Browsed by
Tag: black

Jasper Camping

Jasper Camping

Spent the weekend camping in Jasper National Park. Saw lots of Black Bears, but no grizzlies. The cubs in the tree would have been a definite highlight, if it wasn’t a total shooting gallery with about a dozen other photographers lined up there in the middle of the road. Weather was really good, which was somewhat unfortunate because it made for a lot of situations with really bad light, ie. the cubs in the tree, and the mother and cub down on the lakeshore. There was a bunch of elk in and around our campsite, and I saw my first baby Elk that still had spots, but wasn’t able to get a shot of it. Overall it was a pretty typical trip to Jasper with lots of driving and a bunch of bears and other wildlife to photograph.

Fairmont – British Columbia

Fairmont – British Columbia

I got a really good deal on a week long stay at a place by the Fairmont Hotsprings and headed out for some R&R. I spent the whole day driving out, through Kananaskis and Banff and Kootenay National Parks, stopping first at Gap lake to watch a variety of small songbirds. The weather was beautiful and I had great time exploring the shorelines at various points along the Bow and Kootenay rivers.

Once I got to Fairmont the weather turned rainy and overcast for the next few days, and I spent a lot of time relaxing around the hotel. That’s not to say I didn’t do much, I did a whole lot of driving all over the area. I explored the forestry roads in search of White Swan Lake. Photographed Colombia Lake at sunset. Drove a dirt track on the south side of the river valley halfway to Golden (and then continued on the rest of the way on the highway). Went hiking down to a old gold miners camp along a small creek. Walked around Canal flats where an old canal had been dug between Columbia Lake and the river which is in a different watershed.

I had really been hopeful that I would see some wildlife, but it was a bit of a letdown. The marshes and ponds were strangely devoid of waterfowl (despite it being the annual bird festival in the area). I did spot a black bear about 2 kilometres from the hotel after driving all the way to Golden and back without seeing anything. I had on my wide lens and after it crossed the road in front of my car I watched it from a stand up and scratch its back on a telephone pole while I was fumbling around with my camera, and of course it was gone by the time I got my long lens on.

I spent a lot of time driving up and down some sketchy forestry roads, but apart from a couple of deer and a huge flock of Coots in one of the mountain lakes it was entirely unproductive.

The highlight was an afternoon spent in the reed beds near Canal Flats, which was full of  of Great Blue Herons. The light was pretty crappy so I was excited to go back the next day, but the Heron’s were mostly all gone.

As far as photography goes the way there and back again through Banff and Kananaskis was likely more productive than all the time I spent in BC, but I read an entire book about Coastal Wolves and spent more than a few hours in the jacuzzi tub. So I guess it was a successful trip.

 

 

Kananaskis Country

Kananaskis Country

Another great drive down Highway 40 and Spray Lakes Trail in Kananaskis Country, with a rather cute Bighorn Sheep near Galatea trailhead, a Moose in the meadows by Mount Shark, and a somewhat ugly Cinnamon Black Bear feeding on berries near the shores of Spray Lake….

 

Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild moose feeding among bushes, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild moose feeding among bushes, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cinnamon coloured Black Bear feeding on berries, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cinnamon coloured Black Bear feeding on berries, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cinnamon coloured Black Bear feeding on berries, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cinnamon coloured Black Bear feeding on berries, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cranbrook, B.C.

Cranbrook, B.C.

We decided to take a weekend trip down to Cranbrook in British Columbia and although I’m not really sure why we decided to go there it seemed like a good idea at the time. I think the original destination was Kimberly, but when we got into town it was basically empty, so we decided to continue on to Cranbrook. The weekend turned out to be pretty uneventful and we didn’t end up doing a whole lot other than getting lost on some crappy forestry roads, and a really short hike that was supposed to go to a waterfall, but since the trail was washed out and neither of us wanted to get our feet wet, we never got within sight of the actual falls.

We also took a walk around a wetland on the edge of town, and photographed some Grebes and other waterfowl. Overall not very exciting, at least until we got back to Alberta, where we found a couple of young Osprey in a nest on top of a bridge at Castle Mountain in Banff. Although still juvenile they were nearly adult size, and we watched for a long time  while up on the nest, one of them tested out it’s wings, flapping away on the verge of becoming airborne, but never quite achieving liftoff. Further down the parkway we ran into a pair (mother and yearling or two year old cub I think) of Black Bears feeding on berries in front of a mob of people.

[portfolio_slideshow id=5023]

 

Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Juvenile Osprey on a nest learning to fly, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Juvenile Osprey on a nest learning to fly, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Juvenile Osprey on a nest learning to fly, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Juvenile Osprey on a nest learning to fly, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Castle Mountain, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Scenic Castle Mountain, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Scenic Mountain views of the Kootenay River, Kootenay National Park, BC Canada
Scenic Mountain views of the Kootenay River, Kootenay National Park, BC Canada
Scenic Mountain views of the Kootenay River, Kootenay National Park, BC Canada
Scenic Mountain views of the Kootenay River, Kootenay National Park, BC Canada
Eared Grebe feeding young on a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
Eared Grebe feeding young on a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
White-tailed deer alert to danger on the forests edge
White-tailed deer alert to danger on the forests edge
Eastern Kingbird perched on a reed over a prairie lake
Eastern Kingbird perched on a reed over a prairie lake
Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

(Pictures are in reverse orders… and it’s far to much of a hassle to rearrange them)

I took a trip down across the border to Glacier National Park in Montana to go camping for the weekend. My original plan was to stay at Many Glaciers, but after a three hour wait at the border, by the time I got there the only site still available backed onto the parking lot for a hotel or grocery store or something like that, so I decided to continued on to glacier. After driving over Logan’s Pass I ended up at Avalanche Campground which turned out to be a really neat area. The campground is in a area of rainforest right next to a grove of large cedars with a boardwalk hiking trail where I spent my first evening wandering around the river and forest (see map below).

I got up stupidly early the next morning and drove back up to the top of the pass in hopes of shooting some pictures. As beautiful as Going to the Sun road is it’s not very photogenic from the road, especially in the early morning when sun hasn’t made it up above the mountains and half the range is still in shadow. I almost hit a Mountain Goat with my car coming around one of the really tight corners near the top of the pass, and was able to snap a picture of it on the way day but with its winter fur still being shed it wasn’t a very pretty one.

After failing to get any good pictures up on the pass I thought I would try going the other direction. I ended up doing a lot of driving allover the place following the river out of the park and doing my best to get lost on some terrible gravel roads. I had been told by someone that there was a lot of wildlife in the park, which was my main reason for going down there, but other than the goat on the pass and a Snowshoe Hare in a parking lot I didn’t see a single thing.

Eventually I made it back to camp and feeling a bit defeated decided I had enough driving for the day. The campground I was staying at was also the trailhead for a hike to Avalanche Lake so I thought I would give it a try.

The hike up to the lake was a really nice change from all of the time I had spent in the car over the last couple of days.

The hike is a basic forest trail climbing steadily over the 4 kilometres and gaining about 200 metres in elevation to the mountain lake. The lake was quite beautiful and I was really wishing I had my fishing rod with me as the fish were jumping and surface feeding all over the lake. I didn’t get to stay at the lake nearly as long as I would have liked, but it was evening when I started, and completely dark by the time I got back.

On the way back I decided to go through Waterton in hopes of seeing some wildlife. I was not disappointed. Within a kilometre or two  of crossing the border back into Canada I spotted a moose but didn’t have time to grab my camera, a couple kilometres after that a grizzly crossed the road in front of me, but was gone by the time I got there.

A bit further on I caught something moving out of the corner of my eye and pulled over to have a look. I spent a good ten minutes sitting in my car catching occasional glimpses of movement before I finally figured out what I was seeing. It was huge funny looking bird out in the tall grass, my first Sandhill Crane. Once I figured out it wasn’t a bear I climbed out of the car and went stalking through the grass and bushes to try and get a picture of it. It turned out there was actually two of them, and they move fast, seaming to disappear completely in one place and popping up in another a few moments later. I only manage to get one or two clear shots, but the sighting was enough to make me feel better about the previous lack of wildlife.

Once in the main part of Waterton I drove the Red Rock Canyon Parkway and spent ten minutes watching a cinnamon coloured black bear at a distance, then checked the flats looking for Elk but didn’t spot any. Leaving Waterton I opted for the slower route home through Glenwood so that I could make a quick stop at the windmill farms.

 

Windfarm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Wind farm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Windfarm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Wind farm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Windfarm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Wind farm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Windfarm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Wind farm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Farm country in the foothills of the rocky mountains, Alberta Canada
Farm country in the foothills of the rocky mountains, Alberta Canada
Farm country in the foothills of the rocky mountains, Alberta Canada
Farm country in the foothills of the rocky mountains, Alberta Canada
Wild black bear, Waterton National Park, AB.
Wild black bear, Waterton National Park, AB.
Wild Sandhill Crane, Waterton National Park, Alberta Canada
Wild Sandhill Crane, Waterton National Park, Alberta Canada
Chief Mountain
Chief Mountain
Scenic mountain views, Many Glaciers National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Many Glaciers National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Many Glaciers National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Many Glaciers National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA

 

Hike to Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana

  • Distance – Return (with some walking along the lakeshore) – 8.1 km
  • Elevation Gain – 227 metres

[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” gpx=”http://photoboom.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/062913 – Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana.gpx”]

Snowshoe Hare in summer colours feeding on grass
Snowshoe Hare in summer colours feeding on grass
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Mountain goat, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Mountain goat, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenicriver views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic river views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA

Rainforest Boardwalk, Glacier National Park, Montana

[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” gpx=”http://photoboom.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/Rainforest Boardwalk, Glacier N.P. Montana – 06_28_13.gpx”]

 

Random Driving Tour around Glacier National Park and Home to Calgary

[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” gpx=”http://photoboom.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/062913 – Driving – Glacier NP Montana.gpx”]

Camping – Jasper National Park Alberta

Camping – Jasper National Park Alberta

What a great weekend… Karl and I headed out to Jasper on Friday morning making quick time (especially for us) up Highway 93. We stopped briefly for a Mountain Goat on the side of a cliff overlooking the highway, but other than that it was a pretty uneventful drive with cloudy overcast skies not worth photographing.

We made it to the campground relatively early, we had reserved a spot at Whistlers Campground, and on the way in we passed a bunch of Elk with cute little spotted fawns, but were too lazy to change lenses and decided to come back after setting up camp. Big big mistake, we never saw them again.

Later on we had some great success on the Malign Lake Road spotting a bunch of Black Bears, although with overcast skies the light was lacking and faded quickly, but the road was quite and we were able to spend some time photographing them.

The next morning we drove west to Mount Robson and encountered a grizzly on the side of Highway 16, but couldn’t really get into a decent position, until it crossed over the road in front of us. I managed to grab a couple of shots as we passed by on the busy highway, but it was so deep in the ditch that the angle made it almost impossible.

Back at the campground we met up with the Derkowski’s for lunch while they set up camp. After a bit more evening exploring and a ridiculously close encounter on foot with a black bear, we had spotted it from across the lake then parked and walked down to were it was heading and it popped up right in front of us, closer than we had expected.

After that it was dinner time and we feasted on some of the best ever Campfire Chili, and relaxed around the fire enjoying the all you can burn firewood that the campground offers.

The way back was slow with traffic. A washroom break was made amusing by the Parkway’s resident Ravens, and we spotted a beautiful bull Elk with velvet antlers on the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff.

 

Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Close up of a Grizzly Bear feeding on Dandelions, Jasper National Park  Alberta Canada
Close up of a Grizzly Bear feeding on Dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Mountain goat  on a Cliff face, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Mountain goat on a Cliff face, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
Adult Grizzly Bear crossing a highway, Jasper National Park  Alberta Canada
Adult Grizzly Bear crossing a highway, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Bald Eagle perched in a dead tree, Jasper National Park Alberta
Bald Eagle perched in a dead tree, Jasper National Park Alberta
Scenic mountain views, Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Alberta, Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Large cast iron pot of spicy chili cooking over a campfire
Large cast iron pot of spicy chili cooking over a campfire
Common Raven, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Common Raven, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Common Raven, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Common Raven, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Bull Elk, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Bull Elk, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Bull Elk, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Bull Elk, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Waterton – Wildlife

Waterton – Wildlife

One of the main reasons that I wanted to go down to Waterton National Park was for the wildlife.

I found the first bear of the day a short ways up the canyon parkway across a ravine eating berries on the hillside that sloped down from the golf course. Although I had a nice clear view of it, it was a long way off and there wasn’t enough light to get a decent shutter speed with my 2X-TC. I shot a few photos, and watched for a while before it disappeared into the bushes.

Further down the parkway I passed a car pulled over on the side of the road, the people in it were looking at something in the trees and I caught a glimpse of movement, but didn’t stop (the road is really narrow).

Just after I passed by, the car pulled away, and I couldn’t resist the urge to go back for a second look. On my second pass I saw nothing, and another car came rushing up behind me, so I passed by again and turned around to head back towards the canyon. On the third pass I again saw some movement, and was finally able to stop for a closer look.

At first glance I thought it was a coyote, but then It walked out of the trees and right up beside my car. It was coloured like a coyote, and about the size of a coyote, but it was obviously still a puppy (most noticeable by it’s massive paws). Suddenly it occurred to me that it was actually a wolf pup.

Then I got really excited, and started shooting away, completely forgetting to check my camera settings and ended up with a lot of motion blurred photos shot at f6.3 (idiot)!!! 

Anyway, the wolf pup walked right passed my car and onto the road (there’s nothing more frustrating than watching an animal especially a wolf walk around ten feet in front of the car with all possible shots blocked by a bug splattered wind-shield). It was walking down the middle of the road up a blind hill, I was further back,  and could just barely see a car speeding towards us before it went out of view behind the hill, and had to make a really quick decision. I revved the engine, and laid on the horn (foregoing all chance at taking more photos), chasing the wolf off the road just in time for the car to crest the hill and speed by (I’m sure they were doing at lease 30km over the 50km speed limit), completely clueless of how close it came to hitting the puppy.

After the wolf I didn’t really have much other luck with any wildlife. I spotted another (it may have been the same one from earlier) black bear, but it was far back in the trees eating berries, and on the main road just outside of town so I only had time to snap a couple of shots while traffic piled up behind me.

Later on a huge brown grizzly bear crossed the road in front of my car a few kilometres from the US border, but it was way too fast to get any photos.

I tried photographing some Herons in the lake, but they were too far out in the water for a decent shot.

I drove around the flats looking for rutting elk (this was one of the main reasons that I had decided to come down), but I never even caught a glimpse of one.

I ended the day at the Buffalo paddocks (the other main reason for my visit), this was also a pretty big disappointment as they were a long way off the road, and the light was absolutely horrible, so I finally gave up and headed home.

Wild Blackbear eating berries, Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Blackbear eating berries, Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Young wild timberwolf, Waterton National Park Alberta, Canada
Young wild timberwolf, Waterton National Park Alberta, Canada
Young wild timberwolf, Waterton National Park Alberta, Canada
Young wild timberwolf, Waterton National Park Alberta, Canada
Wild Blackbear eating berries, Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Blackbear eating berries, Waterton National Park Alberta Canada
Great Blue Heron, Waterton Lake National Park Alberta Canada
Great Blue Heron, Waterton Lake National Park Alberta Canada
Great Blue Heron, Waterton Lake National Park Alberta Canada
Great Blue Heron, Waterton Lake National Park Alberta Canada
Bison Paddock, Waterton National Park, Alberta Canada
Bison Paddock, Waterton National Park, Alberta Canada
Cataract Creek – Deer & Insects

Cataract Creek – Deer & Insects

While camping at Cataract Creek there was a deer that liked to hang out in the meadow behind our site and kept popping up every now and then. There was also no shortage of insects, so I got out my macro lens and played around a little bit.

Deer in the meadow
Deer in the meadow
Deer in the meadow
Deer in the meadow
Deer in the meadow
Deer in the meadow
Little Green Caterpillar
Little Green Caterpillar
Black Fly
Moth at night
Moth at night
Highwood Pass – The Wildlife

Highwood Pass – The Wildlife

As I mentioned in the previous post, I had a great trip out to Kananaskis. What I didn’t really mention is the dozens of Big Horned Sheep, the multiple Snowshoe Hares, the two absolutely beautiful Brown Bears, or the amazing encounter with a mother Grizzly and her little cub.

 

Wild Brown Bears in Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Big-Horned…. Bulls!

 

Rocky Mountain Big-Horned Sheep, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Mountain Ground Squirrel in Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Rocky Mountain Big-Horned Sheep, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Rocky Mountain Big-Horned Sheep, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

 
Wild Brown Bears in Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Wild Brown Bears in Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Wild Brown Bears in Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Wild Grizzly Bears, mother and cub, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Wild Grizzly Bears, mother and cub, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Wild Grizzly Bears, mother and cub, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Wild Grizzly Bears, mother and cub, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Wild Grizzly Bears, mother and cub, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Wild Grizzly Bears, mother and cub, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Wild Grizzly Bears, mother and cub, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Wild Grizzly Bears, mother and cub, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Rocky Mountain Big-Horned Sheep, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Rocky Mountain Big-Horned Sheep, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Rocky Mountain Big-Horned Sheep, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

 

Snowshoe Hare in summer, Kananaskis Country Alberta, Canada

 

 

Tofino #9 – Golden Bear

Tofino #9 – Golden Bear

The drive home was for the most part uneventful, we got into Kelowna late, and didn’t have time for anything but a bite to eat and a much needed soak in the hot tub (and it was Monday night of a long weekend so there wasn’t much to do anyway).

The next morning we took our time and got up nice and slow and off to a late start (for the first time of the entire trip). We stopped in Golden for lunch, where we happened to run into a couple of friends who had been out by Kamloops for the weekend (what are the odds).

Shortly after leaving Golden I spotted something on the side of the road, at first glance I thought it might be a bear, but as we got closer I dismised it as the back of some sort of sign. But then just as we passed by it lifted its head and looked right at me. We were on the Trans Canada doing about a 120 km an hours with traffic in front and behind us, so I couldn’t exactly just stop in the middle of the road. After a couple of minutes we finally found a turn off, and I decided I had to go back and see to be sure I wasn’t just seeing things (I had done a lot of driving over the past few days)!

Sure enough when we finally got back there it was, wandering the ditch eating grass and dandelions. As luck would have it, it was actually on the edge of a roadside pull-out, so we were even able to stop and take pictures while it made its way along the ditch.

What really got me, is that between the time I spotted it and the time it disappeared into the forest there was probably 100 cars that drove by and nobody else noticed it, which is somewhat scary considering it was probably only 15 feet from the side of the busy highway.

Wild Black bear in the grass, Golden, BC, Canada
Wild Black bear in the grass, Golden, BC, Canada
Wild Black bear in the grass, Golden, BC, Canada
Wild Black bear in the grass, Golden, BC, Canada

 

Tofino #4 – Bears!

Tofino #4 – Bears!

The highlight of the entire trip was without a doubt the bear watching tour that we took on our first morning in Tofino.

After (trying to get) a few hours sleep, we were up early the next morning and walked a couple of blocks to the Whale Centre, (http://www.tofinowhalecentre.com/) a fantastic outfit that we booked both our whale watching and bear watching tours through. After suiting up in  big read survival suits we headed down to the docks on  to the boat and out into the water. The idea of the bear watching tour is to head up river (or inlet or whatever it’s called I’m still not sure), during low tide when the bears come down to scour the shoreline for fish and crabs that are trapped in the rocks by the retreating tide.

I doubt we were out more than a kilometre or two when the guide pulled the boat off to the side laughing (he said he really didn’t expect to see a bear so soon), and pointed out a single black bear standing on the shore. We watched and took photos while it ate sea grass and the guide explained that they eat the grass, not for the nurishment, but because its so acidic that it raises the stomach ph. and enables them to be able to eat and digest whole crabs, shell and all. Another larger tour boat joined us after a while and frightened the bear into the trees, so we headed back out onto the water.

Following the channel upstream we eventually passed a large pen in the water (the first of many), which he told us was a Salmon farm, that particular one housing about 400,000 fish.

It was pretty appearent that the guide knew exactly where he was headed when we pulled into a little cove, and there on the shore was a mother Black Bear and a three really little cubs (he said he had spotted them there the day before).

We watched for a long while while the mother sifted through the rocks looking for food, and the cubs ran around playing amongst the rocks and whining at there mother (at one point she took them all up into the trees to nurse the cubs).

The boat we were on was really small, with seating for probably only 6 people, and other than the guide it was just me and Karl, and a young Asian woman who didn’t say a single word the entire trip but let out a giggle while watching the cubs wrestling on the shore. We watched for quite a while, the bears perfectly comfortable with out presence, going about their natural business, until again, another larger boat came by and scared them off.

After loosing the other boat, we headed back out watching the shorelines until we spotted another pair of bears, this time a mother and her yearling cub. We pulled right up onto the shore and watched as they worked their way efficiently down the shoreline turning over massive rocks one after another in the search for food.

The girl with us let out a gasp as the mother bear crossed in front of us, ducking under and rubbing against the bow of the boat, less than a metre and a half from where Karl and I sat at the front of the boat (we could easily have leaned forward, reached out, and touched her without leaving our seats). Eventually we moved on from there, leaving the bears to themselves.

While we were cruising the shoreline I asked the guide about eagles, because I was surprised we hadn’t seen any yet. I was just curious as to whether they were only there at certain times of the year, but he asured me that wasn’t the case, and about 30 seconds later one passed overhead.

Before we were done we saw another group of three bears (a mother and two yearlings, I think), as well as a couple of Bald Eagles perched up in the tree tops.

The outfit (http://www.tofinowhalecentre.com/) I would highly recomend to anybody, the small quiet boat let us get up nice and close without stressing out the bears, and the local native guide was particularily great, he was friendly and knowledgable, and you could tell he had a deep respect for the animals, and was enjoying himself almost as much as us, (his native chanting to himself while he drove the boat really helped set the mood).

The final count at the end of the morning was 10 bears, and a couple of Bald Eagles, even the guide was really impressed with our success and kept us out a bit longer than he should have.

Unfortunately we never saw any wolves or sea otters which I was really hoping to see, but overall the trip was absolutely amazing. And had we not been booked up for the next morning we both easily would have signed up for another tour.

Although I got some good pictures, the quality could have been better, it was still early morning, and pretty cloudy, so there wasn’t a whole lot of light. Between the 1.4 teleconverter I was using and the movement of the boat, even at 1000 ISO I still couldn’t get the high shutter speeds necessary, and so they didn’t turn out as sharp as I would have liked.

 

Coastal Black Bear
Coastal Black Bear Cubs
Coastal Black Bear Cubs
Coastal Black Bear Cub
Coastal Black Bear Cubs
Coastal Black Bear Cub
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bear – see the crab in her paws
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Salmon fish farm with some type of Grebe (I think) in the foreground.
Coastal Black Bears looking for food under rocks
Coastal Black Bears looking for food under rocks
Coastal Black Bears looking for food under rocks
Coastal Black Bears looking for food under rocks
Coastal Black Bears looking for food under rocks
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bear paw….. It was that close!
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Bald Eagle perched in a tree
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Coastal Black Bears
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle perched on a tree, British Columbia Canada


View Tofino Tours 2012-05-19 07:34 in a larger map

Map shows the track of both Bear and Whale watching tours, the bear trip is the inland portion.

Food Photography

Food Photography

Shooting pictures of food helps me get through the cold days of fall and winter when all the animals are hibernating, and It’s too cold to be outside.

I finally had a chance to get to know my new macro lens while shooting take-out sushi.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie
Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie
Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie
Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Pot Pie
Fresh Baked Loaf of Bread
Miso Soup
Take-out Sushi and Miso Soup
Maki Sushi
Maki Sushi
Maki Sushi
Maki Sushi
Maki Sushi
Maki Sushi
Maki Sushi
Maki Sushi
Black Bean Soup
Black Bean Tostada
Asian Beef Stir-Fry
Asian Beef Stir-Fry
Asian Beef Stir-Fry
Asian Beef Stir-Fry
Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding

 

Jasper – Day 3.

Jasper – Day 3.

On the third day we headed out early for another drive down Maligne Lake Road and again encountered nothing. So after a bit of breakfast in town we hit the highway and made the long slow journey home. This time taking the Icefields Parkway (Hwy. #93), making all the usual stops along the way. Climbing around the ice at Tangle Falls, taking the short hike down to Mistaya Canyon, chasing (not very) wild Ravens around a parking lot, and wandering the shores of Bow and Waterfowl Lakes. Though there wasn’t any wildlife to be seen, it was a good drive home and a nice autumn day to be out in the mountains.

Tangle Creek Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta
Tangle Creek Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta
Tangle Creek Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta
Wild Raven
Wild Raven
Waterfowl Lake, Banff Alberta
Waterfowl Lake, Banff Alberta
Bow Lake, Banff Alberta
Bow Lake, Banff Alberta
Lodge at Bow Lake, Banff National Park Alberta.
Black Bears 4,5,6,7, Jasper National Park

Black Bears 4,5,6,7, Jasper National Park

We had an amazing experience with this mother and her three cubs on the side of the road to Maligne Lake. It was just about sunset when we spotted her and started shooting pictures. But then after a few minutes we noticed something moving around in the tree tops and one after another the cubs slowly came down the tree to join her in the grass on the side of the road. It was really amazing how comfortable she was with us being there. At least until a couple of red-necked idiots in a pickup truck stopped by and taunted her untill the hair on the back of her neck was raised, and she took a protective position in front of her cubs. But thankfully they didn’t stay long. Other than that we were alone with them until it got too dark to see.

Mother Bear protecting her cubs

 

The next morning we went back to the same spot, and they were still there. Although this time there was people all over the place.causing a traffic jam in the middle of the road with a bunch of idiots getting out of their vehicles to take pictures with cell phones. These bears must have been really comfortable with people (they got within 5 metres of my car window), because they never ran away, but you could tell the obvious distress in the mother compared to the night before.

Black Bear in a pine

Watching the bears climb around in the branches of a pine tree, and run around wrestling with each other in the grass was pretty amazing to see, especially at such a close distance.

**I’m posting a gallery of photos because there’s too many to post individually, so you need to click on the images to see the full picture.

 

 

Black Bear 3, Jasper National Park

Black Bear 3, Jasper National Park

I have no idea how we spotted this bear (it’s the tiny black dot on the edge of the falls)! But there it was on the far side of Medicine Lake (it was really really far away), walking along the shoreline. When it got to the falls it made a couple attempts to cross and from what we could tell from that distance almost got washed downstream into the lake. Eventually it gave up and headed into the forest probably looking for an easier crossing.

There is a bear there somewhere.

Black Bear 2, Jasper National Park

Black Bear 2, Jasper National Park

We found the second bear of our trip to Jasper on the way to Maligne Lake. It was walking along the shores of Medicine Lake eating dandelions, completely oblivious to us. So we spent about an hour sitting in the pouring rain just watching it walk back and forth gorging itself on flowers.

Black Bear
Black Bear
Karst Springs – Black Bear

Karst Springs – Black Bear

I forgot to mention in the last post that everyone I was hiking with had left me an hour or two earlier at the falls so that I could stay behind to take pictures. Shortly after seeing the grouse I was walking down the trail with my head down, sorting through pictures on my camera’s LCD deleting photos to make room in case I found anything else worth photographing.When I came over a hill and found myself staring 20 metres down the trail at a mother Black Bear and her two little cubs. Being far to close for comfort I quickly backpedaled to a safer distance under the watchful eye of the bear, who eventually decided i wasn’t all that interesting, and turned back to scratching in the dirt. I quickly snapped what few pictures I had made room for on my camera, and deleted as many more as I could spare, before the bear turned it’s back to me and moved out of the light. It was about then that I realised that she was standing directly in my way,and I had little choice but to sit around and wait for it to clear the trail. I spent the next 20 minutes having a rather one-sided conversation with the bear (I thought talking to it might persuade it to find somewhere else to look for dinner…  it didn’t, although I wasn’t exactly being aggressive about it). Finally I was joined by two more groups of hikers. Which was enough to cause the bears to head into the shelter of the trees, and after a few minutes we decided that with the eight of us there it was probably safe to sneak past and be on out way.