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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Orange Rose

Instead of a pumpkin, how ’bout a pumpkin-colored rose?  Wishing all who celebrate it a fun, frivolous, fantastic Halloween!

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Grizzly Cub Play 3

I’m not sure what these cubs were after when they were simultaneously exploring all the crevices of this upturned driftwood stump.  They didn’t seem to be finding anything as far as bugs or rocks or sand.  They just seemed to enjoy exploring just for the sake of it.  I found it interesting how often they would perform the same activity.

Grizzly Cub Play 2

The grizzly cubs entertaining themselves on this large driftwood stump while their mother was grazing alternated between playing nicely together and mock-fighting.  All of their “fights” seemed to be pretty tame:  gentle boxing and wrestling matches with an occasional playful nip thrown in for emphasis.  I never heard a squeal or yelp from either of them.

It’s a good thing they play gently because even though they’re young, their claws and teeth are already quite sharp.  Notice the choppers the cub on the left is sporting.  And yes, they’re both still nursing…OW!!!

Grizzly Cub Play

These two grizzly cubs had a wonderful time climbing all over this overturned driftwood stump while their mother was grazing nearby in the meadow.  There were places to smell, and places to scratch, and there was bark to peel off…not to look for bugs to eat, but just for the fun of it!  There were roots to bend to see if they would break (some did, some didn’t) and still others to chew on…and best of all, you could climb to the high end and get a good look (and sniff) around.  Fun!

upside down grizzly cub

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post (“Lookin’ Around,” 10.25.13) photographing grizzly cubs playing in tall grass had its challenges.  This image illustrates that perfectly.  The cub on the right has obviously toppled over, and its sibling on the left is taking advantage of the fallen bear’s vulnerability by play-biting it on its head.

At first, attempting to photograph the cubs’ antics seemed pointless.  We would see the grass blades moving, a blur of brown fur, and an occasional nose or paw momentarily sticking up.  But we kept the shutters snapping in the hopes that one or both of the cubs would do something precious where we could actually see and snap it.

Mom was taking advantage of her children’s preoccupation to do some uninterrupted grazing nearby. The cubs would take a break from their playing every few minutes to locate mom, and then resume their frolicking.

A good time was had by all:  the sow, the cubs, and the photographers!

grizzly cub standing

Why do bears stand on their hind legs?  Because they can!

It’s a great way to see more–and to smell more–than they can at ground level.  Especially when you’re a tiny cub playing in tall grass.

As you can see, the grass is higher than the cub’s hindquarters, which means that when it’s on all fours, all it can see is…grass.  And all the photographer can see is…grass.

This cub and its sibling had some epic wrestling matches while mom was grazing.  Sometimes we were able to get a good view, and other times all we saw was the occasional paw sticking up out of the grass.

So we loved it when one cub or the other–or ideally both together–would stand up to take a breather and/or to relocate their mom, who was a fairly mobile grazer.

The cubs–like human children–also loved to climb UP on things, like logs or rocks.  That gave them an even better vantage point than standing up on the ground.  And of course gave us photographers some delightful photo ops.

Over the next few days, I’ll post some images of cubs being cubs.

No Trespassing

Here’s a warning from an Alaskan resident who clearly values their privacy.  No wimpy little signs mounted on fence posts or tree trunks would do!  But the side of an abandoned vehicle makes a great billboard, doesn’t it?

Slope Mtn 2

If ever there was a mountain that was aptly named, it has to be Slope Mountain.  Located in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska, its unique profile dominates the landscape…when the top isn’t hidden by clouds, that is.

My primary purpose in visiting this area was to photograph grizzlies, and that I did, but I couldn’t help sneaking in the occasional landscape shot, especially when the weather was so cooperative.

The other time I would turn to landscape photography was when the bears couldn’t be found.  Just because our itinerary had “bear viewing and photography” written on it, sometimes the bears had other plans.  Our guide knew the bears’ habits and where the critters were LIKELY to be at different times of the day, but that was never a guarantee that we would find any.

More often than not we did find bears, grazing, clamming, napping, nursing, bathing, playing and doing all of those cool bear things…but a couple of times we got skunked.

Fortunately the scenery was pretty, with or without bears in it.

Slope Mtn

The title of this post can refer either to the experience of gazing upon a massive mountain top…or the fact that said mountain was once at the bottom of the sea!

The sedimentary layers that make up this mountain were layed down millions of years ago, possible from the erosion of an even more ancient mountain, and then the entire formation rose at an intriguing angle, much faster on one side than the other…

Today, this mountain is eroding as well, and creeks and rivers carry its sediment into the nearby ocean.

Someday in the distant future, millions of years from now, this mountain will form new sedimentary layers at the bottom of the sea, and eventually those will sink and then rise into yet another mountain…

It’s recycling on a grand scale!

Fireweed meadow

If you’ve been to Alaska, and maybe even if you haven’t, you’ll recognize this as a pretty typical landscape:  a meadow filled with fireweed in the foreground, and mountains in the background.

This is not meant to be at all disparaging:  the scenery is lovely, even without any wildlife in the image.

This is a place that feeds the soul and the senses on many different levels simultaneously.

I can’t wait to go back!