Saturday, August 18, 2012

Anan Creek Bear Viewing

Friday August 17

Black Bear Caught a Salmon
The day promised to be warm and sunny! The fourth sunny day in a row!!

We anchored in front of the ranger's float on a steeply rising slope. We made sure the anchor was well set, because we didn't want Raven Song to sit on a shallow ledge that came way out into the bay. We took the dinghy to the trail head and listened to the ranger explaining the rules.
Brown Bear (Grizzly) Mother with Two of her Three Cubs
In front of us, another group was waylaid when a mother grizzly decided that she and her 3 cubs should take a nap on the boardwalk trail. She covered the boardwalk with dirt and settled down for a 40-minute nap! When we arrived, they were in the lagoon wandering away.
A Favorite Fishing Hole
At the end of the trail is the covered observatory platform overlooking Anan Creek, a salmon spawning river. We were seeing the final run of the summer, that of the chum or dog salmon. Under the platform was a photo blind, where we could get closer to the creek.

A Lot of Butchering Just for the Eggs
The location of the platform was a cascade of 8-foot waterfalls, where black bears fish in the morning and grizzlies in the afternoon. The bears had their favorite feeding spots, usually between two rocks where the salmon were channeled on their way up or back down the creek. It was toward the end of the run, so the bears were pretty well fed and round. We watched one bear pick up one salmon after another. He nibbled on the salmon's belly; if it was a female, he ate the eggs (caviar) and left the rest of the carcass; if there were no eggs, he just dropped the carcass and went back fishing (he was not interested in sperm sacs)!
Cub of the Year - "I am just waiting here on this rock until mother
 has caught another salmon."
One cub sat between two rocks as she'd seen her mother do. We watched the mother catch salmon to share with her cub; then she caught one last fish but dropped it. The cub seemed to want to eat it but mother just walked away, so the cub followed and left the fish behind for the crows to eat.

Mother Black Bear at the Favorite Fishing Hole,
while another Bear Waits his Turn in the Cave
Another bear was in a cave behind a mother. At first, we thought it was her cub. However, after she caught a fish, she walked toward the forest and her cub emerged. Then the bear peered cautiously out of the cave. We saw that he had a recent wound on the snout, which explained his caution. We were surprised at how big he was, as he squeezed himself out of his cave. When he caught a fish, he retreated back into the cave. Obviously, he felt safe from attack from larger bears.

Turning over between Naps in the Tree
When we emerged from the photo blind, a man pointed to a tree -- a bear was asleep in the branches, about 20 feet off the ground! Then we saw another bear climb a tree and fall asleep using a fork in the branches as a pillow!!

After about 3 hours, we decided to go back to the boat for lunch -- no food was allowed in the park. The wind had come up to 20 knots. Raven Song had swung around into just 21 feet of water, 16 feet of which was tide! We would have liked to return to the platform but we decided we'd had a good experience and did not want to risk leaving the boat alone under the circumstances, so we left. We anchored in Santa Ana Bay.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic adventure comments and pictures. we are looking forward to see you in Smelt Bay. Liz and Anders