7 Apr 2014

Day 3-4 - Fresh tracks

After a long night in the hides, activities were exchanged for sleep and re-cooperation, this gave me time to work through my raw files, which seems to be an ongoing operation for me, as I always have a backlog of images that I have taken and not reviewed.

Sunday began early with a fresh inch of snow that had fallen overnight, completely transforming the landscape once again. A local Finnish photographer had spent the night in the hides and would be returning for breakfast, where we were eager to hear of what the night had brought.  

He told us that the same bear had returned a total of 4 times throughout the night, twice in the evening, once in the night and the fourth in the early hours of the morning. Despite the bear being spooked once by a patrolling White-Tailed Eagle, he said that he had a great chance to photograph the bear with a light covering of snow on its hide, a image many will never see.

< Due to the fresh snow covering, it was a perfect opportunity to hike down to the hides and check for fresh tracks. I led the German photographer down, passing fresh Arctic Hare tracks on the way. As the cloud cover had been minimal over the night, the temperature was well below freezing and and the trees were covered with a layer of ice crystals, shimmering in the morning light. As we approached the hides we saw a fresh set of tracks, most probably originating from the bear which had passed through just hours before.

The rare combination of recent bear tracks, bright sun and the frosty thin layer of new snow, enabled us to really appreciate the size of this bear. The paw prints were roughly twice the width of my size 12 boots and about a length and a half long. Apart from being a terrifying size, these paws allow the mammal to move more easily on the snow and spreads the weight evenly, this allows the bear to also cover large distances comfortably, a necessity in the winter months as forage is scarce. >