Time for a hired lens
23/06/15Another 7 am start and we were soon with the bears in good light and some different activity. Initially the female in lupins and then after a short period of grazing they stopped at a little stream to drink before then crossing through the stream. The female was obviously nervous and so we got lots of photos of it standing up.
We crossed the stream to follow them and despite the fact that they are much larger we discovered that they are more agile as one of the group fell into the very sticky mud.
After breakfast we set off again to another area that we had not previously visited in the hope of seeing the sow with its spring cubs, but with no success. We drove back to the main area near the lodge and after two hours we reluctantly gave up with just a few distant sightings. There is quite a strong wind and the bears are not able to hear clearly, this being their main sense, and so they stay in amongst the trees. Such is the nature of wild life viewing and photography. Headed back to the lodge for 90 minutes of downtime and a chance to catch up on shaving, showering, downloading photos etc.
Most of the group are good company but there is one couple to whom I have applied the "Foster" principle. This is named after my friend David Foster who I met on the two trips last year to Antarctica. It would be fair to say that David does not suffer fools gladly. He believes life is too short to waste it on human assholes. His approach is not to start a conversation, ignore them if at all possible and if asked a question to reply with a monosyllabic, single word, if a grunt cannot suffice. (Sorry, David, maybe a slight exaggeration). The couple in question are boring and rude, and I regret to say, although not surprised, that they are both doctors. Some examples - this morning after breakfast he asked what was the plan and were we going out to look for grizzly bears! He has a shed load of expensive kit, but before every drive he asks the group,leader which lens he should take. Yesterday after photographing the puffins he told me he didn't do much bird photography - I think a reaction to the fact that he had not managed to get any shots of the puffins in flight - and that he actually didn't like birds as his parents had a parrot when he was younger. In fact his favorite animals to shoot were dogs and cats on the street, in "their natural environment". Not bad for a wildlife photographer. But best of all was when we were discussing the tufted puffins and it was commented that they tend to nest towards the end of July, which is also about the time the bears head to the mountains. He asked if this was coincidence or if the bears hunted and ate puffins. Now that I would love to photograph, because although they can swim it would be amazing to watch a bear hunting a bird that spends 80% of its life far out at sea and then nests on cliff faces on isolated islands.
Bad news and good news on the technical front with one of my lenses. The main lens that I have been using has developed a problem. It would appear that the aperture control mechanism is not working correctly. Had to do some adapting yesterday which was not easy. But this morning I remembered that there are two lenses available for hire at the lodge and out of all the possible lenses and manufacturers one is the Nikon lens that I have been using. Happy Days as I am now back up and running.
We went out this afternoon at about 3pm armed with my hired lens and I am so glad that I had it. This afternoon more than made up for the non-profitable morning. I photographed mother and cubs clamming on the beach, the cub pointlessly chasing a seagull through the water, the mother and cub walking in a line down the beach with the snow covered mountains in the background,a male and a female crossing the water, the female lying down and having a good scratch and while we were waiting a Bald Eagle flying overhead.
Didn't see an "Alaskan cocktail" so still hoping for bears mating and fighting and most of all to see spring cubs. Another drive in 30 minutes, starting at 8.10pm and then one more day, so fingers crossed