If you go down to the woods today …

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This blog post almost feels redundant with all the press coverage these three little bears have received in recent days in both the national press (with coverage in the Daily Mail, Times, Telegraph, Metro and Mirror) and internationally. They even made it on to Good Morning America and Chinese State TV. That’s what you get when you go on a  Natures Images trip I guess!

Our last location for the trip is in my humble opinion without doubt the finest place to photograph the European Brown bear. You only have to look at the stunning images that have come from this location over the years.

This was my third visit to this location in as many years. Last year we had had a wonderful time watching the antics of the bear cubs. This time though no cubs had been seen prior to our arrival and we only had a couple of days there so my expectations were duly conditioned. To be honest, I was just looking forward to catching up with old friends again. Bears and guides alike!

It was a real surprise to be told on our arrival by Marku our host that in the last week three mothers had started to visit with their cubs. The reason for their late arrival was most probably because of the wet weather of May and June putting the mating season back a couple of weeks.

It was a real joy to watch the cubs’ boisterous play. It was great to capture them climbing trees…

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play fighting….

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And generally just looking cute and adorable….

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There was a serious point to all this horseplay. These cubs were learning important life lessons. Both mother and cubs alike were always watchful for large males making their way from the forest interior into open swamp.

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Ever protective, on spotting a male the mother bear would quickly move the cubs back to the relative safety of the forest where they could climb high out of harm’s way

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Tree climbing proved to be something more of a challenge though for this particular yearling!

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Over the course of my three visits to this particular location, I’ve started to build something of a portfolio of this most charismatic of boreal predators. One thing I’ve struggled with though is capturing images that really get to the heart of the boars’  (male bears) character. With lots of opportunities (at one point I counted 11 males in front of our hide – sort of like the Lynx effect but in reverse!) this was something that I was really able to work on during  this trip. This next bear had character in abundance. A huge old boy with a deep scar across the bridge of his snout. If you check out Danny’s recent blog  you’ll see a close up of that scar.

 

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It was a magical couple of days. This location never fails to disappoint. My only regret was that Pressie (visiting her parents in Bulgaria for the summer) wasn’t there this year to share in the bears’ antics. Sorry Dan you’re a great friend but it’s not quite the same!

Solitary male bears also visited the first location of our trip and the next three shots come from a couple of really nice encounters we had.

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I deliberately selected a slow shutter speed for this next shot. The bears here are particularly wary. They can’t half shift it when they need to. I don’t blame them with wolves around!

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Wolves? Where wolves? (sorry I couldn’t resist!). It is to the wolves and Lassi’s place to which I will return for the last of my trip reports. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, it did.

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