North Coast Trial, Vancouver Island

Swedish Grey Wolf

A surprising meeting. It is April and most of us nature photographers in the region are focused on the unlikely invasion of great grey owls this year. This evening was no different when three of us were there waiting for some action.


At a far distance we suddenly saw a "fox" hunting voles in the long grass, we thought. But it looked strange. When viewed in the binoculars, the panic came. WOLF! Quickly but still too slow I changed lens from my 300/2,8 action lens to "big Berta" (800 mm). The wolf had moved up to the edge of a forest and posed there for some photo. He was very alert of the surroundings, sniffing, nervously jumping and running some meters with his tail between his legs. Everything pointed to that this lonely wolf was a young one, a youngster from last year's litter.


Just minutes after he ran into the woods, a roe deer came out and disappeared where the wolf left. The deer barked a couple of times, perhaps when he smelled the scent of the wolf. Not long after this, two moose came over the field and swamp, right into the "wolf spot" with, from what you could see, no reaction at all. What an evening!


I have mentioned the greatness of collecting memories and experiences before, and even though the photos this evening were not the best, most importantly, the experience clearly was.

At Black Grouse lek

Just before Eastern I aimed to put up my hide on my old black grouse lek place at a remote moor. But this year the roads were worse than ever, so it was hard to get there. The shortest way now was from another direction. A new route for me.

I crossed new interesting moors. Particularly one with a very big picturesque big rock in the middle of it, looked promising. Both around and on the rock there were some of those typically slow grown moor pines, giving it a magical touch. Could this be a replacement for my old place? When I walked around I found a spot with a lot of footprints from black grouse. I had to try it, so I put up my long sleeping hide (www.wildlifewatchingsupplies.co.uk) in a place, strategically close to the hot spot, with the morning sun on my back.

 

Two days later, in sunny afternoon light, I once again walked the two kilometres to the hide. The ground was half frozen, partly snowy, partly bare. The walk was strenuous. Particularly as my backpack was super heavy, filled with necessities for a cold night under the stars and my too much of heavy camera gear. The afternoon/evening lek was unfortunately partly destroyed by my presence and my preparation for the night. Very surprising, a boreal owl joined me during my last cup of tee just before bedtime. Five a' clock and still dark, I woke up of the sound of wings. Not one wing, a lot of wings was passing just meters away above my hide canvas. Then came the sound, a hard-to-explain sound from more than 20 playing black grouse males (I counted twenty in front of my hide opening!). It was like an orchestra coming to a crescendo. Fore sure it was worth the uncomfortable sleep and the strenuous walk to have this experience. Some not so bad photos made it even more memorable. Can it be better? Experiences and memories are what life is all about, isn't it?

Capercaillie - the lek season is approaching

This was a lonely close to mad capercaillie, who played his lek game by himself. He let me come closer to him than what this magic species usually accept, without use of a hide.

 

For those of you that not are familiar with these wood-hens, I can tell that the birds are neither rare nor common in Sweden today. They are very unevenly distributed, both geographically in the terrain and seasonally. In winter time, for example, the capercaillie prefers and need access to older pines. My experience is that it does not need to be large dense pine forests as they in many cases seems to prefer a mixed tree population and particularly older pine trees in half-open areas and in the border zone to moors.

 

In summer time and early autumn, the hens particularly, will be found close to more wet areas where they also nest. The nest itself is not made in the wet, but on drier ground and very frequently in a clearing close to the boundary zone in some "berry" rich area. If these areas have a lot of blueberry sprigs it is an ideal spot. The chickens are, in its first weeks, dependent of small larvae's thriving in the blueberry sprigs.

 

Northern Sweden with its taiga forest has a considerable better population than the most south parts of our country.

 

The future of our capercaillie population is heavily debated. Even though the population has been stable for some years with ups and downs, many facts point to that modern foresting not is favouring the capercaillie, particularly.

 

A look into my crystal ball tells me that the future will show weaker populations of our biggest wood hen as the last pristine lands, i.e., forests on mountain tops and zones around creeks, lakes, moors and wet lands, are cut down in the hunt of our forests last old growth trees. Furthermore, it seems that something in our forestry is very unfavourable for the blueberries, which has a considerable importance of the capercaillie chicken's survival as well as many other forest species.  Hope I am wrong as this bird is an icon of true wilderness and life in an otherwise harsh environment.

Great Grey Owl

Who can see and experiencing a hunting great grey owl without getting magically attached? It is an icon bird like the snowy owl, the golden eagle, the capercaillie and not to forget the Siberian jay. Like the later, the great grey is quite often unafraid of humans. Trust it is called, a peculiarity very rare I today's society. Sometimes to the degree that it will pose and hunt just meters away from where you are standing. A bird in this size, completely silent, just meters away is a great experience even for a non nature photographer.

 

After years and years with very few sightings of this fantastic owl in my home area, something happened at end of March this year. Report of sightings are suddenly coming from all over Sweden, including my "back-yard". In an area close to Falun, among swampy meadows two to four great greys' have been hunting for some time now (still are 2012, April 6). From where have they come? Many skilled ornithologists think they are migration birds coming from Russia. Perhaps!

 

Nevertheless, I just hope that some will stay and nest. If not this year, perhaps next year. Hopefully they will use one of all my nesting platforms I have put up over the years.

Along a little creek

Not very far from my home, at the edge of a wolf territory in the area, I have found this nice little spot in the otherwise very hard forestried land. Behind my back and over a distance of several kilometers, big machines constanly fell all older trees and making big clearings. Sadly, it seems impossible to change the logging companies for the better to show a less aggresive and careless attitude in their buisness, than what most of them have today.  

But still, what is left along the creek, is a small breathing hole and I spend some time here every week hoping for the impossible to happend - to have a wolf on one of the stones in the creek. 

Earlier this autoumn there was an "intruder" here with teeth sharp as "Swedish steel". Three times the lard that I had put up two meter high in a tree, was stolen. Some creature had twice bitten off a rope and once a soft steel thread.  The only animal I can think of is the lynx. If so, I really hope he comes back. Last time I saw one in this area was around four years ago.

The water is clear, unusual clear to be in this area characteristic for its humus rich lakes and streams. In places it reminds me (a bit) of a great-bear-rainforest-creeks. And that's a quality comparasion!

I have said it before, squirrels are a very interesting animal to follow and a good photo object, particularly when the sought after big predators are missing. The later more or less just a dream, but sometimes dreams come true.

This squirrel was one of two that fighted to rule over the feeding station.

Here is a photo, a macro shot, of the "fruits" of some moss, which I don't know the name of. A very pleasing picture. 

This bird you can call the "upside down" bird as it never walks upwards a stem. Its real name is Nuthatch ("Nötväcka"; Sitta europea). Almost every nut feeding station has, of some reason, no more than one or two of this bird as frequent guest at the table. It is a reflexion I have done and I have no idea way. Probable something territorial. 

The grey-headed woodpecker  ("Gråspett; Picus canus) is always a high score object to photograph. The bird has increased in numbers over the last years due to some small positive changes in the forestry industri (but still there is too less oldgrown forests left unlogged to be good for the whole eco system). Nowadays they leave all dead trees and some bigger soft trees like aspen, which is really good. This is not a big sacrifice for the forest companies, but it show how much you can gain with just a little humbleness in the managment of the woods.

A blue tit on a dry branch close to my feeding station. 

Beginning of October and still an abundance of lemmings

Autumn is over. It is the first day of October and the mountains would have been white at this date. It should have been winter up here now. But no snow is to be seen anyhere, except some small white dots on a distant otherwise brown-greenish hill. At a closer look, those spots are moving. They are jumping around together with some darker spots.
It is the arctic fox puppies that still are close to the den. The puppies which earlier were so nicely cream-brown coloured, have now started to turn into their white winter coat. Perfect in winter time, but a disaster in snow-free surrounding.
I am thinking of the golden eagle that flew over the den last time I was up here and which caused panic in the litter. Is this a cause of global warming?

They have now grown a lot since my last visit a month earlier and all of them have eaten themselves fat on lemmings. They are big, strong and healthy, but even so they are still an easy target for the big eagle. And now they are as easily spotted and hunted as the white hare, when away from the den. But, what hurt one is the gain of another. His blue-black furred sister will at this time, perhaps, have the benefit over him, as long as it lasts.

Black and white that live happily side by side. It is like a metaphor of an ideal human society.

Above he starts his hunt of a lemming. His concentration is total and the last jump and strike i perfect. This youngster have learned his lesson well. A real opportunist, a surviver with good genes it seems.

This late in the season all colours are always gone. This year it never was any really intense colour play at all over the mountains. The surrounding was dominated by brownish and very surprisingly, there were still green grass to be seen.

 

To find a nice and soft camping ground is not hard in this area.

 

The photo to the right is a tone mapped HD photography.

The lemmings, very surprisingly, were still in plentiful numbers and just as mean as always. 

 

As soon as you come closer than, say 5 meters, they just scream (of fear?), "Come and eat me!". Can this really be an evolutionary advantage?

Nature is not always easy to understand for a human being.

In the mushroom forest

This is a rare mushroom not seen by many. It is a Hericium coralloides or "koralltaggsvamp" in swedish. It is red-listed and is a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

It only grow on rotten soft woods (spruce, pine,...).

I photographed this green moss on the mountain "Kolarboberget" west of Falun. This mountain is divided by a number of small swampy "valleys" surrounded by old grown forest. The area is a small treasure that have been protected voluntarily by its owner, the forestry company Stora Enzo.  Thanks Stora!

Above the wet valleys, on the flat rock area, pine dominates over spruce. On the rocks, richly coloured lichen grow.

More mushrooms of a kind I don't know at the moment.

Autumn gold! The yellow chantarelle.

 

My feeling is that this delicious and sought after mushroom has generally been much more common over the last years. It is nowadays easy to pick ten, fifteen, liters on a tour. Sometimes much, much more.

More than just mushroom to see - there's insects too

Scandinavia's arctic fox - more threatened than the wolf

A good year for Sweden's Arctic Fox

Scandinavia's most endangered mammal, the arctic fox (Alopex lagopus), has had an extremely good year (2011). It is perhaps the best year in 50 – 100 years. Their basic food source the lemmings, are this year found in numbers rarely seen. It is a lemming year well above a "normal" lemming year. When this happens, there is an inexhaustible wealth of food in the mountains. The ptarmigan increase in number due to less predation, birds of prey are more successful in their breeding and the foxes can easily feed their puppies.

 

The litters have been huge in size this year. I counted to 12 youngsters at this particular den, when I visited it in September.

But the wealth will soon go away. Winter time is approaching rapidly and this is the most critical time for a young arctic fox. Perhaps 80 % will die due to starvation the first winter.

 

If the coming winter can produce enough to eat for them, there is a chance that they can increase in numbers over the "critical level" and make it possible for them to spread out, far out, into other areas to establish new territories. However, as so much here, everything is dependent on repeatedly occurring lemming peaks.

 

After some harsh and snow-deep years with favourable conditions for the lemmings we are now hopefully back in balance with more regular rodent oscillations, in cycles of four, five years, after a long period with disturbances in these.

To wish for even more, it would be extremely good with more carcasses in the mountains, - leftovers from the big predators. To achieve this we need more of them in the mountains. But this needs perhaps an impossible change of attitude amongst people. Even a very small acceptance would be a highly appreciated benefit for our arctic foxes, I think. But with "our" narrow minded view of these animals it is just a dream, though.

 

Experience from Yellowstone shows, very clearly, how important predators are for the diversity in an ecosystem. After the introduction of wolves there, the food supply for all scavengers was more stable and more equally distributed over the seasons. Due to this, lower predators increased in number and the populations of both predators and prey were healthier. It benfited the diversity of the whole ecosystem there.

An eye in Sapmi land

The name Sapmi is what our native, first nation people call "their" land. A sparsely populated area that stretches 1500 km along Sweden's mountain range. Some areas are true wilderness, while others show signs of both human activity and particularly, very palpable, signs of free running herds of reindeer. Some herds are large, really large. Herds with many hundred animals are not uncommon today.

All this started about 400 hundred years ago when the Swedish authorities increased taxes to finance the expensive wars they fought on the continent (Europe), at that time. This forced the Sami people (among other people) to be more effective in their trade. Bigger herds with free running reindeer was the answer to this, in contrast to the small well controlled herds they had before. And since then, reindeer herds have increased in size and is now an "industry" following this "tradition". To control these amounts of free-running animals they have to be motorized. Everything from snowmobiles to helicopters are used. Without it, it is impossible.

 

The profound negative impact and damage these activities do has to be considered in a larger perspective. Mountains are heavily grazed. Sensitive areas are down trodden. Predators are persecuted as they bring trouble and death to the herds.

 

Due to this overuse of our mountain terrain, voices are now raised and are now questioning this business. Above all, as a cultural activity on one side and a subsidized business on the other.

Can it really be ethical correct to let culture totally rule over nature ? Will we subsidize a business that does such impact and not at all accept predators?

Mountain life is peaceful. There is time for rest, reflection and planning. In this environment the batteries recharge fast. At this particular place, the only "disturbance" was the warning call from the short-eared owl (asio flammeus) couple nesting close by. 

To hear this sound over the mountain plains makes you feel free in the same way as at the coast. A sense of infinity and eternity.

 

 

 

Sometimes the peace is disturbed by a motorized reindeer shepherd, but as often is the noise coming from helicopters taking out tourists and fishermen on activities. Also other transport activity occur. But even if human disturbance up here are small compared to the noise in a modern city, it is irritating. Noise disturbance is relative to the situation,  I think. 

The use of helicopters for herding the reindeer is without doubt very disturbing and also clearly unethical, but also understandable from the herders point of view.

This short-eared owl was one of five owls that I saw during my visit to this place. So many owl in such a small area occurs only in lemming years. This owl was my follower on my three day tour here. Every time I moved it made a tour over my head and told me in his way, "I know where you are".

Here a lemming has come out of its safe hole. The time the lemming is on free unsheltered ground is surprisingly short, so to be an owl feeding on lemmings can't be an easy life. Some lemmings are fierce, close to mean.

I wonder if the owl was curious, territorial or if the area close to my tent just was a good hunting ground. Whatever, it is always nice with animals and birds that have lost some of the fear of humans. Perhaps there is even a bit of trust which has developed, in this owl.

One day when I walked the plain, the flat mountain moor, I was suddenly attacked in a more agressive way by the owl than before. The alarm call was more distinct. 

 

Just in front of me, the adult bird started a distracting behaviour, almost a theatrical show playing I-can-not-fly. Immediately I understood that I was very close to the youngsters. I looked around and only feet away, I saw this young owl. Not yet capable of flight, it just squated.

 

Knowing where it was, it was clearly seen, but without all the signals it would have been almost impossible to find it. This was to some degree a happening by chance and this photo among others was the result.

A close-up of a young short-eared owl showing its distinct beak and its magical very bright yellow eye. Owls are fantastic!

 

After being a photo model for five minutes, I thanked it for its patience and left it alone and undisturbed again.

June and the beginning of July is a marvelous time in the mountains. The bird-life is in splendour and many different species can be seen.

One bird that no one can miss is the golden plover (pluvialis apricaria). In Swedish "ljungpipare". Its alarm call is as characteristic as its habit of notoriously following or "guiding-out" the intruder from its territory. This makes them to the mountain hikers friends.

Its timeless call has something eternal and infinite about it, that brings to mind a loon call over a foggy lake. It breaths wilderness.

This is another wader bird breeding on swampy flat land above the tree line. It is the dunlin bird (caldris alpina). The Swedish name is "Kärrsnäppa".

This red-legged wader is unmistakable when standing on a small tuft. No hiker will miss this one. It is a common redshank (tringa totanus). With its red very bright shining legs it is easy to understand the name. The Swedish name for this bird is "rödbena", meaning red legs. 

This is a red-necked phalarope (phalaropus lobatus) or "smalnäbbad simsnäppa" as it is named in Swedish. This bird, which behaves differently from other waders, likes small pond like waters in moors or in open mountain areas. It feeds on mosquito larvae and other small insects that sometimes are whirled up by its so characteristic  "merry-go-around" behavior. This behaviour has been shown numerous times in television documentaries and this is why people in general remember this bird at all.

Why go to Africa to enjoy tropical birds? Visit the Swedish mountains and there are some to be seen like this bluethroat (luscinia svecia), "blåhake" in Swedish, which are quite impressive in their colours.

 

Actually, this birds winter home is northern Africa and south Asia. 

Pattern

With a macro lens on the camera new worlds are to be discovered. I love it! To come close to objects, whatever it is, opens up new views, shapes and patterns, unknown to the unschooled eye. 

These two photos are close-ups of lichen growing on a stone close to my tent. To a specialist in the field, this is of course very clearly is a lichen, but to all other this could be anything from bacteria to atoms. It is just the imagination that limits the interpretation. That's why I like macro shots and close-ups so much. It stimulates the mind.

Here is a macro shot of a layered stone, a shist stone (shale). 

Above a still life of a trailing azalea (azalea procumbens) or "krypljung" in Swedish..

 

Here, the same species but in a more abstract way. Just a point in focus to lock the eye. The rest are wage colours and shapes for the imagination.

This is a more classical shot of the same azalea. It is very different and appealing in another way.

With a wise choice of route, the travelling can be as rewarding as the goal itself. My choice of route home from "Härjedalen" (swe: county), was a small gravelled road between the main roads. This was not the fastest way, but shorter and a lot more interesting regarding wildlife than the other. This bright evening in late June, I saw this pretty impressive moose. It was grazing at the edge of an old meadow, close to an abandoned, old farmers summer settlement (tranchumance booths/shielings).  

These old abandoned houses, farmer land and meadows givesa very characteristic and nice touch to these rural areas. It seems that time has stopped.

The red squirrel (sciurus vulgaris) is neither rare nor a very appreciated animal in Sweden, even though it occurs in many children's stories. Unfortunately, rareness has too much impact of how we see animals, plants,.....

Not so long ago, in the middle of the last century, it was hunted extensively for its grey winter coat, but today the hunt is more or less negligible. Even so, it is close to rare to see a squirrel far out in the forest, away from human settlement. If this is due to the former excessive hunt, new ways of managing the forest or some other factor, is unclear to me.  When I run into a "wild" one, like the one on this photo, I usually stop to try to take a photo both for its appealing look and for the often nice, natural surroundings. I think the ones seen far out in the forest seems to be both stronger and more beautiful than the ones you see close to human settlements. Perhaps my imagination, but that's how I feel about it.

Cute and hated! Like the wolf but to a less degree the fox is a provocative animal. Some want it eliminated as it is a rival of the game, other sees it as a cute harmless predator that is a part of the eco system. There is possibly so, that a restricted hunt are needed in certain areas for some reason, but to have competition to shot as many as possible, as recently was announced in a hunting magazine, is for me far above what is ethically acceptable today. It reminded me of a hunter that said, "killing is fun, we have to tell ....."! For me he is not a hunter, he is a butcher. Respect and humbleness to all life, should be the leading star for all wildlife activities, hunters and fisher men included.

A hunter's dream? This roe deer was in extraordinary good shape and size compared to what usually is seen. I met it, perhaps remarkable, in one of, if not the most controversial wolf territory in one of middle Sweden's great forests, when it followed a hind in heat.

Svalbard 78° North

600 kg of strength

The world is full of fantastic places. Africa's plains, Australia's reefs, BC's tempered rainforest and not to forget Scandinavia's mountain areas. But the last adventure I had in April 2011,  a tour to Svalbard, the arctic island just 12 ° south of the north pole, was something well over the average tour. As a Swede living in a country with snowy winters, Svalbard shouldn't be to different and to exciting, but it was. It was just fabulous.  I think I was infected by the nasty arctic germ! 

The whole expedition concept made by company EcoWatch (www.ecowatch.se) was  a great success. And together with great guides and great people in the group, the tour of course was extraordinary.

 

As can be seen below, we had some fantastic encounters and saw some fantastic landscape scenes. But still, this was just a slight glimpse into the landscape behind the frozen arctic door!

Ptarmigan is, I think, the only land-based bird that survive the winter month on Svalbard. It is hard to understand how well adapted this bird is, "the maid of the mountains". Perfect camouflaged in a dress more delicate than most of the tropics paradise birds.

My wood land oasis - Svartnäs

Siberian Jay

August tour to northern Norway and "Fugleöya"

Far up in Norway is a prestine coastal area called Helgeland, which has as many islands as the mainland has habitants. This area is both extremely beautiful and sparsley commercialized. It is a genuine area like few other, which in my opinion makes it a perfect place for a week of relaxation, some fishing and for photographic adventures above the usual. 

This year I went to one of the pearls up there -"Fugleöya".  At sea level with shelter from the almost 800 meters high gargantuan cliff, lies an old fishing village of some 20 houses, but nowadays without any permanent residents. And just next to the village, a shell-white almost tropical beach spreads out. Being that close to the stone wall, it is very protected and has its own gale free climate. Actually there are several more of these "perfect" beaches close by; they are smaller than the main beach, but what they lose in size they gain in loveliness.

The journey up there is long (1200 km), very long, from my home and can be tiring and boring if not stopping at some interesting spots. Normally I take the opportunity to stop at some new location along the way. Either as a long coffee break or as a sleep-over place.  

However, this year I just had not the time. Tiring, yes, but if you go slowly there are a lot to see along the road and sometimes, if you can take the time for small stops, there will be a lot of photo opportunities during the drive.

That the northern parts of Sweden has had a rodent year 2010, was shown very clearly on this tour. On my way there and back, I saw at least 25-30 foxes jumping over the road or trotting aside it. I even saw a pine marten crossing, which is not an everyday encounter.

Most of the foxes were of course youngsters. Very inexperienced in hunting and than taking the easy but dangerous way to forage -the road. And due to this a lot of them end up in front of a car. A little more awareness among the drivers would not be wrong! Not just for the animal tragedies but as much for the car drivers and passengers. Especially if hitting one of our bigger animals.

Road kill

Well at the coast and before entering the boat to Fugleöya, I tented a night at one of the most wonderful beaches you can find.  I call it "otter beach" due to the close otter encounter I had there a couple of years ago. Some of the otter photos shown in my album are from this place.

 

Here I have put up my tent on the cliffs beside the sandy beach.

 

Late evenings and bright summer nights at this beach is just magical. It seems that the sun rays when filtered by air above Lofoten´s high cliffs, its spectrum changes; the light reflected from "otter beach's" surrounding cliffs is magical; the colours has an un-natural warm and pleasing shine. 

What can be better than sitting on the cliffs having a nice bear and wait for something to happen or just to relax in silence.

Walking around the beach with the camera and looking for motifs is almost like childhood when exploring beaches, looking for crabs, shells and digging for sand orms. To keep this explorer lust, I think is good for your mental health as well as for holding your creativity alive.

Every time when I see those green tufts of silene acaulis, that grows in hard arid environment, like a beach or on an Icelandic lava field, I get astonished of its ability to grow under such conditions.

Nevertheless, it is nice to see these small colour spots in the otherwise very arid and colourless sourrounding.

Water pattern in sand

Here a small creek has dug a zig-zag pattern in the sandy beach on its way through the sea. Slowly the water move small sand particles into new positions, through its way to the sea; old patterns are changed into new forms in an never ending process. 

For artistic compositions this is a gold mine.

To pronounce the structure in this photo even more, I have converted it into black & white.

Colour photos dominate the photography, particularly the natur photography, but in some cases black & white can enhance contrasts, structures and shapes in a way that is hard to achieve with colour photos and by that creates a deeper impact on the veiwer.

Hope you agree!

The beach seen from the cliffs, from where my tent is put up. Here in magical late evening light.

The climate here can be hard for plants. They have to withstand high wind forces and heavy rain. The temperature on the other hand is not so extreme due to the gulf current. This has the effect that areas with shelter from the hardest winds and with heat keeping mountain close, have a microclimate with growing conditions far above what normally is possible on this latitude.  

This can also be understood from all the archeological findings that have been found in the region, especially on the islands. Some of them are dated back to the last ice age, i.e. 10 000 years, Pretty amazing, isn´t it? 

Fugleöya

Fugleöya from south, from the bird reserve.

"Fugleöyas" beautiful main beach. In its meter high surf I every day had my washing sojourn; cold yes, but refreshing when finished.

Here the beach with the main "climbing" cliff to the left and just to right, the trail to the puffin valley.  Not an easy way up, but taking the right one, the left trail, is a bit easier than than the right one who´s last part is so very steep that ropes almost are needed.

I of course ended up on the steep trail. Hard, sweaty and a little dangerous I managed to reach the top without any problems. Well up I was rewarded with an unsuspected fruitfulness. The ground was like a thick madras of down, but in this case it was cloud and crow berries twigs that made up this soft bed.

Hard to tell if this photography is taken in Italy (the Dolomites) or in Norway. This is actually the "main" street in this picturesque village Fugleöya.

The main cliff with a heather tuft in front. Standing beneath it you really feel its impressive size and it is hard to understand that people every year climb this cliff, the entire way to the top. Unrealistic and very impressing!

Everything in this village are maintained in a way that keeps it in its original shape; it's really admirable. Here the nice boat/fishing houses at the small harbor.

To have walk to the eastern beaches take you through some small but nice lush meadows and genuine boat houses. 

Oystercatcher with a worm

The oyster catcher, a characteristic birds at the sea shores and a bird that under no circumstances can be quite. Disturbing? No not really, like the gulls they just contribute to the coastal atmoshpere.

Oyster catcher investigating a stone crack for food

The low islands and the tip of Fugleöya hold a fair number of grey goose. When I was there, they were extremly stressed and did not accept the slightest glimpse of any humans in thier sight fiel, however far they were. Perhaps they felt that the coming goose hunt was just days ahead.

Here a nice specimen of a female common goldeneye  [bucephala clangula] or as we say in Swedish, "knipa". I really like the English word, it describe what your eyes first recognize on this bird.

Even when resting the oyster catcher has an whatching eye; to look out for the great gull; to look out for the patroling white-tailed eagle.

The main beach and the stone beach beneath the cliff.

Cloud berries "meadows"

On this high plateau or table land, 400 hundred meter above the sea, there was a "meadow" of claud berries. Its like, I have never seen before. After the very hard hike up there, especially the one I took, it was a blessing to just laying down on the soft cloud berry carpet. Resting, stretching out, eat some berries and let the strenght return. This is mega recovery of the soul!

A perfect matured claud berry in a size that every berry picker would love. It taste was just superb!

This is a HDR photo and in this case it shows the view pretty realistic.

From far away the cliffs look like being a hars climate for plants to grow at and also for animals to live in. But nothing can be more wrong. Well on the side and up at the top it is really seen how fruitful these areas are. Here a juniper with some berries just turning into blue,

A congreation of a jellyfish in a tidal pool

A reddish light on the cliff caught my eye. It was the shell of a crab that glowed in the late warm evening sun. This one, a common crab; crabs with spikes that looked like ones I never have seen, could also be found here. 

This picture shows the teeth of a dried monkfisk, of a size very rarley seen. It was nailed on the wall on a fishing hut at the pier.

A jellyfish washed up on a sandy beach made a nice still-life photo.

Here another still-life photo. In this case seeweed photographed with the white balance set to tungsten.

Old parts and things from the fishermen are always good object to photograph. Not always the most smashing shots but they say something of how life are or have been in those places.

The "Jesus" cliff The "Jesus" cliff

Middle of summer

It is high summer and the peak in flower splendor is slowly fading away. But still there are some that colorizes forests and meadows. One of the rarest and most elusive ones, the ghost orchid, has its peak period in mid July. This orchid is a saprophyte (swe: skogsfru), so it has no chlorophyll at all for transforming sunlight into energy. Instead it lives in symbiosis with some bacteria and fungus for producing the needed energy from rotten plants and herbs.

This particular orchid has, under a couple of years, eluded me in my hunt to catch a good photo of it. Its elusiveness makes it one of the hardest to found.

This one I found in a nature reserve in my home county "Dalarna". The reserve is not established for this orchid, but for being an old fire area ("lövbränna"), that was created a hundred years ago when the whole forest burned. Fires like this rejuvenates areas otherwise dominated with pine and spruce, so softwoods like birch and aspen can grew up there in higher numbers. Forests like this are very pleasant and picturesque to walk in as they are less dense, have a lot of old burned stumps and have a rich under-vegetation of blue- and lingonberry sprigs.

Here a closer veiw of this odd orchid.

Early high summer, especially after some drizzle,  there are a lot of smell outdoors. For me some of these smells are very closely connect to experiences I have had. Wet green spring leefs - reminds me of pre-summer nights when out fishing trout. The smell of seeweed - reminds me especially of the Norwegan coast where I spend many summers when I was young. The smell of heather and pine I associate with picking of lingon berries. And so on.

Smell is nothing we show a lot of attention to, if not of personal hygien type. It is a passive sense that act as a reminder. But smell has a tremendous impact on us and can only be experienced in reality. So to have photos that also stimulates the smell sense, if at all possible, so we associates it with some experience, is a real challenge. Of course a very personal association, but even so, it would increase the impact that a photo gives.

 

One flower that have a wonderful smell is the in my area not so common orchid, planthera bifolia (swe: nattviol). Here in a close up showing its small but attractive white flowers, with a tropical feeling.

Warm nice summers are always good for butterflies. This has not been perfect in this way and has just occasionally been auspicious for insects like butterflies.

The photo beside shows a baltic grayling (oenesis jutta; swe: tallgräsfjäril) [little strange naming as grayling is a fish for me (swe:Harr)]. Probably not rare but I see this rather big butterfly very seldom in my woods. Not at all my best butterfly shot, but somehow the picture give me a very pleasant feeling which I think comes from the soft and pleasing brownish colours in it.

This cantharis fusca (stor flugbagge), I caught when it was sitting on a rose leaf in my garden. The grey and moistures weather that day, made it a perfect day for macro photography. The light is soft and brings up all details and give nice vivid colours over the whole spetrum. 

He was wallking up and down the rose leafs hunting. Not for leafs and other insects, but for water droplets of the correct size in which he could dip his back-part. Sucking water or what, I can not tell!

To zoom up very close to flower and just concentrate on its small details, open up a new world suprisingly full of colours and interesting patterns.

In this picture I went close into a petal of a poppy.

Days with soft light, i.e. clouds, fog,..., are also the time to explore more abstrac motifs, like this petals of an oxeye daisy.

Tics! I do not think there are anything I hate more than tics, but of course I do not know of every nasty small creature living in the tropics. In my Sweden we are a little bit spoiled regarding dangerous things in nature (and so far also on the streets). We do not have anything to be really afraid of! We have bears that in certain situation can attack and be a threat. We have adders that together with wasps can be life threatening if you are over-sensitive to their poison, but death due to sting or bite are very, very, rare. We have other animals that in very particular situations can be a threat (mouse, wolf, wild boar,...). But despite this extraordinary situations it is SAFE in the woods, except for.....tics!

They are slowly increasing its living range up to the north, unfortunately. And they are becoming a problem and a real threat with its borne diseases. And it is probably Swedens most dangerous animal!

Here a tic is sitting on some fabrics in my garden place. Its nasty "tool" is sitting in between the two "cheeks" or flaps in front.

 

If looking closely, you can see as if its "face" is covered in a diving mask or some stylish sun glasses. They perhaps need some protection when digging into somebodys skin!

 

The summer is not just ugly creeps and macro shots of plants. Late July is the time when the roe deers comes into rut and heat. It is mating season. Testosterone filled bucks that have lost some of thier usal shyness are now hunting goats in heat. At open land areas as forest clearings, moores or on small meadows you can see them in their play. The goat is in control and make up the rules for this game. Still wary, but a little less towards how it usually are, when not mating season.

Here the target for all the effort the buck puts in, in his "follow-the-leader" game. And the reward is this beauty and the possibility to endow his off-spring with his genes.

Summer time

Gyr falcon (Jaktfalk)

Njupeskär

Close to the Norwegan border, in the southern tip the Scandinavian mountain range, is Sweden's highest water fall, Njupeskär located. With its 90 meters, its height is not at all as impressive as other falls around the world. But even so, it is very much worth a visit here. Easy access, easy to moderate trails and a pleasant wood land with prime logs, makes it a great spot for a weekend trip by your self or with the whole family. But also for a serious nature photographer it has a lot to give. Not so much for the falls it self as for the surrounding nature and its wildlife. 

My main interest here are the birds and especially the gyr falcon (swe: Jaktfalk), which also nest on the hill side, close to the water fall. Sibirian jay (swe: Lavskrika)  is also a characteristic bird in the surrounding pine forest. It is especially easy to find in late autumn and during winter, when it regularly fly over the parking area and around the cafe, looking for leftovers from visitors.

This is the the start of the falls. Behind the threashold the water in two steps falls 90 meters. With some cautiousness it is a nice place for viewing the surrounding.

A juvenile gyr falcon training its flying capacity on his nesting cliff. It look like a dangerous thing to do even for a bird!

Here a close up that reveals the massivness and strenght this bird is in possesion of. The gyr falcon is the worlds biggest falcon, with an wing spann up to 135 cm. That is quite a big bird!

Its major prey is grouse and without it, it will not go into breeding and the population will just fade away.

These gin clear mountain streams are always very pleasing for the eye and for photography. Especially, when pouring and trickling over stones, roots and gravel beds. The water than bulges and turns into a magnifying glass showing the secrets beneath its surface. The bended water reflects the sun rays in correspondence with the changing shapes in an never ending process. That is why water is so living and attractive to look at!

A characteristic bird that thrives in clean wood land streams rich of both oxygen and in insects, is "the fly-fishers friend", the dipper (cinclus cinclus). Its main source of food is sedge pupea and larveas which it picks up from stones and sunken tree branches. This is why I call it "the fly-fishers friend", because where there are an aboundance of sedeges there is also a potentially good fly-fishing site. 

To survive it needs access to open water. In winter time when a lot of the small, more calm, streams freeze, it is forced to more turbulent water and to ice-free inlets. Here it can easily been seen diving from the ice-edge, even in the most cold days, when temperature goes below minus 20-30 degree Celsius.

 

Here, in this photo, the result of a sucessful nesting can be seen. There were at least two almost full grown dippers, flying around from stone to stone waitng to be fed with some delightful water creature.

Clear water has always facinated me for some reason. Reflections, colours and patterns that feels attractive in some way.

Above the falls, at the tree line, the area dominates of stones.

The stones are not always grey and boring. In the light of the setting sun they show up colors of pastell. Almost like Van Gogh and his painting of cherry tree branches.

"Fox time"

On a ski tour this winter, we ran into an arctic fox den. It was pure luck! We saw a lot of tracks in the surroundings when we skied around but I did not react until we literally was standing on the den and a cute white fox disappeared down into his hole. This was absolutely not the best way to meet Sweden's and Scandinavia's most endangered mammal. We quietly went away and no harm was done.

When I, the week before midsummer this year, had the opportunity to go on a hiking tour in this area, I just had to make a visit to the den. This time with extreme care and respect compared to how the winter encounter occurred.

There she was together with a youngster from last year, I think. Very well fed and seemed to be in good condition. On her breast you could clearly see that there must be puppies in the den. She was all the time very well aware of my existence and was totally calm during all my ordinary tent activities and also during the photography. I had placed my tent on safe distance, 300-400 meters from the den, on an absolutely perfect little hill filled with soft ground vegetation ("kråkbärsris") with free sight to the "fox-hill". 

Arctic fox

Here mother fox is relaxing and keeping a watching eye around her den and her territory.

In nature photography, a codex of honor is to not disturb the subject, the birds and animals when photographing, as well as not manipulating pictures. The later which sadly are an increasing problem in the hunt for appreciation and glory. To take photos of dens, bird nests and on places where animals giving birthing, should normally be avoided as this is a highly critical period for them and if too disturbed their breeding could end up in failure. These fox den photos, I can assure, are taken with more respect and care than what most visitors to this area take, including photographers. 

To be able to get a close-up as this portrait, I needed both extreme focal length and a high megapixel camera to make it possible for a crop-in like this. 

 

Arctic fox

The arctic fox is for me the very symbol for the Scandinavian mountains. For healthy and living mountains. In Sweden the name "fjällräv", freely translates to "mountain fox", also has the meaning of a person that very much likes to walk in the mountains. An outdoor man! "Fjällräven" is also the brand name for one of  Sweden's oldest and biggest outdoor gear companies. 

Today it is scandinavia's most endangered mammals and its future is hanging on a fragile thread. There are about 100-120 arctic foxes in Scandinavia today, compared to about the double for the more attended wolf. This number is so low that every single individual means a lot for the populations future. The project SEFALO that work with the aim to save arctic fox, have prioritized areas and dens after importance and have build feeding stations at some of those. But, what I understand, they have a shaming low budget which hardly can keep their basic work running. Certainly not without free-working enthusiasts and volunteers. 

I think it is a shame that Sweden (and also oil country Norway) not can afford to give this project a couple of hundred thousand Euro's annually to be running with some hope! 

How would it be to walk around in the Scandinavian mountains knowing that the arctic foxes are gone for ever. That they was extinct just because nobody (very few) cared about them and it was just to "expensive" (0,1 million Euro/year) to save them!

Here it seems that mother fox very brutally try to push away one of her last years youngsters from her den. At least what I think it is. Or if it is the male that's not aloud there when she's giving birth? But to push away the youngsters from last year litter, is the same behavior as many other animals have, like the moose, so they can put focus on the next generation they giving birth to.

This young has more bluish grey in his fur than his mom, a color shift which give them the famous variant known as "blåräv" in Swedish ("blue fox"). The fur from those animals were one of the reason for the widespread and fatal hunting that once was done across our whole mountain chain early last century and that decreased the population from thousands, down to much less than hundred in whole Scandinavia. This is probably the biggest reason why they not are coming back, combined with lack of food the last decades. The "lemming years" are very unpredictable now-days for some unknown reason. To survive they need to be over a certain population number (around thousand individuals some experts claim) due to their very low survival rate as a result from the very extreme habitat they live in. 

Rein deer

A male rein deer portrait. The winter fur is now falling off in patches and making them a little unattractive.

When seen as close as this one, it feels as a very ancient animal. Doesn't it?

Fox

This red fox puppy is one of around seven in the litter I veiwed. They were all playing unhealthy close to a road. To say they are cute is an very unnecessary understatement. As puppies they simply are!

Opposite to the arctic fox, red foxes are extremely adaptive to new environments and are real survivors in most habitats. It has withstood extensive hunting over very long time, in Scandinavia, in Britain and in central Europe, but they have always survived somehow and somewhere.

The red fox is also one of the arctic foxes biggest rivals of territory. Especially in the less extreme areas closer to the tree line. Due to this, licensed hunting of red foxes is done in areas close to arctic fox dens to protect the dens from being taken over. The arctic's can also be killed by the bigger and more powerful red fox.

Nevertheless, I think they should be treated with more respected and less hate, than what they are today. The ethics and moral in hunting applies to these animals as much as to for example moose and roe deer. Actually, all killing should be done with respect and a strong purpose. If not, and we kill by hate or pure fun, we are on a dangerous road and very, very, close for missing the respect even for humans. History has shown this numerous of times!

Strix uralensis

This ural owl or as we call it "slaguggla" (strix uralensis), was one of two adults that was feeding and protecting at least two pretty big juveniles that was spread out in two close-by trees.

Strix uralensis

When seeing this chick, it is not hard to understand that owls had a reputation of having dark sides or being connected to the underground, in folklore. The fly soundless, their juveniles are very much as we imagine trolls and goblins, they can see in darkness, they can hear a vole under a meter of snow,....

It is not surprising that these birds still make impressions on a lot more people than just birding people.

 

Spring and early summer

Western Marsh Harrier

After a very harsh winter, spring started with a, for the season, very warm period and all the snow melted away at a surprising speed. In mid May the weather changed between heavy rainy days with days of plus twenty degree C. The leafless trees turned green in just a couple of days in this natural greenhouse. But due to cold days and nights, some snow and ice could be found in shaded terrain still at the end of May.

When you experience these extremes between warmth and cold, it is hard to make up your mind if this is due to global warning or just an ordinary happening. Some experts mean that extreme weather like this, is a sign, an evidence of the phenomenon global warming.

Nevertheless, nature is alive at the moment!

 

This photo shows a hen capercallie. Sorry to say, but her beauty far excels her male partner. I think, it is remarkable that this bird succeed to combine such beauty with a camouflage that is far better than most to be seen in the woods.

The hens definitely deserve a better status in the nature photographers world!

The mouse population thrives and so do the owls. There are more nesting owls than for many years. One of the most elusive and magically attractive is the great grey owl (strix nebulosa), or as it is named in Swedish, "Lappugglan".  

Four years ago I had a close encounter with nesting great grey owl.  After this, I have walked miles and miles to find another one (in my "home-area"). I was obsessed and almost hypnotized with finding one. I have tried to make the area more attractive by putting up big nesting boxes and platforms, so if the "grey one" shows up another time, there will be potential nesting places in the area, as nesting places in most places are a limiting factor for these magical birds.

 

And then, on the 9th of May, it happened again. I was on the way to the black grouse moor to see if there still was lek there, when a very big bird flew over a clearing and stopped on a high stump. A great grey! I took a long distance unclear shot just for documentation before it disappeared into a nearby swampy copse of trees. I started to walk in his direction and continued up to the big moor, where, the black grouse lek. The great grey could not be seen anywhere.

On my way back I passed this area again. Suddenly I got a strange feeling of someone observing me. I stopped. I put down my tripod and had a look around me. And there, just a breath away in a small dwarfed pine, someone is observing me. Two very intense yellow eyes stare at me. He sits totally calm and his eyes try to tell me something, -"stand still!". I freeze and he turns his head back and locks his eyes onto something. What will happen now? Then, before I had a chance to react, he spread out his impressive 25-30 cm wide and 150 cm long wings and soundlessly landed in the moss. A couple of seconds later he flew up in a nearby tree with his catch. A vole!

Everything went fast now. I changed my position a little to find a free opening. No time for finding a perfect line of sight, but I can manoeuvre into a position a couple of meters away for a decent sight-hole. Not everything is in free sight, but the main parts of the owl are. The camera focuses on target and I let the shutter go. Voilà! 

Not the perfect photo perhaps, but the memories around it are.

How would the spring and summer be without the black birds?

 

It would certainly not be the same chorus in the gardens. Its commonness and beauty combined with its famousness among ordinary people makes this bird particularly special. I could not think of a spring without its sometimes little sad songs comming from its position high up in a tree.

Look close! Isn't this bird as beautiful as its relatives, the paradise birds in the rainforest? I think they are. If we open our eyes, we would see how much we could be proud of in Scandinavia. Our land needs as much protection as the rain forest to unrestricted logging. It is depressing to see how ruthless our forest companies are in their logging.  With another attitude and approach, there wouldn't be any protest and all interest groups would gain on it.

The first spring grass that comes up on the fields, seems to be very tempting for the bears as they come out from the shadow to forage in the days last light. This especially on fields close to the forest.

This is a young bear that during a fourteen day period routinly came out for grassing a couple of hours before sunset.

Swedish Winter

"Time is out of joint"!  No year is like before! 

 

The last winter 2009/2010, in Sweden, was very different and extra ordinary in many ways. It was literally a "wolf winter". The snow came with the cold at ordinary time. But this year the snowing did not stopped as usual after a few occasions. It just snowed and snowed. Almost every week we had another decimeter of snow. And the cold continued for days, for weeks and for months. Even more snow came down during our normally very dry month February and March.

 

But what a pleasant feeling with a real winter. A winter with unlimited skiing and untuched areas everywhere.

Winter seems to be and are a colorless time. But if we intruduce bright colors into it, the whole scene really lift in appearance. The vibrance and intense in the colors really are extraordinary in this season.

 

Here a drinking pause on the trail between the mountains Helags and Sylarna, in the middle of Sweden, during a return day trip from Helags to "Ekorrpasset." With dogs and "skeijt" skies, this 32 km trip was a fast and easy pleasure. 

Here part of the ridge above "Helags" glacier shows through a an opening in the clouds, framed by surrounding mountains. The light was bright, intense and diffuse in a very special way, with shapes and lines. Unfortunately, could not the real magic be caught on photo. The light condition was too extreme.

So, live view and brain recording is still the best equipment to experience our world with!

Winter time is also a time to go abstract with the photography. Formations and shapes, especially those that can be found close to icy waters, are nice subjects that easily turn into art. To chang to black and white can increase this feeling even more.

 

Good close work and macro need time in front of the object, which means you really have to slow down and release your stresses to get a good result. So not just your pictures would be good, you will also find this pleasing for your mind.

 

Winter is a fantastic time!

Inspired of Hans Strand, I experimented with introducing camera shake into the picture. As seen in Hans' very interesting photo of birches, a slight camera shake can give some enormously attractive pictures. They get a "ghosty" feeling!

 

In this Christmas-time photo I used a fairly long shutter time and moved the camera slightly up and down during the exposure. Ghosty?

Evening light at lake Hyn, Dalarna. This is a rather big lake with a very special shape of a star cross. Its almost like a CAD drawing of this shape.

Nevertheless, this area has been and still are in some places a real wilderness, were you could encounter four of our five big ones. Wolf, lynx, eagle, bear and probably also the fifth, the "forest" wolverine, even though it very rarely patrols this region. But, 200, 300 km away there are breeding couples of forest adapted wolverines, so there is a chance a sighting!

The population of capercallie in this area are well above average in this part of Sweden. Every visit up here, I have at least one encounter especially with the big forest hen birds. 

I really hope it can continue in this way. The demand of timber and the eager of short sighted money, makes it hard to leave enough old grown trees for the capercallie to thrive. Particularly the edge zone to swamps and wet areas that are so extremely important to these birds as well as a lot of other animals and birds. 

The willow tit (parus montanus), one of the characteristic birds you can see at winter feeding places in the wood lands. It may look unpretentious, but at a closer look its soft colors from brownish tan to black are very well balanced and appealing. This is one of my absolute favorite small birds.

Remarkable that these small, just 10 gram heavy, birds survive a winter with minus 10 – 25°C. How can they do it? A modern human barely survive these temperatures one night with a down sleeping bag and tent!

This year, under the meter thick layer of cold snow, something very important started to recover. There under this white insulating quilt, the vole and mice populations had perfect conditions for growing. In some eyes a bad thing, but for the ecosystem and its wildlife, the positive impact is tremendous. This abundance of of mice will be easy meals for owls and foxes. And due to this, the predation on game birds like ptarmigan, black grouse and capercallie, will decrease. Also, the owls decide if to breed or not, upon the density of these small ronants.

 

Here a boreal owl (aegolius funereus) or "Pärluggla" as we call it in Sweden, poses for a nice shot. It was eagerly calling even though it was several hours after dawn. A little strange behavior, may be, but when conditions are good and they thrives, they do everything to get a partner and mate.

 

 

Here in whole-length portrait.

This very whitish owl, a short-eared owl (Asio flammeus, swe: "Jorduggla"), is usually a temporary guest in my area. It just following the "snow-line" on its way up to its nesting places in northern Sweden. It is an owl for the open landscapes and can be found in open moor land, in mountain areas and sometimes on clearings in the forets area. This one I caught on my memory card early spring or late winter you can call it, when hunting at a little creek close to a local golf course. 

One of my photographic goals is to catch an "jorduggla" as we name it, when hunting for lemmeln in the treeless flatlands in our Swedish mountains, surrounded by snowy peaks.

Perhaps I will be lucky this year!

Vancouver Island.

Late September this year, I was on a tour to British Columbia, the western-most of Canada’s provinces. A fantastic place that impresses everybody travelling through it. Specifically the coastal regions, like Vancouver Island, with its abundant wild life and rich waters.

Even though wildlife is plentiful in these waters, a good guide definitely will increase your chance tremendously for good views and photo opportunities.

At first it may seem expensive, but taken into account the optimised experience you get, it is worth every penny!

The basis of our tour was a private guided three-day-two-night Zodiac tour through Broughton Archipelago. The archipelago with its many often step islands is interesting not so much for its water life, as for its very special nature. There is plentiful of cedar, pine and spruce, growing right down to the shore line. In-between these trunks, the space is filled up with a meter and a half of under-vegetation, like a very thick carpet. The bushes are so dense that it is almost impossible to penetrate, that is if you are not a grizzly bear. The whole area is much like the Norwegian fjords, but “painted in green” with trees and bushes.

We slowly went around in this beautiful island world with our guide Angela in her open 2x150 hp Zodiac boat. With its speed and small size, it is a most versatile boat, especially for small groups or families. It can extremly fast move between locations and due to its size its easy to manoeuver into position.

Angela who runs the company “Ocean Rose Coastal Adventures in Port McNeill, is one of the most professional guides you can find in the area, with her proficiency and contact net. Even though she can not rule over nature, I’m sure she will always be able work out some extraordinary viewings for you. Book her!

This year she manoeuvred us toward sea lion colonies, humpback whales, seals, eagles and of course bears. Unfortunately, we could not find any Orcas as they had migrated out on the big ocean a little earlier than usual this year, which was a pity.

In one of the deepest inlets, Thompson sound, there is an area protected from logging. Nearby this wild place Rick lives, who is said to be the “last” real trapper in the area. His small hut is just a stone through from a creek full of salmon. And where salmons are, there are bears. You can say he literally lives on a bear track!

This place has a very, very, big potential for private close-by foot-encounters with grizzlies. An amazingly interesting thought, isn’t it? Unfortunately, our few  hours there were not successful due to unforeseen circumstances.

But, next  morning in the neighbouring inlet at Glendale and its estuary, we had an experience of a lifetime, that well compensated for the other day.

There we had a really close encounter with a mother Grizzly teaching her cub to forage for dying salmon. She showed us how surprisingly skilled and gentle she could be with her potentially lethal mouth and teeth. First she very delicately peeled of and ate the nutrient rich skin before going for the rest. It was just amazing seeing them in their behaviour! Their cuteness blazed, but what really made me excited was their behaviour. To follow them and see how, the eager and very concentrated cub, copied everything mom did. I think this was the final lesson in her survival course.

It was an experience of celestial dimensions and an extraordinary occurrence even for this spot!

 

 

 

With their bellies filled up with salmon they moved up on the surrounding estuary for some more grazing, that provided me with some excellent shots. The soft yellow-brownish coloured grass made a perfect match to the bear’s colours. Less harsh light and fewer bad reflections, also helped to bring out colours and details in a pretty good way.

Further down on the page I have put in a few other photos showing a glimpse of Vancouver Island’s potential as a nature paradise with exceptional photo opportunities. But, for how long? Here like in all other reserves around the world the society knocks on the door for wanting another piece.

 

On Vancouver Island it could very clearly be seen how huge the ongoing deforestation is. There are just fragments left of this genuine old-growth and very unique temperate rainforest, that only can be found here and on some other places along America’s west coast.

 

One of the few places here, where you can experience true genuine and unspoiled rain-forest is Raft Cove on the western coast close to Port Hardy. There you can walk on bear tracks among old trees, balancing on huge fallen logs full of lichen, before you enter the wild Pacific’s shore line, with its black lava stone pinnacles and a bay full with contrasting white sand. This is wild life division one! I just hope all this can be managed (protected) in a sustainable way.

 

 

But still, what a fantastic place!

Close encounters with grizzlies are one of the most thrilling experiences you can have, with or without a camera.

 

 

I took these bear photos in Glendale, Knight Inlet, a place well known for its grassing grizzlies. This place, with less big males, is a "safer" place for females with cubs fishing or grassing, than further up streams at the falls, where the big males rules.