Harold the Heron

I promised you a story about bears…it’s coming.  First I want to share with you one of the less mammalian experiences that treat our team up at the field station each year.

Almost daily we observe Harold the (Great Blue) Heron, who includes our dock in his territory. Great fish habitat for this piscivore (fish eater).

A couple days ago Doug had a particularly beautiful time with Harold. A local boat – full of new teachers at the community school – was overdue.  And Doug went out for a middle-of-the-night mission with several other boats to locate them. The cold teachers were eventually found, victim of being chartless and GPS-less in this complex island-fiord-mainland labyrinth.

What Doug found upon return warmed him right up.  Basking in the early morning glow was Heron. Doug – ever the photog – grabed his trusty Nikon and this was his choicest image. It’s absolutely stunning. And it’s in our front yard.

OK – the bears. This is cool…

Doug, Collin Reid and I entered a big mainland watershed mid last week. A cold early morning boatride. But by 0700 the first light was hitting the shoreline. We had just anchored the boat and were walking towards a potential bear station site when out of the corner of my eye I noticed movement across the bay. It was about 500 m away but they looked like bears. And a lot of bears.

I cruised back to the boat to grab the binos to confirm.  What resolved through the lens was a very rare sight indeed…

A big momma bear, with a really blond head, and not one..not two….but three 2-year old cubs. All looked very healthy, especially this time of year. This was the first set of triplets I had ever seen (Doug and Collin too I think). Having 3 cubs survive that long in this or any landscape is pretty rare.

I gave Doug my big lens, as he had lugged the tripod. As Collin and I set about setting up the station in the woods off the estuary, Doug photographed this family group. We worked quietly and Doug stayed a healthy distance from momma bear and her three treasures. We could even peek out of the bush every few minutes to see the show unfold.

And just as with wolf pups, it’s the bear cubs that steal the show.  Mucking around in the intertidal muck. Doing a little bit of running and harassing of one another. A couple even got up on their hind legs to practice the gladitorial stance-and-combat they’ll need to master before this horseplay becomes more serious as adults.

Although from far away, Doug got some killer images. I’ll share them with you next time.  For now, please enjoy the Sublime Harold shot.  ctd

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