Tag Archives: Bear

Wildlife Tails: Seward, Alaska

Editors note:  Today we have another post from our roving correspondent MaryKate.  Her report includes some excellent wildlife watching tips and photographs. Enjoy!

In April, I escaped the Florida heat and visited my friends Monette and Jesse in their new home of Seward, Alaska.  This was my third Alaskan adventure with Monette, and while we stayed in one place for the duration of the trip (a rarity for our travels!), I enjoyed the beautiful vast views and wildlife that Seward, Alaska has to offer.

Alaska MoonriseAlaska Moonrise

While in Seward, Monette, Jesse and I went whale watching.  This was my second trip with Kenai Fjords and I’d highly recommend them.  Their boats are comfortable, there’s plenty of room for running around to view wildlife, the crew is very knowledgeable, they serve great snacks and refreshments (wine!), and they had awesome limited-edition Grey Whale Tour 2017 T-Shirts.

Humpback WhaleHumpback Whale

We were lucky enough to see Dall’s Porpoise, Sea Lions, Sea Otters, a Humpback Whale, and the first Gray Whales of the season returning to Seward!  Pacific Gray Whales migrate all the way up from Baja to Alaska every Spring, the longest migration of any mammal – quite remarkable!  You can tell Gray Whales and Humpback Whales apart based on their blow.  While Humpback Whales have a tall blow, Gray Whales have a shorter, thicker heart-shaped blow due to their double blow hole.

Gray Whale

Gray Whale Blow (short and puffy/heart-shaped)

Keep your eyes open when whale watching – constantly scan the horizon back and forth to look for blows.  You don’t want to miss any of these amazing creatures, and it’s really exciting being the first to spot them (as Jesse often does!).

Gray Whale

First Gray Whales of the season!

Once back on shore, we saw some other wildlife friends too, like this Sea Otter – who was anything but shy and really hammed it up for the “otterazzi” of cameras!
Sea Otter

Synchronized Swimmer

And there’s plenty of wildlife on the side of the road.  Like this Bald Eagle couple…Bald Eagle Couple

Bald Eagle Couple

Or this grazing moose…Moose

AlMOOSEt done with this blog post

Finally, I recommend swinging by the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in nearby Girdwood, Alaska – this group is “dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education, and quality animal care” and you can see many residents up close.  The Center takes in orphans and lost babies – this resident Black Bear is Kuma (or Uli?), and is unable to return to the wild:Bear Necessities

Bear Necessities

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go be amazed by wildlife and make some photos!

©2017, MK Rosack and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Shenandoah wildlife

I wrote this on board the Amtrak Auto Train between Lorton, Virgina and Sanford, Florida. Lynn and I were returning from Ohio where we attended the annual  PITCA convention and Virgina where we spent a week in Shenandoah National Park.  We both enjoy riding this train and we’re grateful for the 900 miles of driving that it spares us.

I made a great many photographs on the trip and haven’t gotten through them yet, so I thought I’d post a few wildlife photos now as a teaser for one or more posts to come.

Stop and smell the flowersStop and smell the flowers – The wild deer in Shenandoah are protected and the ones around Big Meadows are very tolerant of people. We saw this faun feeding with its mother in the field outside our room.

It’s exciting to spot and photograph animals in the wild, some more so than others!  I was farther away from this next one than it looks (I used an 800mm equivalent lens).

Shenandoah RattlesnakeShenandoah Rattlesnake – Lynn spotted this and came and got me so I could photograph it.  It was a surprise to see it moving through the grass outside the Big Meadows Lodge. Some folks called the ranger and he “escorted” it away from the cabins.

Lynn is a really excellent bear spotter too.  She saw three and was always the first to notice them.  This one caused a small “bear jam” along Skyline Drive.

Shenandoah Black BearShenandoah Black Bear – This young bear was wandering near the road. It kept foraging while I made a photo from inside the car. Sorry for the motion blur – it was pretty dark back in the trees.

I’ll definitely post more about this trip.  You  can read one earlier post about Shenandoah here:  http://edrosack.com/2015/09/20/vacation-part-2-shenandoah-national-park/

And you can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them.  I’ll also be adding more from our trip in this album on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

North to Alaska, Ch. 1: Intro and Wildlife

Lynn and I have talked for a long time about taking a cruise to Alaska.  Since we’re celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary this year, we finally decided to book on Holland America’s MS Westerdam.  We did this early in the year and it seemed like forever before we departed Seattle on September 6th for Glacier Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria.  We spent some time before boarding with our good friends, the Sullivans who cruised with us in the next stateroom with a shared balcony.

It was our first visit to the US northwest and Alaska, and we saw spectacular things that we’ve never seen before except on TV.  Coming up with words to do justice to what we experienced will be hard.  We came home already talking about plans for our next trip. I hope I’ll be able to share some of the feelings of being there through the photographs I made.  Although far away and expensive, this vacation most definitely qualifies for the “Must do list” .

Instead of a day by day description, I’ll break this up into subjects.  This will help me organize my editing efforts.  I’ll talk first about the wildlife.  We spent quite a bit of time on the balcony and were rewarded on occasion with whale sightings, like this killer whale.

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North Pacific Killer whale from the MS Westerdam; NIKON D90,300 mm,1/320 sec at f / 5.6

We also saw humpback whales and I was grateful that Chuck loaned me his 80 – 400mm lens, since these were quite a distance away – every millimeter helped.

In Juneau, Sully and I went on a “Photo Safari by Land and Sea”, which was a guided whale encounter and glacier trek run by Gastineau Guiding. Our guide  Rick, and boat captain Gary, were both extremely knowledgeable and helpful in finding whales, seals, and sea lions.  Also eagles were quite abundant, feasting on the remains of the salmon run, which was still ongoing although according to locals slower than it had been.  Here’s a few photos:

Breaching humpback whale near Juneau
Breaching humpback; In the full res version, the two white dots in tree to the upper left, behind the whale are bald eagles.; NIKON D90,300 mm,1/1600 sec at f / 5.6

The whale in the first photo is an adult female. Her calf was also with her.  He/she seemed to jump upside down or do barrel rolls most of the time. It’s hard for me to imagine they were not having fun doing this.

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Humpback whale calf breeching; NIKON D90,300 mm,1/1250 sec at f / 5.6

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Humbolt Sea lion and gull watch two male Sea Lions arguing; NIKON D90,300 mm,1/1250 sec at f / 5.6

Rick also took us to Mendenhal Glacier in Juneau, where there were reports of black bear sightings.  Sure enough, as we descended to the lake by the glacier, a bear was seen napping under a bush.  I didn’t get a good photo, but here’s one that Sully made.  The bear had more sense than us.  It was sheltered from the rain taking a nap.  We were out in the rain trying to make pictures of it.  When we got back to the ship, another couple we ate lunch with told us about encountering bears on a different path than the one we took at Mendenhal.  I wonder how common they are?

MS_2009_09_09_0174

Bear in the bushes (photo by Martin Sullivan); Canon EOS 40D,135 mm,1/30 sec at f / 5.6

Clicking on one of the photos above will take you to Flickr, where you can see it in a higher res version. I made many more photos than will fit on a blog page and I’ll post them two different ways.  You can look at them all together as a time ordered single set here on Flickr.  I’ll also post them as galleries on my website, organized by subject:

  • Alaska wildlife photos are here.
  • Alaska glacier photos are here.
  • Alaska other photos are here.

Coming next:  “North to Alaska, Ch. 2: Glaciers.”  I’ll also collect my hints for fellow Alaskan vacation photographers into a single post to follow.

©2009, Ed Rosack and Martin Sullivan. All rights reserved.