Alaska Brown Bear Adventure…An OMG Day!

There are those days when you just get lucky and amazing things unfold before your very eyes. Today was one of those days. We started off looking for the mating pair of bears that we worked yesterday but, they weren’t to be found so, we headed over to a small island where we had been seeing a sow with a second year cub and they weren’t there either. We then decided to visit the “Garden of Eden” where there is a profusion of flowers blooming. Using my 70-200mm with a teleconverter as a macro lens I worked some of the flowers…


Nikon D3X with AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II and TC-20E III

But, before we worked the flowers there was a bear eating the grasses. We were hoping he would go into the garden and pose amongst the flowers but, he had other plans and proceeded to go on up a nearby hill. At one point he stopped and turned to take a look at us. I like the distant mountain in the distance as a background which makes the bear pop and the upward angle that adds to the majesty of this wonderful creature…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 500mm f4 VR and TC-14E II

With a low tide it’s fun to fine harbor seals lazing on the rocks and we found a particularly interesting seals with a wonderful mottled pattern and her youngster who was a beautiful creamy color…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 500mm f4 VR and TC-14E II

Since we weren’t far from one of the eagles nests that we had been watching we decided to stop and see how the chick was doing. It’s amazing at how it has grown from a wobbly little bird who could hardly hold it’s head up to an alert and proud young eaglet. I liked the way the parent was looking down into the nest so intently. Neither mom nor her chick were bothered by our presence…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 500mm f4 VR and TC-14E II

Once we had had our fill of photographing the eagles we headed down the bay to what is known as the corner. As we approached, we glassed the grasses and saw a few bears and a bull moose! It was the first bull we have seen in the area but, he was too far away and acting nervous with all the bears around so we simply watched until he disappeared into the bushes. Perry, suggested that we head to the end of the bay to see if there were any bears there and have lunch. We did see three more bears off in the distance but, it would have been a brutal hike across the boot sucking mud of the tidal flats to se watched them as we ate our delicious wraps that chef Shawn had prepared for us. I happened to look out into the water and saw something swimming toward us. I knew it wasn’t a seal and if it was a sea otter it was in a strange position so, I put the binoculars to my eye and to my surprise it was a bear swimming across the bay right towards us. We hopped out of the boat with our tele lenses and began firing as he got within range…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 500mm f4 VR

As he neared the shore, I told everyone to be prepared as he would shake when he emerged from the water and the shutters were clicking wildly as he did just that…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 500mm f4 VR

After he shook the water from his fur he continued on down the beach towards the other bears. As we watched him go, I saw his tracks in the mud and suggested that we go take a look at his tracks. The slippery, mucky mud showed his tracks beautifully and I asked Perry if we could make a plaster cast of one. While we were playing in the mud building a moat to hold the plaster Leon from Australia turned to look out towards the water and exclaimed “It’s a bloody moose!”. We all turned and to our amazement saw the bull moose we had seen earlier swimming right in the same route as the bear had taken just minutes before. You can believe that the shutters were clicking like crazy again as he emerged from the water and turned to look at us…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 500mm f4 VR

He trotted off through the water and we watched him until he disappeared into the brush on the far bank. We could hardly believe our good fortune at not only seeing a swimming bear but a swimming moose as well. How could it get any better than that you ask? Well, it did… Bob radioed that he had found the first sow with springs cubs of the season so we headed in that direction and couldn’t find them anywhere. We cruised around a bit and as we passed the area where they had been spotted, we suddenly saw the sow with her two young cubes on the hillside. She didn’t even raise her head from grazing but, the little cubs were very curious and stopped playing to watch us photograph them….


Nikon D3S with AF-S 500mm f4 VR and TC-14E II

The sow grazed her way up the hill and into the bushes with her cubs close on her heels. What a thrill it was to see the cute young bears. All too soon, our day was over and we headed back to the lodge anxious to download our images and review the days events in photos. My time at Katmai is nearing it’s end. We have two more days left…stay tuned.