Unexpected Visitor (Image heavy)

Discussion in 'Other Animals' started by frdjohns, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. We had an unexpected visitor today. This sow came through with four cubs. The cubs all climbed a large oak tree, and at first mom just hung around keeping an eye on things. It was a dark and rainy day, making it difficult to photograph black bears in shadow. Eventually the rain turned into a torrent and mom joined her young ones in the tree.

    I realize these pics are not the best quality, but as mentioned the weather worked against me. I had the 200-400 with me which is usually a good choice for mammals, but it made it impossible to get all four cubs in the same picture. Towards the end, in the torrential downpour, the bears were soaked, I was soaked, the lens objective was covered in rain and even the mighty D4 lost the ability to autofocus.

    1. Mom moving around
    34549195964_53e29f8f5b_b.jpg Bears-3 by Fred Johns, on Flickr

    2. Cubs in the tree
    34549147444_dcdee7d262_b.jpg Bears-1 by Fred Johns, on Flickr

    3. Just hanging out, waiting on mom.
    35225248192_5315530ecb_b.jpg Bears-2 by Fred Johns, on Flickr

    4. Mom keeping an eye on things.
    35004957520_c7920218c4_b.jpg Bears-5 by Fred Johns, on Flickr

    5. Found a good, comfy spot.
    35262470531_eb108d743f_b.jpg Bears-4 by Fred Johns, on Flickr

    6. Time to join the kiddies.
    35262438031_b3d586ff47_b.jpg Bears-8 by Fred Johns, on Flickr

    7. Enjoying the base of a tree.
    35262460351_8e8a09e7a5_b.jpg Bears-6 by Fred Johns, on Flickr

    8. Still keeping an eye on things.
    34582313443_794ccd1741_b.jpg Bears-7 by Fred Johns, on Flickr

    9. About this time the weather got really bad, and mom joins the young ones in the tree.
    34582291663_00c069d5d3_b.jpg Bears-9 by Fred Johns, on Flickr

    10. Three of the four cubs visible.
    35262421531_1cc8d91d19_b.jpg Bears-10 by Fred Johns, on Flickr

    11. The storm getting to be to much for the D4 autofocus, lens objective covered with water.
    35262411131_12c0d88887_b.jpg Bears-11 by Fred Johns, on Flickr
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
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  2. WOW, awesome shots! But isn't it unusual for a black bear to have 4? I've seen one with 2 but no more.
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  3. crazy


    Feb 5, 2009
    "Timing is everything", and you were in the right place at the right time, Fred. Great captures!
  4. She looks like a good mom! Such a great opportunity for you to get these great shots, Fred!
  5. Nice series--love the rain shots!
  6. #7, EVERYBODY needs a good butt-scratch now and again!

    What an experience. This your back yard? What kind of distance?

    Simply Wow, next time how about you invite me over, eh? We are used to shooting in the rain here in the Great PNW.
  7. Randy


    May 11, 2006
    Wow I bet that was exciting
    The pics look fine
  8. Enjoyed these Fred. Trying to decide if I would want this experience or not. Don't think I know enough about bears to feel comfortable in such a situation.
  9. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    Great set! And good story. You captured the bears - and the weather - just fine! LOL!
  10. Really great set! Thanks for sharing.
  11. Allan


    Apr 21, 2006
    Nashua, NH
    Grest images. It sure must have been exciting to see this. Do you have problems with them though?
  12. Thank you Diane. A female black bear can have up to 5 cubs every two years. 2-3 cubs is average.

    Helps to know the right people as well Don. :) I got a call from a neighbor alerting me to them being in the immediate area.

    It was quite an experience to see them. Beautiful creatures.

    Thanks Nick. I've shot in bad weather before - both rain and snow, but I really struggled this time once the rain came down in torrents. Exposure, focus, everything. You should see how many shots are useless! As the exif shows, my ISO was high and shutter speeds were low, never a good combination.

    Bill, come on over anytime, although I can't guarantee bears (Just don't talk about butt-scratches). This was actually on my neighbor's property. I live in a rural area and many of us own acreage. Distance varied, but far enough away that I felt I could get safely in my truck if she decided I needed to leave. Bears and other wildlife wander through from time to time, although the bears are usually not seen. Based purely on anecdotal evidence, the black bear population in my area seems to increasing quite a bit over the last couple of years.

    Hi Randy. Not as exotic as some of your shooting locations, but yeah it was exhilarating to be close to and watch this family group.
  13. Thanks Brian. Most important thing was not getting between mom and the cubs, or making her feel like her little ones were in any danger. When she started paying attention to me, I would back off. I'm no bear expert by any means, but I used common sense and maintained a healthy distance so as to not stress them.

    Thank you Karen. The rain was really tough. Black bears in the shadow of trees on a dark stormy day - no problems, right? ;)

    Thanks Mitchell.

    Thanks Allan. It was exciting. I don't consider them problems, after all they live here too. But if I don't bring my bird feeders in every night either the bears or the coons will get them. The raccoons empty them, the bears destroy them. You just have to use common sense; don't leave temptation out if you don't want a visit, especially at night (ie. garbage in the open, feeders, suet, etc.) For example, one of my friends is a beekeeper and she has to keep an electric fence around her hives to protect the honey.
  14. SteveK


    Mar 16, 2005
    Nice Fred! A beautiful sequence. In a running race on the south side of Anchorage, a male black bear chased and killed a 16 year old contestant yesterday.
  15. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    YIKES! So sad.

    We have two different couples, very close friends, visiting Alaska this year. Both couples are going as a part of tours. Nonetheless, on should always be on guard in bear country.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
  16. mnp13


    Jul 19, 2010
    Rochester, NY
    I just looked up the story online. How awful.

    Bears are nothing to mess around with. This set of shots is great, and I'm glad you were able to safely capture them! :)
  17. Sad news indeed. Just goes to show that you can never be sure about how a wild animal will react.
  18. Thanks for the comments Michelle.
  19. SteveK


    Mar 16, 2005
    Sorry Fred, I did not mean to hijack your beautiful photos with sad news from our state! I was just shocked when I read it this morning in the local newspaper. I've long thought that it's not a wise idea to have running races in places with brown or black bears. They are predators, and when something runs away it triggers a chase. Problems here usually come from people getting too close to females with young, or from very large, male bears of either species.
  20. No worries Steve. I read the articles and it was so sad, especially with him texting his mom as he ran. Problems here are usually caused by the bears (we have only black bears here) becoming habituated to people and associating us with easily scored food, whether that be bird seed or trash or what-not. That and folks trying to get too close to the cubs because they are so cute...