Tag Archives: mammals

“Survival of the Fittest … Fattest”?

A well fed, big bellied male grizzly bear at Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

So we’ve all heard that ‘the law of the jungle’ is ‘survival of the fittest’, right? Well, that might need a little qualifying, perhaps. Seems that here in Alaska, Survival of the Fattest might work better. This bear isn’t the biggest, most dominant male in Katmai National Park – though he’s certainly well up the list. But … I dare say he’ll enjoy a good winter’s nap, starting in a month or so, and he doesn’t look so ‘fit’ to me. 🙂 Something tells me he won’t wake up hungry – that’s a helluva belly. And one of the miracles of it all is .. no cholesterol problems!



Grizzly Bears in Fall

Grizzly bear, or brown bear, in fall foliage, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Sorry for the delay (again) in posting here. I’ve been busy the last 2 weeks, trying to photograph grizzly bears. I just returned, 24 hours ago, from a trip to Katmai National Park, where I focused on trying to get some grizzly bear photos that were different to what I’d shot in the past. Here’s the first of what hopefully won’t be too many that you get bored with them.

Yes, it’s true – I took some time out to detour away from Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, when I promised myself not to – but the change did me great! One of the things I really wanted to focus on Continue reading

Least Weasel photo, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska

Least Weasel photo, on a rock, Skolai pass, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Here’s one for you while I’m gone – gone off on a secret “end of season” retreat. I am super excited about this trip, but can’t tell you much about it until I return. It should be awesome. Sooooo …

In the meantime, this photo is of a weasel (or ermine), from Skolai Pass. Member of the mustelid family, the Least Weasel is the coolest little critter . imagine a small, sleek ferret on crack. I’ve never tried to photograph an animal where I go so many images of his behind, as he raced off, or even with the animal completely gone .. this guy was SO fast, I barely managed to catch him at all .. the few moments he’d stop, look around, pose, and be gone, in a dash for cover. This photo is about 60% of the full frame version.

This photo was maybe a few hundred yards into our walk, so it was exciting. To be shooting a cool little guy like this within minutes of starting our trip was simply awesome. On the first day of our trip I managed to take my only images of a weasel from the park, my now favorite caribou image I’ve taken in the park, and my favorite image of Mt. Bona. And earlier in the morning we’d had some alpenglow on Mt Blackburn, as well. What a day.

So that’s it for the weasel. He’s running around Skolai Pass chasing voles, shrews and ptarmigan, and maybe the odd ground squirrel. I hope has a great winter, and is around to see again next year. What a treat it was for our group.

I’ll be back early October.



Caribou, Skolai Pass and the University Range, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Woodland Caribou herd, Skolai Pass, the University Range in the background, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Here’s another image from my recent trip to Skolai Pass. This, along with the previous image posted of Mt. Bona and Mt Churchill, was taken on the first day of our arrival in the pass. Pretty nice day, eh?

These caribou are part of the Chisana Herd (pronounced ‘Chushana’) and are, according to legend, the only Woodland Caribou herd in Alaska, and maybe ought be listed on the Endangered Species Act, possibly the strongest environmental legislation in the US. Woodland Caribou are found mostly in Canada (possibly a very small population in Idaho and Washington – often referred to as a separate subspecies, Mountain Caribou), with the great herds of Alaskan caribou, such as the Porcupine Herd, or Central Arctic Herd of the north slope, like the caribou more seen in Denali National Park, being Barren Ground Caribou. Continue reading

Beaver, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

An adult beaver browsing on willow leaves in a pond, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.
Hey Folks,

So this last week I spent on the north side of the park, exploring clouds and rain and drizzle. The glory of fall in Alaska. I found this small beaver  pond, replete with beaver, so I spent a few hours photographing them in their little demesne. The pond was host to a couple of adults, male and female, and their offspring, 3 young kits. It was fascinating to watch them go about their business (mainly eating) for hours on end.

The ole saying ‘busy as a beaver’ could equally hold as ‘hungry as a beaver’; all these critters do is eat, it seems. I watched this male swim to the pond’s shore, clamber out of the water, saunter down the trail, then reappear maybe 10 minutes later with a large willow sapling clenched between his teeth, dragging the branch behind him, as he re-entered the pond, and swam back towards his lodge.

I was super fortunate that he stopped to eat right in front of me, and during the course of his dinner, all of the other beavers came by, at some point, to scrounge a branch or 2 off his sapling. Apparently willow leaves are good eating for a beaver. The ruckus that followed was almost comical, the various assortment of noises being surprisingly diverse.



Grizzly Bear, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska

A grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) on the tundra in Chitistone Pass, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks

I apologize for the long delays in posting here – it’s been busy this summer, with backpacking trips, and I really haven’t taken the photos I was hoping to, either. Either smoke from numerous wildfires, bad timing, or bad weather have made the summer not a great one for me, photographically, so far. Hopefully that’ll change a little as fall approaches.

This is a grizzly bear that I’ve observed in the Skolai Pass the last few years – I saw him as a younger, immature or subadult, in 2007, again last year and this year back in July. Continue reading

More Snowshoe hares

snowshoe hare (Lepus Americanus) on snow, winter, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Here’s a look at a Snowshoe hare (lepus americanus) just as it starts to pelage and change to its summer coat, and below, a look at another hare further along in the process. I like to try to photograph animals in the various stages of their phenology, and also to try some different kinds of compositions – the one below showing a little more of the forest this snowshoe hare lives in, and what they might do this time of year; sit in the morning sun and catch some rays after a long, cold winter. Continue reading