Sunday, 4 December 2011

A weekend of hooting aboot with Snowy Owls

Just over 3 weeks ago reports started coming in that snowy owls were appearing on our shoreline after a four year absence. Snowy owls migrate south during winter from Alaska and on certain years when the lemming count is low they migrate south in large numbers. Needless to say I was pretty excited at the thought of seeing my first snowy owl let alone being able to spend time photographing them. Lousy weather and life's commitments (more on that later) over the last few weeks have prevented me from venturing out to see them. It has been torture seeing my photographer friends post some awesome photos these last two weeks so I blocked this weekend off from socialising to go see them for myself.

Accessible wildlife means hoards of people, so I planned to leave the house a good 1.5hrs before sunrise so I could drive down and scope the area for the owls well before the sun came up. Funny how I don't seem to mind getting up early to go crawl around in the mud and cold looking for wildlife but yet getting up for work takes full effort just about everyday. I am sure I am not alone with that feeling.

On Saturday I got up at 5:30am and was out the door about 10 minutes later. When I arrived at the owl hangout it was still completely dark but this meant I was first on the scene so grabbed my little inadequate flash light and headed out into the shoreline to find me some owls and a good spot before other photographers arrived.

Here are some basic description facts before we get into the details from the weekend. The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus). Description courtesy of wikipedia.

This yellow-eyed, black billed white bird is easily recognizable. It is 52–71 centimetres (20–28 in) long with a 125–150 centimetres (49–59 in) wingspan. These birds can weigh anywhere from 1.6–3 kilograms (3.5–6.6 lb). The Snowy Owl is one of the largest species of owl and in North America is on average the heaviest owl species. The adult male is virtually pure white, but females and young birds have some dark scalloping; the young are heavily barred, and dark spotting may even predominate. Its thick plumage, heavily-feathered taloned feet, and colouration render the Snowy Owl well-adapted for life north of the Artic Cirlce.

Like I said, when I arrived it was still dark but it did not take me long to spot about 17 owls clustered together in an area by the shoreline. I though seeing one would be awesome but 17!!! man I knew this was going to be a sweet morning. Light was terrible so I knew I was going to need a lot of patience if I wanted to come away with some good results. The snowy owls spend all summer being stalked by artic foxes so it takes a lot of patience and skill to successfully approach an owl. I decided to go for a dopey looking juvenile seeing as it was my first time with snowy owls and I did nott know what to expect. I have found with Bald Eagles that the juveniles are usually more trusting so thought I would apply the same logic to owls. They have usually had less encounters with predators.

The first photo was taken though my camera's viewfinder using my iphone, call it killing time while I waited for the sun to come up. It  gives you an idea of the lack of light, see camera settings in green.


Image © Jamie Douglas|Photography 2011

The owl below on the left below is my dopey little friend who I spent a good 2 hours approaching. Just when I found a sweet angle with a nice clean background a female turned up from out of nowhere and landed right beside it. I missed the landing as I was too busy checking my camera settings. I was thrilled when I looked through my viewfinder because the dopey little guy wouldn't open his eyes fully for me and as you can see, the female has the great big yellow eyes that complete any snowy owl image. I call this photo 'see no evil, hear no evil'.

I wonder if the mature female on the right was the little guys mother flying down to eye what was getting so close to her not-so-sharp infant?

So here I was with two snowy owls right in front of me and they didn't seem to be at all bothered by my presence. I was starting to get cramp at this point but decided to sit and enjoy the moment for a little longer. The trick with wildlife photography is to spend a long time in the field understanding your subject and making sure you get in and get out without disturbing the wildlife.
  

Techs: 400MM @ F8 // 1/160// ISO640// Exp comp +1
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

Wildlife never fails to take your breath away. Just as I was contemplating leaving a third owl came flying over the head of the two above and was in hot pursuit of a rather large rodent which I presume was a rat. I could do nothing but just aim my camera and hope for the best. I knew I was on a very slow shutter speed so I didn't have time to change it and used the panning technique to follow the incoming owl and taking advantage of the camera's eight frames per second. I like how the eyes and face are sharp and there is plenty of motion in the wings.


Techs: 400MM @ F8 // 1/60 // ISO400// Exp comp +1
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011



Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/320// ISO800 // Exp comp -1/3
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L
  Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

See hi res images and more on my new work in progress website:
*Please note, website under construction. More to come in 2012.


Thursday, 3 November 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 24: My second front page of the year

Hello folks, Bear season is slowly coming to an end and I haven't seen one about for over a week now. This is mostly due to the darker nights so I don't get as much after work on my bike which sucks. However, I do hear reports that they are seen by the creek and are pretty content with sushi on offer. I do think they prefer to come out after dark though as the creek is near a road. There are certainly a lot of signs of hungry bear activity including the huge patch of grass that has been turned into a salmon eating bed by at least one local bears.

Hopefully I will have a few more encounters before we get into winter. I don't think the bears go into full hibernation around here but I will need to consult with the local experts.

This has been an amazing year and I hope everyone has enjoyed reading about encounters and seeing my photos. I have a lot of editing to catch up on but I will for sure still share reports of my photography through the winter months so don't go away. My new and improved website is coming in the new year but in the meantime please contact me if you are interested in purchasing a print. I can be contacted at jamiedouglas@hotmail.com

Now for the primary reason behind this blog post....

I am excited to share that another one of my bear photos made the front page of the local paper. I feel very proud that my images can help capture people's attention and promote bear awareness in the local communities. They also gave me a nice little mention below the image and put a link to the Bear Aware Program website where I currently have a photo on their homepage, http://www.bearaware.bc.ca/


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Thursday, 27 October 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 23: Cougar

I was so so close to seeing my first Cougar this evening.

Tonight's bike ride was exciting and a little scary at the same time. The bike ride started off as usual with a quick stop at the creek to see how the salmon are doing and to see if a bear might show up. I heard a lot of dogs barking up on the hill behind some homes not far from the creek so I knew a beer must be in the area. It was cold this evening so after a short while I gave up waiting because it was also getting dark and I had a fair ride home ahead of me. Just before I left the creek I got talking to a local who said that the local cougar has been spotted by four people earlier that day very close to a young deer. I did think for a second that maybe heading that way at dusk might not be such a good idea but curiosity led me down the trail.
I peddled pretty quickly passed the field where it had been spotted glancing every now and again behind be and into the field. For some reason Cougars don't usually attack adults but they have a thing for cyclist. Maybe they get a kick out of pouncing on a moving target rather than someone walking.

Anyway once I got passed the area I noticed some wet paw prints along the trail and stopped for a few minutes to check them out. It was then I saw some fairly fresh Cougar scat and a series of wet paw prints heading along the trail, see below. The scat and paw prints were identified using "The Canadian Rockies Guide to Wildlife Watching by Michael Kerr". A book I thoroughly recommend to any keen wildlife spotter.




I decided not to hang around for long and took these quick snaps on my iPhone to document the sighting.

This was the exciting part of my ride. The nest is well, not so fun. About 50 meters or so along the trail after seeing the prints and scat my front tire went completely flat. I must have rode over some thorns. The tire went down so quickly that I nearly fell off my bike. Well you can imagine I wasn't too thrilled getting a puncture so close to the cougar tracks and also I was about an hour walk from home and it was already late and not far being very dark. The above photos were lightened hence the noise levels.

I decided I best call a friend and start having a loud conversation as to let any hungry critters know I am in the area and hopefully scare them off. 

It was a long lonely walk home and I fought pretty hard to not spook myself. I had a few moments when I saw dark shadows along the trail because as you all know from following my blog it is also black bear country.

Anyhow I made it home safely in one piece, tired and cold. Now I am just annoyed I have a flat to deal with.

Still it was very exciting nearly seeing such an elusive predator and hopefully one day I get to see it from a safe distance.

I have a website coming in the new year so stay posted.
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Thursday, 20 October 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 22: The one that got away

I spent the weekend hanging around in the cold by the local creek waiting for some action to photograph. My imagination was full of images of black bears feeding on the salmon in the dense early morning and hawks on the shore line scavenging the left overs. Unfortunately those images will remain in my head for the time being. You would think the place would be full of fishing bears but not today. It wasn't until about 6pm that a bear decided to show up but by that time the light was long gone. I wasn't going to go home empty handed so I decided to see what I could do given the circumstances. This is the result from pushing the 7D and 70-200mm F2.8 IS combo....


Techs: 200MM @ F2.8// 1/100// ISO2000//
  Canon 7D with 70-200mm F2.8 IS

Image © Jamie Douglas|Photography 2011

The bear spent a few moments eyeing me up before casually making his way down the opposite river bank. I took this as my cue to retreat from the river bed and watch him fish from the top of the bank. He was a bad fisherman and certainly needs to work on his technique. 

While I was waiting for action a number of folks came by and stopped for a chat. I was lucky to have the opportunity to meet the owner of the local fish hatchery who got me up to speed on salmon. The creek is full of Chum Salmon at the moment and the Coho run will be happening shortly. Before meeting this gentleman I wasn't sure what species of salmon I was looking at.

The next guy that showed up wasn't so informative. He proceeded to tell me that the 70-200mm is too short blah blah blah for wildlife photography and the 400mm F5.6 is too slow blah blah blah. Now and again you encounter an opinionated bore or two.  The proof is in the pudding if you ask me. If the 400mm was too slow for wildlife then how would I get an image like this handholding the lens on a wet cloudy day:://500px.com/photo/974772 ? Not to blow my own horn :)

Before I go, here is a Chum Salmon making his way up the creek. It is truly amazing watching the sheer strength and determination of each fish propel themselves up stream.


See some of my Black Bear photos in larger res here: http://500px.com/JamieDouglas

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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 21: Are you full yet?

It certainly looks like the local bears have well and truly stuffed themselves with the local berry crop this summer. This bear is a prime example of a healthy bear that has begun his pre hibernation binge in preperation for winter. The bear wobbled as it walked amongst the berry bushes.

Did you know: Towards the end of summer and early fall black bears go through a binge period called, hyperphagia where they will gain up to one third of their normal body weight. The black bear will feed for up to 20 hours a day and not worry about any other activites besides eating.


Coming up next: Bear goes fishing

I have been busy this week searching for bears catching salmon in the local rivers so stayed tuned. I had a encounter this evening and I hope to have some more luck over the weekend. See you again soon.

For more information on Black Bears visit:




Thursday, 22 September 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 20: Bear dens and the snack bar

We are going to look at the the two places a bear loves best in this diary update. Bed and the snack bar.

In the back of my mind I have always wondered, where do all the local bears hibernate? 

While I was in the Canadian Rockies two weeks ago I picked up a copy of Dave Taylor's - Black Bears, A Natural History (a must read for any black bear fan and it is available through amazon
http://www.amazon.ca/Black-Bears-Natural-Dave Taylor/dp/1550418491/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316750343&sr=8-1) and after reading the chapter on dens it got me even more curious about the local bears and where they den for the winter.

As we get into fall (aka autumn where I come from) curiosity got the better of me so I went exploring in the local mtn hoping to maybe locate something that resembled a Bear's den. I read somewhere that they like to den in tree cavities in old growth forests.The book explained that bears dens are not easy to find but from looking at the photos I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for. Bear dens must be dry, away from danger and fairly cramped. The reason for them being cramped is that if there is too much open air around the bear it will loose body heat.

I spotted a number of dens on my hike and wanted to share the following photos with you. I think I found what I was looking for.




 


Did you know:  Black Bears den in a number of places including, under a brush pile, tree roots and beneath rock ledges. Bears have also been known to den in tree tops. There was a den found in Louisiana over 30 metres above ground in a tree.

The following photo shows a healthy skunk cabbage patch that could be another reason bears den in this area. This would be the ideal local snack bar when they wake up in spring.


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Sunday, 18 September 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 20: Notorious B.I.G

Welcome back to Black Bear Diaries 2011. Summer has come to a close. I do hope everyone had a super summer. I spent August and early September enjoying myself and spending time with my little brother who came to visit from the UK. I haven't stopped following the bears who have also been enjoying themselves, feasting on the berry crop. I am sure we have all put on a little weight after the BBQ season but hopefully not as much as this bear, see below.

This is the largest black bear that visits the local area. He is a very large male even before he starts preparing for hibernation. This is only the second time I have seen him. The first encounter was around June last year when I glanced in my rear view mirror to see this huge black shape walk across the road behind me. My wife and I looked at each other and said simply said "WOW". Locals share stories about a large bear that comes by now and again and sightings are rare. The photo I share below is from the second time I met this large bear. This time I wasn't sat in my car, but on foot.

Last Saturday my wife, bother, and I took a walk around the local area. My brother was excited to see bears. Growing up my little brother would scare himself more than me when he would tell me bear stories. My Dad would return from business trips to the Pacific Northwest with bear attack books. We would read them before bed and fill our imagination with wild tales of bears attacking hikers and campers in the woods. It was only fitting then that the last bear he saw, during his visit, was this brute. We estimated this guy to be somewhere close to 350-400lbs.

Did you know: Most black bears weigh about the same as an average human male. Typically, a black bear will fall between 160 and 220lbs. A good-sized male will approach 250lbs and few can reach close to 500lbs. Male black bears will reach their maximum height and length when they are seven or eight years old. The biggest black bear ever recorded was in Manitoba, Canada and weighed 803lbs. Males tend to be one-third larger then females but there is such a variety in size that size alone is not a reliable way to tell the sex.

This big guy will certainly not starve this winter. He wasn't aggressive and tolerated us walking by him. We used a onlookers parked car as cover while we walked passed.
He just wanted to eat the berries.


Photo courtesy of Neil Douglas

My first front page...


Coming up next: A look inside a bear den.


To see what keeps me busy behind the camera besides black bears, please visit my new portfolio at:
 
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Thursday, 8 September 2011

Black Bear Diaries Part 19: In the press

Hello everyone,

I apologise for not posting an update since the end of July but be patient because I will be back very soon with diary updates.

Until I return, I want to share this with you all. While I was away on vacation last week I found out that a photo of mine made the front page of the local newspaper: See photo and article here: http://www.bclocalnews.com/tri_city_maple_ridge/tricitynews/community/128703788.html


Thanks again for all your support and comments.

Jamie


View my portfolio: http://jamiedouglas.500px.com/

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Black Bear Diaries Part 18: Bear signs n' bear cubs

Things have gotten so busy in bear land that the local parks board have put up signs. They certainly ain't kidding when they say "extreme bear activity in area".



This weeks mission has been to spend time in the company of a sow with three cubs who has been hanging around the area. I went out last night and watched her cubs climb the local hydro pole but the light was low so I couldn't get any decent photos.

This evening was a slightly different story.  I counted 14 different bears this evening and at one point I had 12 within a 150 radius of me. I first spotted this sow with her three cubs grazing on the river bank but she took off when another young male turned up so I to decided it was also time to leave. Coming back down the trail an hour later later I encountered a stubborn sow and cub sitting on the path but after standing there for a while I got impatient and fired a few pumps of bear spray in the air made them take off. I was eager to get passed them because I spotted the sow with three cubs at the far end of the trail so I new there would be a good photo op.

Once I got up to the area with the three cubs I was able to get these photos before yet another sow with two cubs showed up. After some thought the sow with three decided the end of the path I was at was the safer route so I took a few shots and decided I had better get out of her way. This was when I discovered my route home wasn't going to be as easy as I thought.

Bear family checking me out...


Techs: 400MM @ F5.6// 1/200// ISO1250//
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L

Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

The three stooges...


Techs: 400MM @ F6.3// 1/320// ISO1250//
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L

Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

Bear family heading my way...


Techs: 400MM @ F5.6// 1/400// ISO1600//
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L

Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

Run the gaunlet... Who wants to go first?


Techs: 400MM @ F5.6// 1/200// ISO1600
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L

Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

To see what keeps me busy behind the camera besides black bears, please visit my new portfolio at:


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Saturday, 23 July 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 17: Star

Besides celebrating my Birthday this week I have managed to get out twice to see the bears. Things are starting to get busier in Bear land. This is Star, named after the white mark on her chest that is just visible on the 2nd photo bellow. I hear Star has three cubs but they were nowhere to be seen when I met her on Thursday night. I soon realised when I took the first photograph that another bear was hanging around close by in the bushes to my left which signalled it was time to move out of the area. Star paid no attention to me at all so I knew something was distracting her.  She seemed extremely relaxed though and eventually got up and started wandering along the road towards onlookers before eventually going back into the bushes about 100 meters from where she was originally sat. I am not sure if she had taken a fancy to the other bear or was casually leading it away from her cubs.



Techs: 400MM @ F6.3// 1/125// ISO800//
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L

Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011


Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/400// ISO1250 // Exp comp -1/3
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L

Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

To see what keeps me busy behind the camera besides black bears, please visit my new portfolio at:

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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 16: The 'no bear curse'


How do you break the 'no bear curse'?
Well I can tell you right now. The answer is.... for those that haven’t already answered it.... it is.... wait for it.... drum roll please... tappy tappy tappy... don’t take your camera out!

I discovered this evening that it's that simple to break the 'no bear curse'.

It comes down to two factors really, one being that I didn’t take my camera and the other, that after the heavy rain we had during Saturday night's thunder and lightening storm the grass has been knocked down so visibility is far better.

Things got so quiet that on Sunday my wife and I took a drive out to a provincial park about 2hrs from our home to look for bears and get some photos of them amongst the wild flowers. After spending a good part of the afternoon photographing a Loon and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes I spotted a young bear on the side of the road. The little guy looks to be about a year to 1 1/2 year and by the looks of it, orphaned. His mum was nowhere to be seen. I always make sure momma isn’t around when I approach young bears. That decision is based on a healthy level of common sense. The little guy was cautious as I approached slowly. I was able to get one clean image, see below, before a car came roaring around the corner and scared him away. It was reassuring to see the little fella had a healthy fear so hopefully he does alright out in the wild on his own.


Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/125 // ISO400 //
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011


Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/1250// ISO1250 // Exp comp -1/3
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

Back to this evening and the 'no bear curse'. I noticed many wet foot prints on the trails this evening (didn't have the camera so couldn't even take a wet foot print photo - I owe you one before the end of the season) so I knew things had changed since the last time I went out. I spotted a sow and two cubs from a great distance but luckily I did at least take my binoculars so I could see them and they were comfortably eating so I thought I'd go take a look see if I could identify them. Word is over seven bears have been shot this year so I am always anxious to see if our early friends are still about.

I didn't hang around long because once they spotted me she had both cubs up a tree (again no camera).

Tomorrow I will be another year older so wish me luck and I'll be back very soon with more stories and photos from my black bear encounters.

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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 15: Eagles and Ducks

I feel like I have disappeared off the face of the planet lately when it comes to sharing my bear encounters with you all. I have been out only a handful of times in the last two weeks and only had 5 bear sightings. I blame it on the fact I started a new job last month which has kept me pretty busy.

I can report though that our little friend who I feared had been shot is infact alive and well and is currently hanging about a berry crop.
 
So what’s been happening lately then if the Bears have been scrarce? Well I did have one very cool encounter last Thursday while I was out on my bike riding the local trails. While I was riding along talking with a local we noticed two Bald Eagles circling and swooping along the river bank. Needless to say I went to investigate right away as someone had mentioned the eagles had been attacking the local ducks. As we got closer you could hear the distressed quacks of a duck on the shore but unfortunately our view was obstructed by bushes. We both stood listening to the ducks dying quacks for about 2 minutes until you could hear the swooping of the eagle flapping its wings. The eagle appeared with the duck in its talons and just behind it was the duck's partner frantically chasing the eagle. 


I have never experienced this before so I'll be sure to go out with my fingers crossed next time. While its unfortunate for the ducks its a spectacle to been seen.
 
We have an insane thunderstorm this evening so I am off to watch the lightening from my bedroom window.




Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011


Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011


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Thursday, 30 June 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 14: Sad News

Here I was all excited to visit the local bear population now I am back from vacation but little did I know how much things can change in 3 weeks.

After arriving back on Saturday afternoon and then making a weak appearance at a friend’s birthday in the evening I was up very early (5am) on Sunday and very eager to get out and spot some bears. I was a little rusty on my bike but it wasn’t long until I was back in my favorite place and after a short while I spotted a medium sized bear hanging out at the end of the trail minding his own business. The bear took off after he noticed me so I continued on my bike ride.

On Tuesday I ventured out again later at about 8 o’clock and took a short walk instead of my bike. It was pretty wet but I wanted to stretch my legs and again I spotted the same bear. This time he was closer than I’d have liked. I heard some rustling in the bushes close by so immediately started to back up and all of a sudden this head appeared and looked at me. Not always an ideal situation but I got out of the bears way quickly and it stood and watched me until it decided I was far enough away and then continued going about its business.  Silly mistake really given how tall the grass has gotten since I went away which means visibility is poor for both me and the bear. The bear looked healthy though and seems to have the area to himself at the moment. Seeing only one bear out at the moment made me wonder where the others are.

On Wednesday evening I ventured out again eager to see if other bears are back in the area. On my way I bumped into a buddy who also just got back from vacation and he shared the tragic recent news with me that two bears had been shot and wounded by hunters with bow and arrows. One was tracked down and destroyed and they believe the other injured bear is still around the area. After I caught up with the news on Wednesday night I saw the cops and conservation officer go by and I assume they are trying to track down the injured bear.

This news shocked me and everyone else who enjoys watching the local bears. Sadly it looks like one of the bears was our cute friend who I introduced you to in Black Bear Diaries Part 11 http://jmdouglasphotography.blogspot.com/2011/05/bear-diaries-2011-part-11-bear-cub-and.html

 Such awful news to come back to.

Read the article here:

 

I wonder if nature given the chance would ever turn around and praise or reward humans in quite the same way we like to reward ourselves given our many continued selfish and senseless acts.





Saturday, 4 June 2011

Bear Diaries 2011 Part 13: Bear Cub and the Tree

Ever wondered what a Bear climbing a tree looks like?

I came across the Sow and cub I shared with you in Bear Diaries 2011 Part 10: The Bear Cub and Mum again one evening last week. I was on my bike when I heard some rustling in the shallow stream that runs along the side of the road. At first I didn't really acknowledge it and also if it was a Bear I didn't want to stop right there beside it. I carried on up the road another 20 meters or so and then decided to turn around and investigate, curiosity got the better of me.  It turned out to be the Sow and cub so I was very excited to see them again.  The Sow was in the tall grass doing her thing and I must have startled the little guy when I cycled passed because the cub took to the nearest tree, see below.

Did you know: Black Bears are incredibly good tree climbers unlike their Brown Bear cousins. Good to know if you ever have to run away from a bear although if they can climb trees I am not sure what the alternative means of escape are. Run really really fast?

I'll get some better photos before the end of the season but in the meantime enjoy. I am heading off on a trip so I'll be back in a wee while.


Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/125 // ISO1600 //
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011


Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/125 // ISO1600 //
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011
 
 

Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/125 // ISO1250 //
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011


Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/125 // ISO1250 //
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

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For more information on Black Bears visit: http://www.bear.org/

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Bear Diaries 2011 Part 12: BIG Bear! A Day Trip Encounter

Remember John Candy's quote from the movie, The Great Outdoors... "Big Bear... Big Bear chase me"? We'll luckily for me this Bear didn't chase me but boy was it BIG!

I came across this Bear last Saturday on a day trip my wife and I took out to Manning Park, BC which is about 2hrs away from my house. I have driven through the park four times in the past but never had the chance to stop and explore. It was high on the to-do list for 2011 and I am glad we got the chance to go last weekend.

Manning Park is also Grizzly Bear territory but I imagine they are still high in the mountains at this time of year. All the Bear warning signs were Grizzly icons. I am planning a 3 day hike in the area around late August time/early September which should be really cool. If I recall it's a 60K loop and will be real wilderness camping so that should be sweet. At that time of year the Grizzlies will be in the low ground enjoying the Salmon run (phew).

This Bear is really solid looking and has a big thick coat which looks like it is moulting now the temperature is rising. Look at the eyes though, this Bear has those big piercing haunting eyes that were the stuff of nightmares when I was a child after reading the Bear Attack books my Dad would bring back to us in the UK from business trips to Seattle. I was photographing this Bear about 10 meters from the car and at one point the Bear stopped and just stared directly at me. That was the time to leave message. I didn't want to find out what he was thinking. Bear, "Hmmm I wonder if that photographer will taste better than this grass?"

I have one more week with the Bears until I go on vacation. The trip will include lots of photography opportunities as I will be visiting the worlds largest single island Artic Gannet colony (approx 150,000 birds on one rock), White-Tailed Sea Eagles, and Puffins galore.

When I get back it will be berry time and there will be Bears everywhere. Hopefully I can post once more before I go. Until then, enjoy the images and thanks again for following.


Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/500 // ISO400 // Exp Comp -1/3
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

 
 Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/500 // ISO640 // Exp Comp -2/3
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

Until next time, Sweet Dreams!


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For more information on Black Bears visit: http://www.bear.org/

Monday, 23 May 2011

Bear Diaries 2011 Part 11: Youth Gone Wild

Finally the summer evenings are starting. It doesn't get dark here until about 9pm now so that means I have lots more time to watch the bears on my evening bike rides. We just had a long weekend thanks to the Queen. Today is Victoria Day so I celebrated it by going kayaking with friends and then having a nice lunch in an area called Deep Cove.

So what has happened since my last post? Well on Friday night I came across this adorable little bear as it was eating the grass at the road side. I stayed on my bike and judged the Bear's response to my presence from afar and it didn't seem to mind so I put my mtn bike down and got my gear set up. The art to wildlife photography is to avoid disturbing your subject and apart from a couple of glances the bear didn't mind me being there. In fact the bear only looked at my twice in ten minutes, the first time being when I turned up and got my camera out and the second being when a guy on a bike turned up on the other side of it and this is how I got the images below. The bear lifted its head to check us both out and then carried on eating.  However. this moment was ruined when Mr numb nuts arrived family and all in his big SUV and then proceeded to get out and approach the bear with his point and shoot. God knows what goes through some peoples heads. I give bears space on the simple logic that if one decided it didn't like me and wanted to attack me their is nothing I could do to fight back. If the bear had attacked him then the next day there would be a mass bear cull and it would be ruined for everyone. Don't be selfish Mr numb nuts and if I see you again I wont keep my opinions to myself.

At a guess I would say this bear was a 2 or 3 year old and probably separated from its mother last year. This little bear was skinny but has it such an adorable face and beautiful glossy coat.

Did you know: From growing up reading so many Bear attack books I found it hard to believe Bears get a lot of their nutrients from vegetation (I always believed they lived off campers and fish). At this time of year the vegetation is fresh and therefore highly digestible because many of the nutrients are in fluid form (think lettuce). As the vegetation matures it becomes less digestible but luckily for the Bears the berry crop is just around the corner so they can exchange their greens for desert. The Bears diet over the season goes from vegetation, to berries, to salmon. Not bad going really. The local Bears wake to a smorgasbord each year because at the bottom of the mountain there is fresh vegetation for them to eat while their stomachs are still weak from hibernation and then its berry time followed by Sockeye Salmon, followed by nap time. We humans complicate life so much.


Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/320 // ISO1250 // Exp Comp -1/3
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011



Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/320 // ISO1250 // Exp Comp -1/3
Canon 7D with 400mm F5.6L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

Coming up next: A larger encounter on my first trip to Manning Park, BC 

A taste of things to come...


If you enjoyed this blog please feel free to share this link with friends and family:


For more information on Black Bears visit: http://www.bear.org/