When I was in the Khutzeymateen (K’tzim-a-deen) in June, the sedge was waist-high in the estuary which sits at the end of park’s fjord. The Grizzly bears come out of hibernation in late May or early June and the grass is growing fast and waiting for them. We spent an hour watching this boar mowing a path through the green. He was a big, beautiful bear and it was a privilege to spend some time watching him in his valley.
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We took the zodiac from the sailboat in the morning and were lucky that the weather didn’t beat us up. The rain varied between a drizzle and a downpour which provided great mood to some of the images. Being in the Great Bear Rainforest on the west coast, it can rain hard and often does. There is a point where it is impossible to photograph, or even stay outside, but that day it went easy on us and played nicely. Along the way we saw several bears at different points in the estuary and only headed out when the tide started to come in.
Last weekend I was in Kananaskis and was very fortunate to watch a Grizzly bear digging up roots, swimming in the Kananaskis River and walking above and along the shoreline. After a beautiful, mist-filled morning at Wedge Pond I pulled out my longer lenses and drove along Highway 40 intent upon driving over the Highwood Pass. There is a spot a few kilometres south of Mount Kidd where a bend in the river draws close to the road and affords a clear view of both sides of the shoreline.
I saw the bear walking into the forest above the water as I came up to the river bend. She came back into sight a couple hundred metres further down in a small clearing. For a half an hour she shuffled between a couple of similar breaks in the forest above the water. I thought she was going to continue around the corner and out of sight but instead she walked into the water and swam across to the other shore. She pulled out of the water and set about digging back in the trees for most of an hour.
She came into clear view on the bank twice which allowed for some nice opportunities. The rest of the time I enjoyed watching her as she went about her business. During this time, one of the park rangers stopped by and monitored the bear for a while. He kindly shared information about this beautiful animal. She is Bear Number 151 and is one of three cubs that left their mother this spring. The mother is native to Kananaskis and raised the triplets in the area for their first three years covering an impressive amount of territory during that time.
151 looked very healthy and the ranger confirmed that these bears were doing well and had not developed any habits which could bring them into conflict with people. I was very glad to hear that. He carried on with his duties which called him to other parts of Kananaskis and I continued watching her. Several times, when a few minutes had passed with no sign of her, I thought she had melted into the forest and ended this special encounter. At one point I didn’t see her for 15 minutes and had begun packing up my gear. I looked back towards the river just as she stepped out of the thick bushes and onto a sandy strip on the far side of the river.
She sniffed at the air, angled to her left and crossed the sand. At the water, she crossed a shallow part and then swam over to a dead tree likely uprooted in the 2013 flood.
It was a first for me to watch a bear climb this kind of tree, with all of the spiny branches, in this river shore landscape.
I really had fun photographing her moving through her land. When she got onto the bank, returning to the clearing where I had first photographed her, she made a quick dig for roots and then walked into the woods towards the road. I jogged up to the road and after a few minutes she came out a few hundred metres north, quickly crossed the road and headed into the forest that anchors the western slope of The Wedge.
The morning mists in Bragg Creek get caught in the trees when they start to dissipate as the day warms up. It provided a nice background when I saw this White-tailed deer walking through the wet grass.
The beavers that maintain the ponds in Wild Rose, west of Bragg Creek, are busy eating and storing saplings and branches they have harvested. This one was enjoying a meal while floating in the water on a crisp morning this weekend.
A few years ago I photographed river otters swimming in a pond in between the Columbia River and the town of Radium in British Columbia. They swam around for an hour and I had great fun watching them. I never looked through these images afterwards but came across them while working on a client’s project. I enjoyed having a look at these again and particularly liked how this image looked in black and white.
This dragonfly flew by me when we were at a friend’s wedding near Osoyoos. I took that to be a good sign and was not surprised in the least that it turned out to be a great day.
With the cooler mornings of late August, mist becomes a frequent visitor before dawn in Bragg Creek. This young White-tail stag stared at me from a field near the hamlet which gave me a moment to photograph him surrounded by, and almost a part of, the mist on the weekend on a day that started very close to freezing.
This wonderful bear strode through the estuary during low tide in the Khutzeymateen Inlet. June is a time when all of the bears are wary of one another’s intentions but that didn’t stop this lady from walking down the centre of the river. I saw her a couple of times during our trip into the provincial park but this was the only time where she was in the water.
Well, not the whole thistle, just its flower. At the same rest stop where we watched chipmunks eating berries, there were Columbia Ground Squirrels (Urocitellus columbines) scurrying about on an embankment.
They stood up to watch us, creating a short staring contest with my son, before resuming their runs from rock to rock and other spots around the hillside. I was in a good position when one of them approached a thistle because it was a few feet away and the squirrel ran towards me with little regard for me or my camera.
The dexterity of its fingers and the delicate nibbling were really cool to watch up close. And provided a nice distraction from the drive.
Not me, the Stellar Jays on the deck of my aunt and uncle’s house in Nelson.
There are a pair of these beautiful birds that live near the house and they call for peanuts a few times throughout the day. These cries are rewarded and the opportunity to photograph them was not one I passed on. At my home we have several blue jays that favour our backyard so it was fun to look at these birds closely and compare and contrast with “ours”.
I grew up in the Kootenays but moved away almost twenty years ago. Luckily Marnie and John have kept their house there and we try to get out to visit them at least once every summer. I missed last year and sadly this year was only a one night stay. However, it was great to see them, to meet their resident jays and to enjoy one of my favourite places in the world.