26 Apr 2014

"The best April in 15 years" - Ari Sääski

Last night was nothing short of spectacular. As the title suggests, Spring this year at Wild Brown Bear has been incredibly active, with Brown Bear, Wolverine and even a Wolf sighting giving visitors photography opportunities to die for. For many guests the images they have made greatly exceeded their expectations, and last night was no different. The night of the 25th/26th April carried this trend forward, and for everyone it was most definitely a night to remember and not one to forget. 

After emerging from hibernation, a steady flow of new characters and personalities have been filling the surrounding wetlands and forest. For the first few weeks only a solitary male seemed bold enough to venture into the open, although recently however, 4-5 others have joined, and are becoming regulars in the hide area.  

The opportunity to photograph multiple bears, all demonstrating unique and personal behaviour, in evening, sunset, moonlit, sunrise and morning mist conditions is something that can take months of tenacity and determination to achieve. Last night 9 photographers, luckily including myself bared witness to just that, a perfect display of nature and wilderness all rolled into one epic 12 hour photography marathon.

As the day transitioned to dusk, the light was magical. The first young individual arrived early at 16:50, and although I was still setting out my equipment, I still managed to take a few frames as the bear waded through the wetland towards me. After a brief exhibition, the bear left and all was quiet on what is left of the winters grasp.
It was a short two hour wait until the wilderness revealed all, in one non-stop 12 hour firework display.
Two large and dominant males pounded the ground just as I was considering jumping into the 'bag' for the night, although the light was poor at this time, I was able to document the dominance of the largest male as he walked proudly around the area 'marking' his territory. The other male then continued to follow, re marking and announcing his disgust. Although out of view and mostly out of light, the confrontation heightened to a few moments of blatant aggression between the pair, which reverberated around the sleeping pines and deep into the valley. I usually prefer a light jazz in the evenings but you get used to it.

The entire experience was breathtaking from start to finish and I have never felt compelled to take more frames in one sitting ever before. Although the conditions are promising as I write this, I opted for a night away from the bears and withdrawn from the wilds. As much a I love it, my back is bent over double, and my left eyeball is still recovering from 12 hours spent jammed against the non-ergonomic viewfinder of my camera. Until tomorrow.