Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oct 15- 22 2013 A week in the Kootenays

We decided to visit the Kootenays for a week as it has been years since we passed through that country.  
Our base camp is in Nelson.  On a tip from Travis Reid we stopped at Grand Forks on our way down to witness some California Bighorn mating rituals.  This herd here is transplanted, as it is in Kamloops.

We checked into our accommodation in Nelson and the next morning hooked up with Alistair Fraser, a resident of Nelson who is a marvellous photographer with a great love of nature.  Alistair graciously offered to guide us up country where the Kokanee Salmon were spawning.  Our hopes were high for feeding Grizzlies.
  A lady had seen a Grizzly here 1 1/2 hours before we arrived.  It was promising news.
Dian and Alistair .    
This river looked promising for bears.
This is a very picturesque river in the autumn.
We felt fortunate to find a  flock of 6 Wild Turkeys close to Kaslo and then another 20 by Winlaw.

After 2 days of searching for bears we spotted this Black Bear adjacent to spawning channels.
Gibson Lake at Kokanee Provincial Park.  The ice is starting to form.
American Widgeon on Kootenay Lake
American Bald Eagle fishing for spawning Kokanee
He sees something.
Success.  To get these shots Dian and I sat in the car and kept the camera trained on the bird for half an hour in anticipation of some action.
It took us four days to finally get a glimpse of a Grizzly.  We were with Alistair and Derrick Kite who had guided us to some promising locations.  Although it was exciting it was a little anticlimactic  to only get this fleeting shot.
Then on the fifth day I woke Dian at 4 am and said let's give it one more try.  We were in a promising location when we spied this bear on the opposite side of a river bank.  
What a perfect opportunity.  We had about 150-300 feet of 12 inch deep river to separate us.
She was scavenging dead Kokanee Salmon.
I took the teleconverter off the camera as the bear was filling my lens.

Checking under flotsam
Answering that age old question "does a bear does poop in the woods?".  She was distracted by something she either heard or smelled further back in the woods and she eventually sauntered off in that direction.
She was very interested in a piece of wood that already had "puncture marks" on it.
A local photographer told us her name was Apple.  She is about 14 years old and has recently rejected a couple of her cubs to survive on their own.  The cubs had been with her for 3? years.  The scar on her nose identifies her.  We would like to return next year to see if she has a new set of cubs.
The sun sets on Kootenay Lake.  Many thanks to Alistair and his wife Dorothy for their guidance and generous hospitality.   They made a great trip so much better.  Alistair and Derrick Kite were great traveling partners.

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