Mama Bear sniffing the air. This is not at all a sign of aggression like a lot of people think it is. When watching Bears they will often raise their head and swing it back and forth. What they are doing is trying to pick up your scent. They can tell so much about whether or not you are a threat etc by your scent. The sense of smell is a Bear's strongest sense. They have a sense of smell 2,100 times better than humans!
From Monday-Wednesday this week my dad and I were on a camping trip in Shenandoah National Park. We had an awesome time and saw LOTS of Bears! I hope you enjoy my slideshow!
On Tuesday evening we found my favorite Bear, Gertrude, and her two yearlings. I've known Gertrude since she was three years old and raising her first three cubs. She is completing raising her fourth litter, now. For her first three litters she had three cubs but this fourth litter she is only raising two but she has successfully raised them both! This is the bear that I wrote about in my first book. She is such a special bear.
Piebald Fawn! Last year Denise and I found this unique young female White-tailed Deer fawn with her mom. Thankfully she made it through the winter and we saw her with her mama, and herd, several times this week in the same area of the park!
Last week I stayed with my friends Shenandoah National Park Ranger Denise and Rick Machado and spent every day volunteering in the park where Denise works. Each morning and evening Denise and I explored the park looking for wildlife. We had lots of bird and bear sightings as well as pretty sunsets and some other cool critters! Check out some of the photos I took during a fun week. Thanks so much Denise and Rick!!
A few weeks ago I found my first Bears of 2016, the earliest date I've ever seen Bears. Since then I've made four more trips to Shenandoah National Park, and amazingly, seen Bears every time. Quite a welcome surprise, but definitely a surprise, for this early in the season.
Three of my five bear watching trips this season have been of the same family that I first saw on March 10th. Other sightings have been of different mamas with their yearling cubs, plus a female that was very lethargic on a warm April 1st, I believe she had "cubs-of-the-year" (cubs born this past winter, not "yearlings" like the cubs I've seen already this year, which emerge earlier in the spring) still in a den close to where I saw her.
Through all these sightings I only had my second Bear photo opportunity of the year a few days ago when I found the mama and three yearlings that I first found on April 10th, for my third time this year, and I was able to snap off this photo.
Mama and her three yearlings all looked really good, large for this time of the year with beautiful, healthy coats. This was great to see.
I will be in the park for most of next week and hope to find some more of my Bear Friends, and hopefully get some photos too!
My friend Vic and I saw a large flock of these really awesome, unique finches along the Rockingham Co. VA/Pendleton Co. WV Line at Briery Branch Gap today. These birds are uncommon in Virginia and this is one of (if not the very most) reliable spots in the state of Virginia. We counted 18 today, up to 26 have been seen recently.
The Bears are out in full force now ... my dad and I saw five today. A mama and three yearlings and a single female we know well that was very lethargic and likely had cubs-of-the-year in a nearby den. Won't be long until she and the other moms bring out their newborn cubs. Can't wait to see the LITTLE guys but for now it sure is awesome seeing the medium and big ones.
Family shot! Three yearlings on the left with their healthy mama bear on the right. I first met these three cubs just over 11 months ago in late April, recently after they emerged their winter den. Now all three have survived their first full year and second winter! Mama will kick them out in two months from now and they will start living their lives independently. I got this photo a few weeks after this trip to the mountain, but i wanted to include it here to help tell the story.
This is the other adult female my dad and I saw today. We have known her for several years including two sets of cubs and she is expecting yet another set this year (Bears have cubs every other year). "Cubs of the year" (newborns, not "yearlings" like the young ones in the other two photos) are the last Bears to emerge from their winter dens and their mamas are the second-last bears to emerge (after adult Bears, subadult Bears and mamas with yearlings). Mamas that have Cubs of the year (COYs) go in and out of their den for a week or two before bringing their cubs out. This groggy mama is in that phase now.
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