The fall grizzly bear tours from Grizzly Bear Lodge spent there day on the Glendale River located on Knight Inlet about 40 km (26 m) from the lodge. The salmon have arrived in the river and the grizzlies are hungry. And if one was to ascribing human emotions or motives to this bear it would be “determination”. It came down the bank focused of the water ignoring other bears in the area and began to fish catching a salmon and walking back up the bank to eat and then repeated the process. It did this for about an hour and then walked away down the road.
On a clear whale watching day these two photos would not be confusing. One of a killer whales approaching the boat and the other of a humpback when it is rolling on it’s side and showing its pectoral flipper. But on a foggy day or from a distance without binoculars many guides have confused the pectoral flipper for a dorsal fin and made a radio call to claim a pod of orca only to have to admit the error. Either picture on it’s own is excellent the confusion is only embarrassment.
The reason for watching grizzly bears on the rivers of British Columbia’s coast is to obtain photos and more important memories of the grizzlies catching and eating salmon. This photo of a bear eating the “whole” salmon shows a hungry bear. At the start of the salmon arriving in the rivers the grizzlies have been eating sedge grass, root, bulbs, berries and turning over rocks on the beach for three or four months. This food source keeps them alive and adds a little fat but what the coast bears want is salmon and when they first arrive they eat the whole salmon. At the end of the salmon run and just before denning (hibernation) if the bears do not have a sufficient fat layer they again will eat the whole fish. In between these two times grizzlies are more selective catching only the females for their eggs or just eating the skin and its fatty layer or the brain.
These photos represent the opposite of a lunge feed for a humpback whale. The whale watching tour from the lodge travels to an area known as Bold Head that is on BC’s inside passage or route to Alaska. In this picturesque area the whales come to feed on the abundant herring. A lunge feed is when the whales suddenly come up beneath a ball or school of herring with their mouth open and lunge out of the water. In today’s photos the opposite happens. The whale opens it’s mouth as wide and comes up very slowly often spinning in a circle for up to a minute before closing it’s mouth very slowly to trap an many herring as possible.
Today’s blog and pictures tie in with yesterdays. On the ground behind the last guest heading down to the falls is a dark patch of what look like dug up ground which is a mixture of scratching and bear scat shown in today’s first photo. Directly behind but hard to see is a green garden hose the second of today’s photos. Looking closely at the garden hose it is noticeable that it has been well chewed. The interesting thing is that neither of these was present the day before. On the trip the previous day we were on the cabin deck when two sub-adult grizzlies came up the trail from the falls and were not pleased that we were there as they wanted to pass on the road by the cabin and we made it uncomfortable for them. Rick had been having trouble with these two for several days and said the fresh bear scat and chewed garden hose meant that they were not happy with him either.
If you choose to spend an extra day at Grizzly Bear Lodge it is normally spent with trapper Rick. On this day we cross Knight Inlet through Thompson Sound to the Kakweikan River a forty-five minute boat ride. The ride may be longer because we often encounter pacific white-sided dolphins and black bear. This river is located on the BC mainland and we travel by road to Rick’s cabin. The first photo is the view from the deck of the cabin overlooking the salmon ladder and the falls. The second is guests on a mission to get photos of grizzly bears fishing below the falls. As normal when traveling in this area Rick is in the lead and the lodge guide brings up the rear and take occasional the picture.
To view a map of the areas mentioned scroll down the sidebar on the left to “Pages” then to “Google Map of Grizzly Bear Lodge Itinerary”.
But on this day the male grizzly was not far behind. We left these bears and had our picnic lunch. Came back about an hour later and he has followed her into the estuary and was still giving her his undivided attention.
Decision made she headed up the beach past the bow of the boat into the back of the Glendale River estuary. The river mouth is a large flat sedge grass covered area and easier to travel on than the rocky beach. We have viewed other female grizzlies take this approach when wanting to escape form an unwanted suitor…..more tomorrow.
It was a hot day so she was enjoying the swim spending five minutes or more moving up and down the beach. She was not sure of the best way to escape the bear but seemed to enjoy the cooling water….more tomorrow.
This female grizzly eventually retreated to the water to escape some unwanted attention. It could be the health of the male’s grizzly or she may have already bred with another bear either reason she wanted to be as far away from this male as possible…..more tomorrow.
Although this photo does not have a date to determine the time of the year it was taken late in the season likely September. Fall bears have a pretty good layer of fat and this means they float much higher in the water. The early season black bears often have only their head out of the water and very little of their back. As I mentioned in yesterdays post the lodge is in an area of many small islands and bears are good swimmers that travel between island. It seems that they believe in the “grass in greener on another island” philosophy. This same philosophy has brought several grizzly bears to Minstrel Island where our lodge is located. As the population of grizzlies grow in the area of Knight Inlet it has become more common it see grizzlies on the evening black bear tours and while looking for whales and orca.