Land of the midnight bear – part III

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For our third night with the bears we decided to return to the swamp hide in the hope of spending some more time with the mother bear and young cubs we’d been privileged to watch there previously.

We were lucky to have some beautiful light that evening, probably the best of the entire trip. The activity was a lot slower though and by 9 o’clock we were still hoping to see our first bear.

The bears didn’t let us down though and just as the sun started to dip behind the trees a mother and yearling appeared. The light was beautiful by this time,  taking on a deep red, vibrant  quality.

Shortly afterwards another mum appeared, this time leading  two first year cubs out into the swamp. It was a question of working fast as we were about to lose the light completely as the sun continued to set.

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It was so hot in the hides that evening that I’m afraid to say that the majority of the above images were shot sitting in my pants. You didn’t want to know that did you?

Of course, at this time of year the sun never completely sets at this latitude and there is always available light.  Which is just as well since experience over the two trips has taught us the bears, being predominantly nocturnal,  seem to prefer these  low light conditions and are more active.

Cue the arrival in the swamp of our favourite bear cubs. We named them the ASBO twins, being  as they were a right pair of teenage happy-slapping, ringtone, hoodies, leaving a tsunami of destruction in their wake.  The next set of images really need to be viewed to the accompanying sound track of the Kaiser Chiefs’ ‘I predict a riot’!

Tree climbing was a favourite activity…not content with just climbing trees though, whilst up there they decided to engage in a spot of play fighting. Which was hilarious as the tree swayed and bent precariously under their combined weight.

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By this time Pressie was in tears of laughter , which wasn’t helping matters as I was having a job trying to keep it together myself and shoot straight. Getting up the tree was the easy part of course, this little one made his way down a lot more tentatively…as the hamster in the Weetabix advert says ‘I’m alright!’

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Finally back on terra firma though it wasn’t long before he (It’s definitely a ‘he’ if you look closely!) was looking for trouble again.

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Another favourite game seemed to be for one sibling to rush up to the other and knock them over. Hilarious (and by this time Pressie was doubled up on the floor with laughter). The next sequence I shot pretty much frame by frame.  For me they’re my favourite images of the trip. Some of the images from the sequence appeared in the Mail earlier this summer in fact. This though for the first time is the entire sequence for your viewing pleasure. I like to think it tells the story much better than my clumsy attempts at wordmanship. I hope you like them….

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After all that action it was time for a sit down (I needed a lie down). I really like this next shot. You can just see that he’s thinking up more mischief. Probably wondering which tree to uproot next.

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The next two shots are of a yearling cub. When they stand up they don’t do it for long and I missed a fair few, so I was pleased with this one.

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Did someone mention uprooting trees?

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As the morning sun started to rise , so the landscape was illuminated once again, presenting some different sorts of opportunities.

By now Pressie was fast asleep, exhausted after three nights of frantic bear activity so I was up on my own, trying to stay awake. With no bears to photograph I spent my time photographing the backlit cotton grass and trying to work out the exposure. I was a little surprised to say the least therefore to look up and see this particular bear standing right outside the hide perfectly backlit. He stayed just long enough for me to take a few images before he disappeared back into the forest. It was the perfect end to a perfect night. Time to pack everything away as Mikka came to get us. And time to wake up another sleeping bear. This blog  is dedicated to Pressie who loves the bears and made it such a joyful trip.

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Click on image to enlarge

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2 Responses to Land of the midnight bear – part III

  1. Tony Deegan says:

    Absolutely wonderful photos. I thought the selection of the cubs at play couldn’t be bettered, and then you add that final image which is possibly the most striking of all from the three threads. Excellent!

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