Each summer for the past eleven years I’ve headed to Lake Clark National Park in Alaska to spend a little time with the Coastal Brown Bears. There are no roads to the area on Cook Inlet where the bears congregate. Weather permitting we take a small “Bush” plane from Anchorage landing on the beach near our lodge. There have been a few times when we’ve had to detour through Homer across the inlet and come in by boat.
Here in the grassy meadows, the forests behind them and the beach spread out in front the bears spend their summers. Sows bring their new cubs out when they are old enough and boars come out looking for mates. Second season cubs and their moms and juveniles return to graze on the grass, eat clams when the tide is out, and fish for salmon when they start running.
I’ve divided this year’s images into four parts to give a better idea of what I have the privilege of experiencing and why I continue to return year after year. This year my dates were in the latter part of June. Too early for the Spring cubs, but we had several second season cubs and their mothers. Part I contains images of these moms and their cubs. Just click on the image to see it enlarged.
The images below show a very unusual family group. This mamma bear adopted an orphaned cub last year. This is extremely rare behavior. When you look at the second image you’ll see that the cubs are very different in size. The larger cub is the adopted one. The two cubs are very playful and are often seen chasing each other and play fighting.
Another bear and her cub as they were heading out to the mud flats created by the receding tide. There they dig for Razor Clams.
Last year I enjoyed photographing this mom and her triplets. Unfortunately, right after I left one of the cubs was killed by a boar. Later in the season another was killed. This is the surviving cub. He’s quite a character. That’s a cap (that he stole) from an outdoor pipe that he’s playing with. When I saw him last year he was always begging his mom to stop and feed him. That hasn’t changed.
Out on the mud flats with his mom this surviving cub is very serious about his clam digging. Although he’s not always successful he does dig lots of very deep holes and every once in awhile gets a clam. Opening clams is also a learned skill.
I will share more bear images in the next post. If you haven’t already, please sign up (at the top of the page) to receive an email notice when new images are posted. I would love to hear from you, and encourage you to leave your comments (below) or to contact me directly through this website. Thanks for your interest in my photography! Cheryl