get this partial view.


And the viewing of Denali constantly changes throughout the day, so you can never give up on trying your luck (except of course when it’s dumping snow relentlessly, as it was on our first evening in the park).  🙂


Unique images of the wildlife, desperate to continue to get their fill of nutrition before this unanticipated snow storm becomes an expected daily event, make for amazing photo opportunities.

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Photo ops … it’s not just for the bears … as this adorable red fox entertains us with its own “vogue” looks as well.


In the early evening, the snow cover from the night before had already began to melt, thanks to the clear skies which usually follow the snow’s nasty skies.  More bull caribou are encountered dining on the autumn-kissed tundra.  Below is actually a great example of how the bulls might have their velvet (on left), or may have previously shed their velvet already (on right).  Like most things in nature, everything progresses at its own pace.  The females which are pregnant later in the season will keep her antlers, while the other females as well as the bulls, will eventually shed them after the mating season.


The moose rut usually takes place later in September or early October, so lots of bull moose begin to arrive near the front of the park (i.e. those first 15 miles) about this time and begin to jockey for superiority and the sweetest females.  🙂


Often at this time the females will hang out with other females.  Sometimes they are followed closely by a bull that might be in pursuit.  The bulls are quite patient and wait until the time is right.

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Of course, the sunsets of Denali NP are also a sought after image, though I find myself torn between pursuing wildlife images OR the landscapes … Decisions, Decisions, Decisions … and a nice “problem” to have.  Wouldn’t you agree?


Stay tuned:  More to come from Denali NP and its grandeur.  I promise, I won’t make anyone wait that long either.  🙂

© 2014  TNWA Photography


Third Time’s A Charm – Yellowstone NP

NOTE:  This blog was written in conjunction with my winter Yellowstone NP trip.  It was Part 3 of 4 total blog posts.  Recently, I happened to notice that it never was actually published.  Since I’m currently in the middle of an important work week, I thought it would be a good time to share it.  Hope that you enjoy.  🙂


As we entered our 3rd day in Yellowstone NP, we were treated to lots of steamy landscapes and a light magical dusting of snow, all with full bluebird skies.



Whether it was the backlit trumpeter swans floating on the river or the sparkling bokeh serving as the perfect background for icicle-laden pine needles, it was absolutely amazing.



On this morning, we not only photographed mature mated pairs of trumpeter swans, but also were fortunate enough to get shots of sub-adult swans as well.  It was quite interesting to see how their appearance transforms as they mature.




On our way south in the park, we stopped at Norris Geyser Basin to take in some of the sights.  I must say that this area was absolutely stunning in the winter time, as the thermal grounds combined with the cold air made for some fascinating atmosphere.




Again, it was amazing weather … which made for stunning images and an enhanced experience for the observer.



We were treated to an awesome, though fairly distant, sighting of a red fox.  At first we thought it was a coyote, but I was pleasantly surprised.  We photographed it as it hunted on the open expanse of snow.  OK, I do believe that I might have squealed with delight with its antics … sit …leap straight up … dive head first … whip the hind legs over its head … land its hind legs … and pull out its head from the snow, hopefully with a tasty morsel.  A bit different than your typical coyote mousing scenario and probably more entertaining.






Courtesy of Daniel J. Cox

Courtesy of Daniel J. Cox

Snow and ice covered bison were also seen, as they traveled the bare landscape in search of food.


Finally we arrived to the Yellowstone iconic location … Old Faithful Geyser Basin … home to Old Faithful.  Now I’ve been here numerous times before, including once in the winter, but I have never seen it so peaceful and believe it or not, uncrowded.  It was such a pleasure to observe the eruption, not just once, but twice.  Since we got to see it twice, we did the traditional viewing (nearest the lodge) and then from the vantage point of the opposite side of the geyser.  Both offered different views, though both were remarkable.


The winds were really still, which was wonderful because often it’s not so still and the steam from the geyser hitting the cold air then drifts in the wind and makes viewing difficult.

Of course, hiking around in the basin was also a must-do and it was quite fulfilling as well. The landscape was crisp and refreshing and the bison were out in force, dotting the snowy landscape, as they sought the thermal grounds for warmth.




On our way home from Old Faithful, we ran into another red fox.  This one was a bit closer, but nowhere near as active.  Gosh, they couldn’t have been cuter.  It made me wonder … “what DOES the fox say?”  LOL


A day in Yellowstone wouldn’t feel complete without a bald eagle sighting…. and this one was sure a beauty.


Ultimately our 3rd day was coming to an end.  Thankfully we stopped for a sunset shot, which I took advantage of.  See, sunsets are always a nemesis for me.  I really liked how this one turned out though.


A perfect end to our day!  Only one day left … and I didn’t want it to arrive.

Courtesy of Daniel J. Cox

Courtesy of Daniel J. Cox


All’s Clear for Everglades National Park

During the winter months, Everglades National Park becomes a mecca for bird watching and photography.  Not only that, but the weather is simply gorgeous … sunny skies, cooler temperatures, spectacular sunrises, and most importantly … a noticeable decrease in the number of mosquitoes.  So, each winter, we begin our own migration of photography trips to the Everglades.

This particular year, the water levels remained so elevated and because of that, many of the usual birding spots were affected and we saw much less activity and nesting going on.  In fact, on one trip through the Anhinga Trail boardwalk, we saw only a few great blue herons, purple gallinules, tri-colored herons, cormorants, and anhingas.  Oh, but there never was a shortage of vultures.

Great blue heron almost had the place to himself at the Anhinga Trail.

Great blue heron almost had the place to himself at the Anhinga Trail.


It was a good winter for red shouldered hawks as well.  Often, in the early morning hours, they seemed to be everywhere along the park road.  Sometimes they would even pose for the camera …


… and sometimes they were looking quite tropical themselves.


This year at Eco Pond, we were treated to a reddish egret … aka “the entertainer”.  I just love to watch and photograph them as they glide over the surface of the water so gracefully and preen themselves when they take a break from their fishing endeavors.



As they run around like drunken sailors, I just find myself laughing to myself and sometimes to photography complete strangers.  LOL.  When they fish, they canopy feed to shade the surface of the water for easier pickings.  They’re quite quick too!



After they’ve had enough, or if they get chased off, they elevate from the water’s surface and take flight … usually to simply return without being gone too long.



The roseate spoonbills were also present in numbers, especially in the early light, but don’t stay too long.  No worries, they’ll be back later.  Of course, the black necked stilts provide endless entertainment as well.


This year, there was a pair of avocets that hung out with them as well.


Osprey are present in big numbers, especially in the Flamingo area.  Why not?  The canals and the bay are ready sources of food for them and they are quite efficient and skilled fishermen.  There are many nests in the area too.  Most nests are higher in trees, but there’s one nest by the marina where you can literally almost look into the nest!


We watched this pair of osprey parents over February and March raise their two young ospreys.  It’s amazing how fast they grow up.  This particular mama osprey is quite demanding of her mate and she seems to always be calling for something … food, nesting material, a break …. whatever.





Often, when he goes out to catch dinner, he’ll come back to the nest with it, but then will almost instantaneously depart – with the dinner!   He’ll take it to a nearby tree, post, or stump and eat about 1/3 to 1/2 of it, then return to the nest with it.  Mama will then take the remnants and tear into it and feed her babies – one at a time.  Many baby birds in a nest will fight violently for their fair share of the food, but not these osprey.  So patient, so peaceful, and yes, so adorable!



Another big star of Flamingo are the American Crocodiles.  The Everglades are one of only a few places that they can be found in the U.S.  My favorite thing to watch is the tourists that go out in rented canoes and kayaks when they arrive back at the marina docks, only to find several crocodiles in the water right next to them.  It’s quite intimidating to them and the look on their faces can be priceless.

"My what beautiful teeth you have!"

“My what beautiful teeth you have!”

Perhaps my favorite sighting each winter and early spring is the arrival of the swallowtail kites, which to me is about as iconic of a symbol of the Everglades as there can be … well maybe except for the alligators.  Oh, that and the mandatory stop at “Roberts is Here” fruit stand for an amazing key lime (or many other flavors) milkshake.  Tom won’t let a trip go by without one.  Yum Yum!


Hope that you enjoyed the Everglades sights as much as I did photographing them.  🙂




The Final Curtain Call – Yellowstone

Our last day in Yellowstone NP finally arrived.  I remember in the beginning, it seemed like four days would be plenty … I would have my fill of the cold … the snow coach … the photography.  What was I thinking?  Nothing could have been farther from the truth.


Our day started with a group of elk in the middle of a side road near the river.  Before this, we had only seen small gatherings of elk.  This group seemed to have a dominant elk, which seemed to keep its eye on us.  They seemed quite inquisitive …


… and quite entertaining …


Before too long they bolted into the nearby brush – one at a time – as they leaped over smaller shrubs and trees.  They have a tough life ahead of them, especially in the winter and I hope that they remain safe.

Another wonderful bald eagle sighting was encountered, right on the roadside.  This mature eagle sat in the nearby tree and offered us some awesome shots.


It too, got a bit bored with us, or tempted by something in its immediate surroundings and off it went, but not before clipping its wing on a branch, allowing a drift of snow to fall down around it as it took off to its next destination.



Roadblocks seemed to be the theme today as we traveled throughout the park.  This time it was a herd of bison – all seemingly sunning themselves in the middle of the road.  They didn’t seem to be in a rush to get anywhere fast, so we became delayed by them.


Of course, what do you do when you’re being held up by wildlife in Yellowstone?  You get out and begin to capture it.

Courtesy of Daniel J. Cox

Courtesy of Daniel J. Cox

Courtesy of Daniel J. Cox

Courtesy of Daniel J. Cox

It took some time, but eventually they got up, one by one, and began to move on down the road.  We took the opportunity to bypass them.


Late in the day, we began to make our last drive from Madison Junction to West Yellowstone.  Along the river, in awesome light, we came across another group of elk, but this time they were bulls.


We were totally enjoying our time shooting them, when all of a sudden, I heard Dan say … “someone said that there’s a bobcat down the road”.  Well, that was all that I needed to hear.  While the bull elk were gorgeous … I mean, a bobcat … AGAIN!  Off I ran, along with several of my fellow photographers.

Sure enough, it was our bobcat from our first day in Yellowstone.  Only this time, it was on the move!  I ran into the snow and began to shoot it, but found it hard to keep up.


As I struggled making my way through the snow, I was not so gently reminded by my body and cardiovascular system, that I was from the flatlands of Florida, which was also warm and humid.  This environment was cold and dry and the altitude was obviously higher that what I was normally used to.  I was also not accustomed to trekking through the deep snow.  After some time, I made my way to the road, which afforded me the ability to keep up the pace of the bobcat.


Several times this cat stopped in its tracks, as it was stalking a duck floating in the water.  I feared that we would witness carnage, but thankfully for me, that never happened.


I couldn’t believe the beauty of this creature and the grace it possessed as it made its way down the river … to the exact location that we saw earlier in the week.  I truly felt blessed to have shared in its day.

I couldn’t imagine a better ending to our time spent in Yellowstone!  As we drove back to our lodging, I believe that collectively we all arrived with big smiles on our faces.  🙂  I know that I did.



Honestly, I didn’t know what I expected from this photo tour.  What I found was obviously amazing photo opportunities (both wildlife and landscape), but even more pleasantly surprised was the amazing people that I shared this trip with.  I’m quite sure that many of them I will see again at some amazing place or another.  I also learned a lot about myself – most of which I won’t bore you with – but I encourage everyone to challenge themselves throughout life.  It’s always good to see what you’re made of.  🙂

Courtesy of Daniel J. Cox

Courtesy of Daniel J. Cox

Thanks so much to Dan & Tanya Cox of Natural Exposures!  Your hospitality was truly wonderful – from start to finish!  Oh, I can’t also forget to thank Colter, tour assistant-extraordinaire!  You’re amazing!

Next blog post will most likely be something more local, so stay tuned.  Until then …..

Courtesy of Daniel J. Cox

Courtesy of Daniel J. Cox