Bear Update

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Lake Clark, Photos, Travel 2 Comments

A brown bear sow with two spring cubs digging for a clam.
A brown bear sow with two spring cubs digging for a clam.

The folks who were willing to wade through the maze of testing and other covid requirements were sure awarded with an absolutely amazing trip! Three sows appeared with spring cubs, including our favorite Crimp who has triplets this year! We saw lots of nursing, cubs playing, clam digging, even a wolf and fox, it was incredible. Plus, were basically the only ones in the fields the whole time. Looks like 2020 will be a year to remember in Alaska.

Olympus E-M1X and 300 f/4

Update

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Brown / Grizzly Bear nursing, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska.
Brown / Grizzly Bear nursing, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska

This photo is from June of 2014, seems like a lifetime ago!

I have received some really nice emails and calls checking on us to make sure all is well since I haven’t posted anything in awhile. In short, yes, fortunately all is well, but it has been a challenging few months and a fire threatening our Tucson Desert Photo Retreat seemed like the final blow. Thankfully, the Tortolita fire has been contained, and the threat mostly eliminated thanks very much to the many firefighters who battled that blaze in challenging conditions. Unfortunately, a second fire continues to burn and threaten other parts of Tucson, and my heart goes out to those folks.

Really beginning in March with our Arizona business and continuing until now, we have been busy with cancellations, re-bookings and working through many other challenges. It was hard to look out from the home office last week at a humpback whale and beautiful weather knowing I should have been leading my Kenai Fjords trip right then.

However, much has changed in the last couple of weeks. With Alaska’s requirement for a Covid test before flying, and offering a second test at the airport upon arrival, coupled with numerous other precautions including private rooms for everyone, and meals delivered to rooms, we are now ready to offer our first bear trip of the season with a small group. In fact, we will be the only group at the lodge, and likely the only people in the entire area! I hope I’m wrong, but I believe testing coupled with other precautions is how trips in Alaska will be lead this summer and next, so we might as well figure out how to do them safely.

I will say, I’m excited to get back to the bears, to a place where life revolves around nature, wildlife and tides.

Mendenhall Glacier

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Wildflowers on Mount Stroller White above the Mendenhall Glacier, Tongass National Forest, Alaska.
Wildflowers on Mount Stroller White above the Mendenhall Glacier, Tongass National Forest, Alaska.

Well being in quarantine has given me some extra time do go back through some past images looking for ones I may have missed, or that need further processing now that we have better tools for capturing shadows and highlights.  This was from an evening spent in the mountains above the Mendenhall Glacier with a buddy back in 2014 – wow times flies!  Right up there with one of the more memorable nights of photography I have ever had!   Tongass National Forest, near Juneau, Alaska.

Humpbacks

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Humpback whales cooperatively feeding, Southeast, Alaska.
Humpback whales cooperatively feeding, Southeast, Alaska.

Saw the first humpback whale of the season from the home office this morning.  Since I wasn’t able to capture a photo, I thought I would share one from last summer – whales and bears don’t seem to care about pandemics!   This group of humpbacks are cooperatively feeding, a behavior that is amazing to see!

Greatland Graphics Calendar

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Brown bear sow and cub, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska.
Brown bear sow and cub, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska.

So excited, honored and proud to have the cover of two of the three large calendars produced by Greatland Graphics. Greatland Graphics has been producing some of the nicest Alaska calendars for years, but what makes it extra special is it is now owned by good friend and outstanding photographer Patrick Endres.

Like so many of my fellow photographers this is a very challenging time, even for the calendar business. You see, most of these sell in gift shops in the summer to cruise ship passengers, and with many cruise ships being locked down these days, most of these calendars will go unsold. However, if you click on the link, you can order these wonderful calendars directly from Greatland Graphics. You will end up with a high quality product, and help an Alaskan business at the same time!

This photo was from a very memorable morning on one of my Alaska bear photo tours a few years ago. We were the only ones up this morning, and spotted this sow with two spring cubs very near the lodge – in fact, we were able to walk over to them from the lodge. These particular cubs were prone to climbing onto their mom’s back, a really cute behavior you don’t always see. Couple that, with perfect morning light, and we had a morning I’ll never forget. Unfortunately, we couldn’t contain our excitement once we returned to the lodge, so that was the last morning that week that we were the only ones up!

Moonrise

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Seward, Alaska.
Seward, Alaska.

Last night – another night, another cool moon rise!  It is early May and shocking to see how little snow is on these mountains right now, they should be buried in snow this time of year down to the water.

Salmon Slayer!

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Brown Bear, Southeast Alaska.
Brown Bear, Southeast Alaska.

Getting caught up on my editing from last summer and thought I would share a few.  We watched this brown bear catch fish after fish Baranof Island last July in Southeast Alaska!  

Kenai Fjords National Park Photo Tour

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Bear Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.
Bear Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

For the first time in years, I’m offering a Kenai Fjords National Park photo tour! In fact I’m offering two of them, and I have 1 spot remaining on one of the trips remaining available.

This trip has it all! A helicopter photo flight with the doors off and an extended landing high in the mountains. A paddle among the huge Icebergs of Bear Glacier Lagoon. Four full days / nights on a 65 foot yacht with a total of only four guests – we will be spending out days and evenings in the most amazing landscapes, not to mention all the wildlife including whales, puffins otters and eagles. This trip is timed around the peak of the killer whale viewing season. Plus, first rate lodging, Alaska Railroad and so much more. Follow the link for all the details.