Running Bear (Part 2)
For those of you who missed Part 1, you can catch up by clicking on Recent Posts - "Running Bear (Part 1)" seen at the bottom left hand side of this post.
So, we saw lots of bears on our way up the estuary. Here's a shot of mother bear with cub. They had just had an argument, complete with a few slaps to the head from mum to cub, and, in the second photo they have made up although 'baby bear' was still a bit leery of mama's paws. The effect made it seem like they were dancing.
First the beginnings of the spat:
Making up (warily :-)
These two were called Chocolate & Praline (not sure who's the nut!)
Here's some more from Day 1 -
No, no, it's not a raccoon!
Who goes there?
We were all overawed by the sheer number of bears that we saw the first day.
I have hundreds of photos. Can't show them all :-)
BTW: I am processing these on the go from raw and am only doing the minimum necessary to post them here. One day when I have a lot of spare time, I'll process them properly!
Later on that afternoon we walked back to the pick-up point for the boat ride 'home'. We were tired. Speaking for myself - I was exhausted. My feet were very sore from walking over all those slimy rocks in wellies!
After stuffing our faces with as much food as we could, we just lazed around that evening, recovering from Day 1 and building strength for Day 2.
Before I go on to Day 2, here are some snippets of information about grizzly bears, quoted from Wikipedia:
"The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos ssp.) is any North American subspecies of the brown bear, such as the mainland grizzly (U. a. horribilis), the Kodiak (U. a. middendorffi), the peninsular grizzly (U. a. gyas) and the recently extinct California grizzly (U. a. californicus). Specialists sometimes call the grizzly the North American brown bear because the grizzly and the brown bear are one species on two continents. In some places, some may nickname the grizzly the silvertip for the silvery, grizzly sheen in its fur.
Since the mainland grizzly is so widespread, it is representative and archetypal for the whole subspecific group. Even so, classification is being revised along genetic lines. Its closest relatives are the European cave bear and the polar bear.
Except for females with cubs, grizzlies are normally solitary, active animals, but in coastal areas, grizzlies gather around streams, lakes, rivers, and ponds during the salmon spawn. Every other year, females (sows) produce one to four young (usually two) which are small and weigh only about 500 grams (1 lb). A sow is protective of her offspring and will attack if she thinks she or her cubs are threatened.
...... Most adult female grizzlies weigh 130–200 kg (290–440 lb), while adult males weigh on average 180–360 kg (400–790 lb). The average total length in this subspecies is 198 cm (6.50 ft), with an average shoulder height of 102 cm (3.35 ft) and hindfoot length of 28 cm (11 in). Newborn bears may weigh less than 500 grams (1.1 lb). In the Yukon River area, mature female grizzlies can weigh as little as 100 kg (220 lb). One study found that the average weight for an inland male grizzly was around 270 kg (600 lb) and the average weight for a coastal male was around 408 kg (900 lb). For a female, these average weights would be 136 kg (300 lb) inland and 227 kg (500 lb) coastal, respectively. On the other hand, an occasional huge male grizzly has been recorded which greatly exceeds ordinary size, with weights reported up to 680 kg (1,500 lb). A large coastal male of this size may stand up to 3 m (10 feet) tall on its hind legs and be up to 5 ft (1.5 m) at the shoulder. Although variable from blond to nearly black, grizzly bear fur is typically brown in color with white tips. A pronounced hump appears on their shoulders; the hump is a good way to distinguish a black bear from a grizzly bear, as black bears do not have this hump." (NB: the highlighting is mine).
GULP! is all I have to say!!!
Here's a little trivia from our trip: When I got home and was reflecting on the trip, I realized that the most dangerous aspect of the whole trip was NOT the bears, nor was it the close encounters with these beasts that can be big, heavy and horribilis.... The danger came from our LACK OF FEAR!!!!!! (speaking for myself here :-)
We got up very late (for photographers) - it was 7 am. We broke our fast and cleaned up as best we could.
Next we walked down to the nearest river and sat on the steel bridge and waited for bears. Everyone was quiet. It was very cold and I was wishing I'd brought my coat and some gloves. We waited quite a bit and no bears appeared. The salmon run was supposed to be in full swing but the weather had been very dry and the water levels were low, so, there weren't too many fish around. We decided to move on and hiked up to a place where we were expecting to see salmon leaping up a small waterfall. Here's an idea of what we saw...
No bears though, so none of us got the quintessential shot of a bear opening it's mouth and having a salmon jump right in! But, look at the size-a-them salmon eh??
Some of you might be wondering how to get a shot of a fish in flight when it happens so fast you can barely see it with your own eyes. Here's how you could do it.... Watch the waterfall for a while and really look at the salmon jumping and roughly where they are appearing out of the water. this is pretty hard as it happens so fast that they seem to be gone before you can blink! Set your tripod up and aim the camera at a suitable spot in the water. Take a wider than usual shot so you catch the action in a broader spectrum. Set up your remote release, have the camera set to take as many shots as it can in the shortest time. So, on my camera it would be Ch (continuous high). Sit back, relax. Take a breath then look hard at the water (not through your viewfinder). The moment you see a fish appear, coming out of the water, press the release and take your multiple shots!
You should end up with a few good shots doing it this way.
After a while, we decided to walk back down the river. This is when you get your feet wet as your boots fill up with water as you traverse from one side of the river to the other.... not seeing the 'holes' until you are knee deep in one!
We got back to the bridge and sat there, legs dangling over the water, as we waited for Mr. Bear(s) to appear.
Finally one appeared. He was slowly wending his way down towards us, chasing errant salmon as he walked.
Here's a shot of him....
Look at them claws!!!!
Here he is again....
As you can see, he is just about at the bridge, wondering who all those strange looking animals were that were sitting there staring at him. If you look carefully you can see that his hunt for food has been successful: no napkins here so the bloody mouth is, well, bloody!!
Once he was under the bridge and down river a bit, we followed him. The bear caught a salmon, took it to the river bank, ate what he wanted and left the rest for any scavengers that were around. We followed him for a while, then lost sight of him.
Next, we went back to the cabin and had a swim in the ocean. It was nice to be clean again, albeit a bit salty!
After dinner we repaired any equipment that needed it and got everything ready for Day 3. The attending doctor repaired the various scrapes, cuts and broken blisters that we had and then we gratefully went to bed for some well needed sleep.
you'll have to check back in a few weeks as this is TO BE CONTINUED!!
hi Stewart, going out to watch and photograph the bears has been something I have thought about, but I think I am better suited to other types of photography!!! having said that I do enjoy your blog posts, and I can get a sense of the experience through your blog. thanks for sharing...
Beautiful pictures, absolutely amazing. I really liked the Waterfall one. Great timings:)
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