14 Aug 2015--Two days ago, or Wednesday evening to be exact, Cathy and I took one last stab at taking a ride out to an area of Haines that we were told had had several "bear and babies" sightings over the past week or so. We had driven out the 2 previous nights, but no luck. The night before, people told us we were 10 minutes late in seeing 2 different momma/baby groups...grrrr! We would rather we had not been told that...it was painful to think we had missed them by so narrow a time frame.
Anyway, the skies were threatening all day, so it was initially pretty dreary (as Alaska defines dreary-haha), but we were looking high and low before anything turned up.
But, boy oh boy, did we ever hit the jackpot when they finally did show themselves!!! Here is momma, in all her glory, scouting around and fishing to feed herself and her 2 little babies. In this 1st video, I have just run up the street to get where we could see where the mother was heading with her cubs. I am not only winded from the slightly uphill run, but my adrenaline is pumping because I am so excited to see this, I can't believe she is no more than the width of that stream away from us.
Check out how she puts her face into the water to look for fish in the 3rd pic, and how she is always watching around her even in the water in the 1st video. Also, check out how close they are to us while we stand on the bridge in the 2nd video. I thought we were about 30 feet above her when I was talking in it, but when I saw another video that I haven't posted, I would recalculate that it had to be no more than 20 ft below! The babies couldn't be any cuter, but take a close look at their claws...not too far behind mom in that department!
A little up from where we were viewing the bears sat this guy, in the middle of the river, literally counting salmon. If you blow up the 1st pic you will see him half way across this metal barrier that stretches clear across the river, sitting all bundled up at the one and only opening in the barrier that allows the salmon upstream. You can see the small opening below his feet in the 2nd pic. The amount of fishing the population can do is determined by how many fish this guy counts on a daily basis. Even the eagles seemed to watching the count! haha
Because it is the end of the season, most of the salmon coming up this river have already spawned and died, so the bears and eagles don't have to work too hard to eat their fill of fish. They just scoop up the dead ones! This female looks so overwhelmingly strong, but we were told she really had to put more meat on her bones before winter sets in. Look at her claws, and in some of the pics you can even see her teeth!!! But then see her interact with the cub for a second, and she seems so warm and cuddly...haha. In the pic beside the video, she is laying down on her back and the cub ends up coming over and playing on her. I wish I got that on the video, but...!
Here she is raising up because she hears or sees something in the distance. Can you imagine walking along and having her popping up in front of you! haha It makes me nervous just to think about it. haha
The eagles watch from on high, while mom, and even the babies try to get higher for a better view!
You know the mother could take the fish anytime she wants it, but it is cute to watch the babies when they think they are getting away with one. They were clearly hungry, and in this video one takes off running with a fish so the others can't have it! haha
In the 1st pic, and then again in the last 2 pics, eagles are definitely looking to cash in on the feeding. We were so mesmerized by the bears, the eagles were almost an after thought!
The babies were eating and playing a lot, but always looking to see where mom was.
Moms just about ready to call it a night, leading the cubs away and taking a last sniff to check out the area. In this picture here she has taken a few swipes of her paw to scoop up the surrounding grasses and munches quite a bit of it. Must help with digestion, I guess!
She went through some woods and came out on the other side to cross the street in front of us as we were leaving. You can see a car directly in front of us, so I missed the other baby, but off she went, and so did the last eagle of the night!!!
So after 2 1/2 of the most incredible hours of our lives, the skies started to clear as we made our way home, and then they set themselves on fire for us!!! Honestly, have you ever seen anything more beautiful than this???
Between Cathy and I we took 535 pictures and videos during the 2 1/2 hours we spent watching the bears. And trying to go through them to determine which ones to leave out of the blog has been excruciatingly difficult. haha But hard as it has been, just looking at them again as I wrote this makes me shake my head with the wonder of this beautiful world!!! Dramatic? Yes. True? Oh God, Yes!!!