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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Springtime bear travels

K and I had a fabulous ride this morning, navigating our favorite trails while both of us seemed to be bursting with energy. K led the way through a grove of aspens that haven't yet unfurled their spring green leaves.
Some aspen trees have dared to open their leaves - making a bet that our heavy springtime snows are over.
I love the contrast between green leaves and the snowy mountains behind them.
We headed to a lookout point with fabulous mountain views. However, K was extremely obsessed with a scent emanating from a huge rock outcropping about 50 yards away. She's staring at it in this photo. I decided not to investigate. We've had enough excitement in the last few days.
Sun and warmth are transforming our world a tiny bit each day. Although the snow shined white on the towering mountain, the meadow below has turned from brown to green in last few days.
I didn't meet any bears during mountain biking today so my streak ended at three days (unless I see one this evening). Someone asked whether I don't feel a tinge of fear when I see a bear when I'm out solo on my bike. I usually don't have time to feel afraid because the bear flees so rapidly. I've had many encounters over the past decade, and no bear has ever shown even the slightest bit of aggression. A few have acted as if they pretended not to see me and didn't flee... forcing me to radically change my route to avoid them. However, my impression, and the view of researchers, is that most black bears are very timid and work hard to avoid human contact.

No doubt, the bear traffic in our forest has been congested lately. After a long period of no bear sightings, we had one visit our house on 5/24, and then I saw bears in the forest during my bike rides on the following two days.
A wildlife camera showed a bear ambling by at about 11 PM on 5/24, heading vaguely in the direction of where I saw a bear on a trail the next morning.
Then, at almost 6 AM the next morning, a brownish bear passed the same wildlife camera as the bear from the night before.
There was almost a bear-jam that day on the wildlife corridor where I have my wildlife camera. Yet another bear passed by a little before noon. I believe that this bulky bear was not the same as the smaller black bear who walked this path the night before.
He or she sauntered slowly so the camera got a second photo...And, a third photo before he/she moved out of range.
Zooming in on the second photo a great view of the sole of a bear's paw. It's eerie how much a bear hind paw resembles a human foot. And, look how glossy the bear's fur is.
I believe that none of these bears were members of the trio whose den I monitored this winter. Here's a reminder of the distinctive brown snouts and eye rings that those bears sported. Also, notice the white spots on the chests of the yearling cubs. Those two are probably traveling without their mom now. Their mom is probably trolling solo for a mate.
I also haven't seen any bears who have the same facial scars or are as skinny as the visitor to the empty den in April.
That tells us that even more bears live in our territory than I've seen in the past few days. How cool is that?

I hope to get even more wildlife camera photos over the next month that probably is the peak of the breeding season. During this season, the bears tend to travel long distances, leaving scent markers to advertise their availability. They rub their backs on trees, rub their undersides on fallen logs, walk over saplings while urinating on them, and do many other antics to leave their scent markers. A bear might travel many miles in a day trying to mark as much territory as possible. That's why I think that my cameras are most likely to get bear photos in the coming month.

Happy Days!


  1. Quite exciting!

    I really am jealous of all of your wild life encounters. Recently, it was reported in my newspaper that deer were spotted inside a cemetery here in Staten Island. Coyotes have been found in Manhattan, too - but I don't want to know what happened to them after they were caught. I mentioned to my boyfriend that it'd be pretty cool if there were coyotes inhabiting our woods, but he said he'd be scared if they were. Sissy!

  2. You are having quite the bear party up there at the moment! I envy you all the fun encounters!

    Bunny would like to know if the nose nipping is a technique used by a certain labrador! I think she might try it!

  3. Earlier this week they snagged the young male hanging around Cumberland County (Harrisburg suburbs) -

    He's been relocated to a more bear friendly part of the state -

    Thanks for sharing these great pics!

  4. Hi KB,
    I'm in Sedona now - it's beautiful here - I'm sitting on my deck with a soft breeze blowing, writing to you! Your first photo of K running through the aspen groves made me homesick! So beautiful! Also, that dawn photo taken by the wildlife camera of the approaching bear is just wonderful. Have a great weekend, KB - I'll be homeward bound.

  5. We love the bear pics and are glad you are seeing a bunch of them!


    Jo and Stella

  6. Friday morning and the first thing I see on my screen is a great picture of a bear lumbering forward. A great start to the day.

  7. Truly happy days! I'm so excited to learn there are so many bears out there. I made my home in Estes Park for many years, and I believe we had two sightings the entire time I was there. It is so wonderful to learn they are out there, just avoiding us and keeping the peace!

  8. Your aspen grove picture makes me want to board a plane to Colorado. I'm enjoying all the wildlife activity you've captured on film. It's fun to see the changes in animal activity through the seasons.

  9. There was great excitement in our county over the siting of one bear last summer...made some of us a little anxious. I love the brown bear photo!


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