Photography by Tanya Elise' Howard


Adventures With Wildlife!

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Hence The Howl 

 Valdez, Alaska

Wolves can be seen and heard in most parts of Alaska by those willing to spend time in remote areas.  They are highly social animals and usually live in packs that include parents and pups of the year.  The pack size usually ranges from 2 to 12, but packs of as many as 20 to 30 wolves sometimes occur.

They are fast!  

It was extremely difficult taking pictures as they ran back and forth, watching me as I was watching them.  What would seem a perfect moment to snap my camera - the next thing you know, they were standing in a different spot!  As they say, patience is a virtue!    Sometimes they would quickly dart across the highway or you could watch them from a distance playing with each other and their pups.

I saw more wolves in the Valdez area than other areas, but was told:  "They are there". 

Digitally Painted from  my original photo!

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Hello Kitty

Anchorage, Alaska

This may be an Amur Leopard. The Snow & Amur Leopards are on the critically endangered list due to poaching, revenge killings for loss of live stock, mining has taken over their habitats, losing their homes with more and more building in the wilderness and, of course, a huge lack of enforced leopard protection by the Government! They are stunning to watch with their huge paws which provide walking power over the ice and snow.  They are a very solitary  creature and do their activities more in the early mornings and at dusk.

 I love their spotted plush coats!

You know there's a reason God created animals with various shapes and features; whereby the Snow Leopard's long, long furry tail helps them keep balance as they jump and leap. Their tail can often be found warmly snuggled around their face, too!

I caught this little fellow during his afternoon snooze and watched in silence as he opened and closed his eyes. He knew I was watching him.  When I'm out photographing wildlife and find myself in the near presence of these amazing animals; I tend to be a sort of "Horse Whisper" in a sense.  I stand very still, maybe give a little whisper, and remain calm and steady while I slowly shoot my photos.  

If I see their hair raise, I know to slowly back away, but I always keep my face toward them.  

I've enjoyed some nice little meetings out there in the woods!

I had my original photo on here for the longest time; processed with HDR, but just never quite loved it.
I have since created a painted feel to it and thrilled with how it turned out now!



Anchorage ~ Alaska

The Red Fox is quite a find to lay eyes on and somewhat easy to run across since they live all throughout Alaska, except for most of the islands.  These cunning little critters are most abundant South of the Arctic Tundra and sometimes found sharing habitats with the Arctic White Fox.  It’s best to be as still and quiet as possible if you want to photograph them since they run and hide so quickly.  Just camp out with patience and enjoy from a distance.

 While taking this pic of my little “pondering” fox I couldn’t help to wonder what his thoughts were since they are a most intelligent species.  He looked so peaceful yet appeared to really be thinking hard about what his next adventure of the day would be!

Ditigally Painted from my original photo!

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Snowy Luster

Turnagain Arm ~ Anchorage, Alaska

Snowy Owls are one of the most mysterious and striking birds to find in the Arctic Tundra of Alaska.  Although nocturnal and it doesn’t get dark in the summer, they will hunt during daylight hours and at night using their huge yellow-golden eyes with excellent night vision.  They are simply divine to watch while in flight or just resting atop the pine trees.

Just outside of Anchorage along the Turnagain Arm stretch, this little fellow became a focus for me lasting well over an hour’s spell.   A perfect model without flying about or turning his head away from me!  Although I do wish he had flown a bit so I could capture his graceful flight! 

Digitally Painted with Special Effects from my original photo!

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If The Creek Don't Rise  (B)

Kenai River~ Kenai, Alaska

Gorgeous Caribou relaxing by a woodpile at campgrounds!

Digitally Painted from original photo!

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If The Creek Don't Rise  (A)

Kenai River ~ Kenai, Alaska

Gorgeous Caribou relaxing by a woodpile at campgrounds!

Digitally Painted from original photo!

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If The Creek Don't Rise  (C)

Kenai River ~ Kenai, Alaska

Gorgeous Caribou relaxing by a woodpile at campgrounds!

Digitally Painted from original photo!

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Kenai, Alaska

After spending day with a friend, Bill, taking pictures and exploring around Funny Little Road I dropped him off at his home on the outer edge of Kenai just as the sun had gone down.  

As soon as I hooked a left turn onto the country road there was a small Moose calf all by himself eating away at the brush.  I gently put on the brakes and grabbed my camera and tripod.  I was able to get about 4 feet away from him and began taking as many pictures as fast as I could because I knew the Mother Moose was eyeing me from about 6 feet behind the trees. HAHA!

The moment was spoiled as a neighborhood pooch ran up and started to bark at the Moose, then out came the Mom from the Tundra!  I backed up ever so slowly and took a few more pictures and stood there in awe for a moment.  The little dog finally ran off, but I knew I was taking my chances standing so near and hopped back in the car and watched them wonder off into the night.

I had seen this Mom and calf several times before and it was fun watching her youngster grow.  I felt some serenity during those moments and sensed the Mother knew I was admiring her baby boy.  Well that's my feelings anyway!

Digitally Painted from my original photo!

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Soul Of The Wolf

Valdez, Alaska

I had the amazing pleasure as a Driver for A.S.R.C. during the summer of 2010 in Valdez, Alaska.  Picking up, dropping off, errands, loading, moving.....Lots of driving through the bush, glaciers and forests of Alaska! While traveling down Richardson Highway on my way to the refinery one early morning I caught a glimpse of something running through the woods.  Jumping out of the van with

my camera (which stayed in my lap at all times) I snapped quickly and prayed I captured what was a trotting wolf who would stop, look around, jump a little in play and run a little more!

Although the image was a bit blurred, I still managed to capture his beauty with some art works!

Digitally Painted from my original photo!

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Moose A-La-Mode 

 Kenai, Alaska 

Most Moose make seasonal movements for calving, rutting and wintering areas.  They travel anywhere from only a few miles to as many as 60 miles during these transitions.

This Moose stays near a friend's country home located in between Kenai and Soldotna.  My friend, Dave, has called me many early mornings with cheerful and delightful news of baby calves being born right outside his bedroom window or the story of how many Moose are hanging around with him while he chops firewood.  His Father thinks that since the human population has developed so much in what used to be journey trails for the Moose that they are following an instinct to bed down, eat and have their babies in that same area.

Whatever the truth may be,

I always know I can find Moose to photograph around my friend's homestead and surrounding area.

Digitally Painted from myoriginal photo!

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Tundra Monarch

Funny River Road ~ Alaska

July 2010

I believe I mentioned somewhere here how I loved spending the day; hours upon hours on Funny River Road outside of Soldotna.  Sitting quietly either in my car or finding a spot to situate myself somehow discretely; I always had moose company!  It's not always you have the experience of capturing a Bull Moose since they stay so deep into the forests, but on this day I was elated that he and I sat watching each other for the longest time.

I didn't know he was there until I heard the snapping of twigs; which sent my heart racing wondering if I had a bear or wolf approaching.  He towered above his lunch plate full of fireweed and a fresh growth of leaves.

The word moose derives from the Algonquin word mooswa, which means “twig-eater".   The snapping of the twigs within the tundra kept me alert, yet thrilled to be joining this young guy for his summer banquet!

I waited until I got home to have my salad!

Digitally Painted from my original photo.

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Splish Splash

Seward, Alaska 

Watching live Alaskan Puffin Birds in their natural habitat is an exciting occurrence  The Puffins, with their distinctive coloring, are extremely poor flyers, and yet they are excellent swimmers where it's fun watching them "splish-splashing" around.  

Their breeding nature sets them on land when producing families but mostly they call the sea their home.  They appear to have a sort of comical look where photographers and birders are entertained with this most recognized seabird in Alaska!

If you can't catch glimpses of them in nature, take time to visit the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward where they have a multi-level seabird perimeter containing not only these precious Puffins, but many other bird species as well.

I thought this little fellow was just darling while he sat in solitude among the florals and waterfalls!

Digitally Painted from my original photo!

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First Snowfall 

 Kenai, Alaska

The first animal I think of when I imagine Alaska is the moose!  They are everywhere night and day!

The moose (Alces alces) is the world's largest member of the deer family and the Alaska breed (Alces alces gigas) is the largest of all the moose.

One soon verifies this fact in person as they gallop closer and closer to you.  I have seen them standing with their heads stretched above and higher than a Suburban!

Yes, I was a brave soul!  Possibly a Moose Whisperer?  I spent many hours just sitting, waiting and watching these enthralling long-legged animals.   A cow moose defends her newborn calf vigorously.  But I just had a way to ease up slowly and capture the moments with my camera.  And....the car door was always open and ready for me to jump in!  Oh, the stories I could tell.

Just a couple of days before I left Alaska to move back to Texas, I was determined to get out one last time on a moose photographic hunt.  I didn't have to drive far because I found some just around the corner from my home, in the city limits of Kenai.  A mother cow with her two calves were munching away on the brush in the snow.  It had just started to snow for the first time in the season with snowflakes as big as a golf ball and white as.....snow!

Digitally Painted from my original photo!

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Got An Itch? 

Girdwood, Alaska

I was in heaven so many times while gazing at herds of Caribou as they played, grazed and ran about along the Kenai Spur Highway going back and forth to Soldotna from Kenai.  We caught glimpses of them roving through meadows and galloping up mountain sides in other areas, too!  There's always a slew of cars parked along side the highway or roads when they are out in the open nibbling on flowering tundra plants.  I could stand there for hours with my camera; actually sit there for's best to stay low and sort of scoot closer and closer if you want to keep photographing.  

Any sudden move, they will run into the forest.  

Caribou live in the arctic tundra, mountain tundra and northern forests of North America, Russia and Scandinavia.  In Alaska they are scattered in approximately 32 main herds where roughly 950,000 wild caribou somehow survive various threats to their existence.  

And that's not many!

In Europe, caribou are called reindeer, but in Alaska and Canada only the domestic ones are called reindeer.  Their movements and migration are triggered by changing weather conditions.   With all their might and strength, they can travel up to 50 miles in one day with a sort of built in compass in order to reach their calving grounds.

There was always one adult bull toying with his lady companions; parading his huge antlers skywards as he raised up and actually seemed to prance and dance with them.  I guess he had more than one wife!

Unlike many members of the deer family, the bull caribou don't actually control a harem of cows, but instead dominate the space around to prevent other bulls from breeding with his females.

The caribou in my photo were roaming in between Girdwood and Portage around the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. 

HDR Photo Processing and Digitally Painted from my original photo!

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Grizzly Waterplay

Girdwood, Alaska

Most people don’t know that the Grizzly and the Brown Bear are basically genetically and scientifically the same breed.  The difference is the Grizzly is typically larger due to a richer diet from living among the streams and lakes.  Brown Bears can differ from each other in size depending on the area of their habitat and their usual meals.  So, it's ok to call a Grizzly a Brown Bear and call a Brown Bear a Grizzly!  Just depends on the area you are in.

Bears mostly flee quickly when they see humans, yet they are social animals and not hateful, spiteful or malicious in search of people.  They will defend their personal territory and especially their cubs.  So, it's wise to act accordingly to secure your safety and not surprise or get into their defended space. 

I’ve seen them going about their normal play then pausing to check you out, then back to play again. Other times, they can be hiding in the woods and just keeping an eye on what you do.

A lot of tour guides suggest wearing "bear bells" on your clothes, shoes or hats.  While scavenging around on trails in Alaska, I’ve run into a lot of professional photographers strolling along footpaths with their dogs and their bear bells jingling away!

While taking several photographs of these two Grizzlies rumbling together in the pond, I stayed my distance, kept very quiet and they never acted like I was even around!

Digitally Painted from my original photo!

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Mask Of The Moose

 Strawberry Road, Kenai, Alaska 

If you're lucky enough to see a moose in the wild, it will usually be a tranquil scene of a bull or cow browsing on plants.  If you are really lucky you'll be alone with the moose ~ and both of you will be at peace.

Moose are solitary animals, which is why your encounter will probably be a single moose.  Despite their imposing stature, they are remarkably quiet, capable of gliding through forest, brush or pond with hardly a sound.  They are not predators so they see no harm.  They are, when alone, content.

This was my favorite nearby area to look for moose to photograph.  I would the Kenai Highway about half-way in between Kenai and Soldotna, turn left on Strawberry Road and continue until I almost couldn't drive any more.  Stop the car, turn the radio off, grab my camera and wait.

The first time I did this, I was told that it might take about 30 minutes before a chance to see moose up close and all alone.  After turning the car off I started deleting some messages on my cellular, happened to look up about 30 seconds into this project and WA-LA!  MOOSE!  WITH TWO CALVES!!  Right at the hood of my car!  That was fast!

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Lowell Point, Alaska 

The Bald Eagle of Alaska's waterway and the soaring Golden Eagle of the Interior are two of the state's most magnificent birds of prey.  Long valued for their aesthetic beauty and grace, eagles are now recognized for their biological importance as scavengers and predators in the natural environment.  The raptors deserve our protection and respect.

With the statehood in 1959, the Bald Eagle in Alaska received federal protection under the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940.  This act made it illegal to kill or possess an eagle, alive or dead, or to possess any part of an eagle, including feathers.  

I found many Bald Eagle feathers in the woods and along the waterways, but I dared not pick them up to keep.  Darn!  I can actually say that just about every day I lived in Alaska I saw a Bald Eagle or maybe more.  There were several that flew over my home daily.  

I would throw bread crumbs out the kitchen window and watch the assorted species of birds flock to my yard and quickly eat every crumb.  I was always in hopes of an eagle landing, but they have a strong tendency to say away from humans.  And by the way, the Sea Gulls in Alaska are HUGE!

These two Bald Eagles entertained each other flying from the top of tree to another.  Once they finally landed, I caught several beautiful pictures.

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Fastidious Fury 

 Northern Alaska

The Polar Bear, or sea bear, evolved about 200,000 years ago from brown bear ancestors.  They are superbly adapted for survival in the Far North and West.  They are the world's largest non-aquatic predators and top the food chain in the Arctic, where they prey primarily on ringed seals.  Adult male polar bears weigh from 775 to 1,200 pounds; the female weigh 330 to 650 pounds. The largest Polar Bear ever recorded was a male weighing 2,209 pounds.  An adult male may reach over 10 feet when standing on it's hind legs.  Wow!  That's BIG!  How tall is your RV?

A cute little fact: Arctic fox travel behind Polar Bears and scavenge on scraps.  In fact, foxes often annoy bears by nipping at their heels in an attempt to drive a bear off it's prey.  Polar Bears sometimes lunge at or slap a fox.  During the spring season when they both hunt ringed seal pups, they can be considered competitors.  Those are some sly and brave foxes!

Polar Bear attacks on humans are rare.  In almost all cases, the bear in question was undernourished, frightened or provoked.  I heard many a tale of Polar Bear encounters while living in Alaska from friends.  Never underestimate their tenacity or hunger, they can can smell you for several miles as they have a powerful sense of smell.

Long story short, they are one of the most beautiful and fascinating animals in Alaska.

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Twilight Retreat 

Girdwood, Alaska 

Black bears are the smallest of the North American Bears.  They have been recorded in all states except Hawaii.  Males are larger than females.  The average adult male in spring weighs about 180 to 200 pounds.  They are lighter when they emerge from winter dormancy and may be about 20% heavier in the fall when they are fat.

Black Bears are so common and widely distributed that they often cause damage at homesteads, construction camps or even towns.  They are usually highly cautious and secretive, but if they have food supply or cubs, they will most definitely defend against all intruders.  Although they are typically not a threat to humans, they deserve respect and attention.

While on an early evening trail hike near Girdwood, I noticed a Black Bear circling a tree.  He quickly, and when I say quickly I mean QUICKLY, scurried up the tree and sat on a branch for a brief moment examining his surroundings.  Then he would haul himself down the tree, circle it again and up he went on his recreational climb. Quietly, I turned my camera on to video.  Took several pictures.  Then I briskly tip-toed back to my car before he could catch wind that I was in the area.

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Downtown Seaway ~ Whaling Wall

Downtown Anchorage, Alaska

The preservation of Alaska's beauty, culture and wildlife is most exceptional, thank goodness, by the photographers and artists either residing in or visiting this magnificent state.  4,500 Alaskans (about 2%) of the entire workforce earn income from arts related activity.

The name of this mural is "Whaling Wall", located Downtown Anchorage adjacent to J.C. Penneys.  Robert Wyland (born 1956), known simply as Wyland, is an artist best known for painting large, outdoor murals of whales and other ocean life.  Wyland has raised awareness of marine life conservation through his paintings, sculptures and photography world-wide.

I took a picture of the Whaling Wall on my first visit to Anchorage, in the middle of a blizzard and snow up to my knees in most areas.  Upon several returns for necessary shopping, touring assorted venues, dining  and visiting relatives, I finally had the perfect weather for a summer depiction of this impressive whale mural.

Although the street sign says No Parking Anytime, I think this curious whale has decided to park himself here anyway!

# 3080H 

Swan Muse 


Anchorage, Alaska

The plumage of the adult Trumpeter Swan is completely white.  They were once nearly extirpated as a result of over-harvesting and the widespread destruction and degradation of wetlands.  In 1932, fewer than 70 Trumpeters were known to exist worldwide. They currently winter along the Gulf of Alaska and about less than a dozen other international regions.

Alaska accounts for over 85% of the world's breeding population.

I watched this striking Trumpeter Swan for about an hour as it fed and cleansed it's feathers.  

# 3123

Seek & Soar


Byron Glacier, Alaska

Byron Glacier is near the Visitor Center at Portage Glacier, about 1 hour South of Anchorage.  I enjoyed a 3/4-mile walking trail where it steered me to the snowfield near the base of the Glacier.

Glaciers store about 75% of the world's freshwater and cover more than 9.3 million square miles of the Earth

I enjoyed a scenic 3/4-mile walk on a trail where it steered me to the snowfield near the base of the Glacier.  Was I thankful I had my Wolverine Walking Boots on that day!

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Salmon Snatch 

Captain Cook, Alaska 

There is a little story that goes along with this photo.  (Of course!)

My friend, Dave, and I spent another full day on a photography excursion.  There were two RV's parked next to a trail that led to the Swanson River; suggesting tourists were there.  Upon arrival of the fishing spot, three fishermen were fishing for Red Salmon.  I relished the moment with my camera as they were catching quite a few beautiful and large Salmon.  The younger gentlemen took his catch to a nearby rock and began the process of filleting.  But...he began throwing the bloody remnants on the shore!  Yikes!

Dave spoke out to warn the dangers of doing this and suggested he throws the fish parts into the waters (which is what you are supposed to do) in the event a nearby hungry Bear catches the scent.  The men began speaking in Russian and it was clear they did not understand Dave.  And the fish parts kept landing on the shoreline. So, Dave swiftly grabbed me and led me back up the trail to the truck while expressing his fear and how it's not safe to be hanging out and taking pictures any longer.  Darn!!

A week later, we heard on the news that some fishermen from Russia were mauled by a Black Bear on the Swanson River in the Captain Cook State Recreational Area. 


# 3014Hb

Grizzly Gaze

~ Anchorage, Alaska ~

One of the things that makes Alaska so special is that all three species of North American Bears flourish here.  There is always a chance you may be lucky enough to see one, but even if you don't, you will never be far from one because Alaska is BEAR COUNTRY.

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Hey Bunny! 

Valdez, Alaska

The Arctic Hare is not the same as rabbit. There are two hare that live in the Arctic areas: Arctic and Tundra.  The major difference is where they live and the color their tail turns.  His fur is long and white all the way through in the winter for it's protection..  In the summer his coat is grayish brown with black flecks on top and white beneath; sort of a camouflage. 

The first time I saw what I thought was a Rabbit, I gasped at how big they were compared to the bunnies I have been used to living around in Texas.  They are quite large and furry!  They can weigh between 9 to 10 pounds.  They are sometimes called "Big Foot" because their feet are huge, like having snowshoes!  This helps them stay on top of the snow and get away fast from their predators.

While staying in Valdez, I spent quite a bit of time sitting and watching these cute little rascals gather grass for their bedding and eating on the nearby flowers, saxifrage and crowberry.

# 3047H

Spangle Swan 

Turnagain Arm ~ Seward Highway, Alaska

The Tundra Swan is smaller than the Trumpeter Swan, but it's difficult to separate them in the field.  The Tundra Swan's call is high-pitched and reminiscent of snow geese, while the Trumpeter Swan's call is more vociferous and has been likened to the sound of a French Horn.

The female Tundra Swan prefer to nest on shores, points, islands or hummocks found near lakes, ponds or marshes.  They lay an average of 5 eggs.

I was fortunate in that I saw these swans frequently, especially while driving over bridges or seeking out ponds in the distance.  I would typically see 2 or 3 at a time.

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Little Darling Flurry 

Kenai, Alaska 

I was delighted to see this baby's fresh new horns sprouting!  

The mother stayed near and kept an eye on me as i got out of the car to take my pictures.  Some day, the mother cow will guide him deep, deep into the rural forest to thrive and hide from the hunters.

# 3118-G

Eye On You

 Kenai, Alaska 

I hope you never hear some day that I got trampled by a Moose! LOL

Yes, I use a zoom lens, but there were many times that I got as close as I could and within "running" distance to my vehicle!

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Snowflake Graze

Kenai, Alaska

In the winter time Moose often use frozen lakes and other surfaces of water as paths, risking to brake in if the ice is not yet or no longer thick enough to carry their weight. They are most active in the late evening, but can be seen in the day. And if they aren't moving? Moose actually lie down to sleep and often sleep during sunshine hours.

It seems I saw more Moose when it snowed than I did in the summer time.  Although, there were many fun days when I saw them galloping along Kenai Highway in the middle of traffic.  All vehicles come to a complete stop for the safety of the Moose and their young.  In Alaska, the animals come first.

The reason they come out along the highways more so in the winter months is that they love to eat the salt from the roads and there is more open brush and limbs there than in the thick of the forest. Even though their long legs are excellent for them to walk through the deep snow and drifts, it's much easier for them to feed on the sides of the roads where the snow has been cleared by snow plows.  In the winter when it's dark most of the time, driver's have to be extra cautious and on the look out for wondering Moose.

# 3107-G

Gaze Upon Snowdrifts 

Kenai, Alaska 

Now maybe you can see why the Moose love to come out from the snowy forests to eat alongside of the roads.  The snow had just began to fall the day before and it was already very deep.

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