Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Berries were everywhere. Our first of the year Black Bear

The recent monsoon rains had come at just the right time. The berries had plumped up and it was the best crop we have ever seen. Besides the service berries the Hawthorn trees were almost sagging from the weight, (In the previous blog I misidentified these as hackthorn berrries).
Added to that choke cherries were also everywhere, along with Oregon grapes,
rose hips,
and snow berries! All are bear food!
It was perfect timing for the bears had entered hyperphagia, that’s when they begin to eat for twenty hours a day as they must put on weight for the long hibernation. A friend Bruce had stopped by and told us that he had seen five bears and had even watched as a bear as it ran right in front of a woman, almost knocking her over. It didn’t care about her as it only wanted to avoid the others hiking on the trail, (most of the time you never see bears as they run away from people).
We had some business to take care of in Jackson and so Fred and Becky agreed to meet us at our favorite black bear spot. Just as we arrived at our rendezvous spot, Becky called us and told us that they had seen two black bears. They had not gotten any pictures as Fred was driving. We drove up the road and when we approached the spot a member of the bear management team told us that the bears had just left, (you can see a pile of bear scat on the road). Seeing a bear is really a matter of luck, timing, and perseverance. You have to be lucky. We finally met up and they told us of their bear encounters, we hoped that soon we would also spot one. Hiking along our favorite trail we walked past tree after tree, filled with berries. Black Capped Chickadees were everywhere.
Stopping to glass the forest fringe we never did see any moving bushes or heard any branches breaking. We even stopped at places from previous years and waited for a bear to materialize. None did. We ate lunch at a parking lot where three members of the bear management team were taking a break. Suddenly they all got in their vehicles and took off down the road. Someone must have reported a bear. Finishing our lunch we decided to drive down the road and hope a bear was visible, (the trees and underbrush are so thick that its really hard to spot one). Ahead cars were lined up and a team member was waving them through, one at a time. As we were waved through, I saw movement, a large cinnamon black bear, (grizzly bears have a prominant hump). I tried to take a picture, but it didn’t work, the bear was too close for my large lens, (too close means I am less than twelve feet)! All I got were blurry bushes.
You are not allowed to stop your car or get out and so taking a picture of a bear is difficult. Further down the road we were able to turn around and I readied Renita’s camera. Returning to the small line of cars we were again waved though and the bear was in an open spot, barely a foot from the edge of the asphalt road!
Taking a image after image, we finally got a few good ones of the bear.
It didn’t care about the cars or the bear management team, it was concentrating on the berries. We again turned around but when we got back to the bear’s location we discovered that the bear had crossed the road and was swimming in a beaver pond.
The problem here was that cattails lined the road. My camera was focusing on them and not the bear. As we could not stop I could not use manual focus. Oh no! I did get a blurry shot of the bears head, Finally ,on our last pass, the bear swam out of sight and all we got was a shot of its wet hindquarters.
It didn’t matter we had seen a black bear. It was the first one we have spotted this year. All of our other bear encounters have been grizzlies. We were tired but elated as we retuned home. Next up we are making a short trip to Montana to see our daughter Jen and her husband, Eric. Hopefully while there we will see more bears. Its bear time! Clear skies

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