Alaskan Coastal Brown Bears
During early September I was in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska. I was co-running a trip with Mark Sisson and this was my third time visiting this wonderful part of the Alaskan coast. Our target for this trip was to try and capture the dramatic images of the Brown Bears that congregate along the coast each autumn. The Bears are waiting for the Silver Salmon to run as they migrate back to their spawning grounds. This natural event is so important to this population of Bears as they need to build up their fat reserves ready for the onslaught of winter. I fell in love with this place three years ago and it is without a doubt one of the best experiences that you can have in the natural world.
This year was an exceptional year for the Silver Salmon and the guys at the lodge where we stay said it was the best ever for terms of numbers. Surprisingly their where less bears around than what we have encountered in previous years but it didn’t matter because at least there where here. As we did a U-turn to land on the beach in our small bush plane we flew over two bears fishing in the estuary, a welcome sight. Last year on our trip we had many opportunities to photograph a female called crimp ear and her two young cubs. She was back for another year and her two cubs had survived the winter and were looking in great shape.
These cubs were crimp ears first and she has done so well to get both of them to this age. It was such a good Salmon run though and the cubs were looking pretty well fed. She is an expert at catching Salmon and it is an amazing sight to witness as she charges through the water after her prize.
In previous years it was much easier to catch these kinds of images because it was much harder for her to catch the Salmon, not this year though as the fishing was so good. It did give us lots of chances to photograph her with her catch.
During this trip the tides dictate to when we are likely to find the bears and so by high tide the Bears find it hard to catch the fish in the deeper water and so find somewhere peaceful to rest. This year was different again because the bears then headed up the creeks to continue their fishing which was great for us because the autumn colours seemed really intense this year.
I love the excitement in trying to capture the bears hunting the Salmon but I really liked the opportunities to photograph Crimp Ears cubs as they were so photogenic. The portraits of her two cubs are some of my favourite bear shots.
Crimp ear had her favourite spots for fishing but throughout our stay she was being challenged by another female bear for the right to fish it. Once this female turned up she would usually back off taking her cubs with her but on one occasion she had just had enough of this intrusion. I have got to say this was the most exciting 6 minutes of my photography career as crimp ear finally stood up to this other female. It was an amazing spectacle to witness and the old adrenalin was pumping as the fight unfolded just a few feet away.
Crimp was so much smaller than this female but she is a real scrapper and eventually got the better of her. She managed to get around to her back and gave a nasty bite to back of her rival. The sheer power of grizzly unfolded before our eyes and our respect for them went through the roof.
So there you go another selection of bear images to add to my portfolio and I am already looking forward to next year. I am going back in late June next year to try and capture some different type of images but whilst we were there David offered us a chance to go back in early September to run another trip. We have already sold a few places but if you would like the opportunity to join us on this amazing adventure, you can book through the Natures Images website. I would like to thank all our guests that shared this amazing experience with us and I would also like to thank David and Joanne for making it such a warm experience. Thanks also to Dave, Brian and Rick our guides, your knowledge gets us into the right places. I will just finish off with a few more of my favourite from this wonderful place.Back to news index