Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Swamp Bears

Paul had realised the best site for pictures on this trip was the swamp, so we each had two nights there with the chance to see both adults and the family of 3 month old cubs.  The swamp was an open area of cotton grass and bog.  By the time we were there the ground was getting a little worn in places and the hides were due to be  moved.  Nevertheless it was a picturesque spot and the light was generally better for photography even despite the light rain on the second night.

I guess I don't have to say it was the young cubs that were the star draw here, even though I also got some of my favourite adult shots of the trip too.

The night followed the usual ritual - settle into the hides, watch the guides put down some feed and wait for the bears (after the gulls). On the second night the Italian photographers next door put some honey on the trees in the hope of seeing the bears climb up.

The mum was hugely attentive of the youngsters, and a single grunt when she saw a male bear appear was enough to send them scurrying for the woods and up a tree, until she gave the all clear.  There was plenty of time to watch them playing though - at first in the trees but then out in the open.  A couple even started to eat the cotton grass like lollipops.
It was hard at times not to anthropomorphise - I swear in the first pic one is telling the other where to run (or maybe it's thrown it a stick to chase), and in the second it looks as though there's a bit of flashing taking place!

Look closely here - one of the cubs is hiding from the rain.

And yes - they did climb the trees, as did one of the older cubs.  Thank goodness Kay was there as backup - I snipped off the base of the tree when all 3 climbed up.
The adults also liked the trees but for a good scratch rather than the honey!

The swamp also offered a good chance for some portraits of the adults and other youngsters.  You can see how they ignored the hides

(apart from one youngster who tried to stick his head through a window!).  The cotton grass made a nice backdrop as did the setting sun, whilst in some shots of the adults walking or the older cubs playfighting you can see the spray of water from the boggy ground (you need to look at the bigger views though).
Looking at this shot of a female you can see she is just that - a boob showing clearly in the armpit (bear porn).

Several times I had noticed that the bears would lift food to their mouths on the back of their paws, but this one was standing up and looked like it was nibbling a sandwich.

So there we are, the last of the bear shots - honest.  After a 'shoot' I tend to have favourite shots.  Sometimes at a later stage I change my mind but I suspect these closing pics will always be near the top of my list - a relaxed family group and a shot that really shows the powerful movement and size of the big males (don't know where that blue tint came from though?).

A few more snaps of a non-bear variety will round off the Finland trip - but this has been more than a long enough post!

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