Friday, August 10, 2012
Grizzly Bear Viewing in Katmai - Part 1
During our trip I have occasionally been checking in on my favorite photography forums. A number of posts have been by people who had been to Alaska this summer to photograph grizzly bears (aka brown bears). Many of those images were taken in Katmai National Park in southern Alaska. This really sparked a desire for us to also witness these magnificent animals in their natural habitat. Homer, Alaska is one of the major bases for day trips to view bears in Katmai. While we were visiting Homer, we were able to book such a day trip. The tour operators use float planes and fly to locations that are currently active, as the salmon runs progress during the summer. Our trip went to Moraine Creek where red salmon (Sockeye salmon) were collecting prior to spawning. Many brown bears were gathering along this section of Moraine Creek to partake in the bounty.
At the float plane dock in Homer.
On the flight across the Cook Inlet, we flew close to the summit of the Augustine volcano.
This is Crosswinds Lake, our landing spot in Katmai National Park.
Our plane on the lake.
A Willow Ptarmigan was on the shore to welcome us.
As soon as we had hiked to the bluff overlooking the stream, we started seeing bears.
After climbing out of the stream, this bear was shaking his fur out just like a dog would.
Most of the bears along the stream were males. Since big males will eat cubs, sows with cubs avoided sections of the stream with other bears. We saw this sow with two cubs crossing the hillside, but never saw her come down to the water.
While we were sitting at the top of the bluff, bears would occasionally wander close by. This one started foraging in the grass just behind us. Its presence was brought to our attention by Barbara frantically whispering "Art, Bob, bear, bear, behind us!". Of course, what to do, but turn and take pictures!