Surprisingly, my small marsh has continued to be a great source of wildlife for me. Initially I worried that the hot weather would dry it out, even before the waterfowl had matured. But I have returned several times to see it thriving, just a little smaller.
I will bring you some of the photos I have taken over the last couple of weeks. But right now, I want to share an adventure I had the other day.
The trail I follow along the marsh is above it and ends where the marsh veers away into scrub and trees. It is quite the dead end. A couple of days ago I spotted a great blue heron and managed to get some shots. Given it was in the reeds, the photos had branches and reeds between me and the heron.. So I decided to go back and see if the heron was still there and if I could get better shots.
I was fortunate to find the heron fairly quickly, standing in a tree. I quickly took some photographs as it sat and watched me…..
Then in an attempt to get a clearer view, still had branches in front of the heron, I tried to sit down. That sent the bird into the air, swooping off toward the end of the marsh. So I followed, watching for it until I reached the end of the path. Along the way I noted some scat filled with pits and seeds, a probable sign of bear activity.
At the end of the trail, I started tracking some coots in the reeds and trees below me, still with an eye to finding the heron. After a few minutes I noted a rustling in the bushes and trees above me. Knowing there is a road up above I ignored the sound. Then it got louder and was quite the pronounced bush whacking. So finally I turned around to find the source and experienced something I’ve always wondered about. Above the trail was a black bear. It was between me and the exit down the trail. It couldn’t have been more than 40 feet from me. And I was fairly certain it hadn’t seen me.
I’ve always wondered what I would do in a situation where there was no barrier between me and a bear – no river or ravine, or car door.
Well, the first thing I did was confirm I had no alternate route out of this situation. Then I cleared my throat loudly and coughed several times, trying to ensure it became aware of my presence without startling it. It was coming down the bluff and stopped, not really looking at me. I then started talking to it in a really calm voice, explaining I had no intention of bothering it and would just stay where I was while it moved on. At the same time I was trying to get it in my camera lens. Unfortunately the lens and teleconverter couldn’t focus on him as he was too close. So then, waiting for him to make up his mind, I took the lens off the camera, removed the teleconverter and replaced the lens, still talking to bear. He turned away and lunged off into the bushes. That really didn’t help me because I needed to know where he had gone before heading back down the trail. So I waited and listened. Then started slowly forward. At that point he appeared again, moving down onto the trail. Picture time.
He then, after staring at me for about a minute, sauntered off down the trail. I didn’t want to follow him in case it caused him to feel threatened, or just bugged, so I waited and then moved forward a bit and peered ahead. That way we probably got about 100 feet ahead. Then he disappeared. But where? A sound below me now told me he was heading down to the marsh, perhaps to get a drink. So I moved forward until I could see him and got a few shots. Again through the reeds but….
It was so neat to see him sitting in the water, obviously cooling off and maybe having a bath. I took some more photos and then headed down the trail, checking over my shoulder the confirm he wasn’t following.
Don’t ask me why, but I did not panic, probably didn’t believe anything bad would happen – dumb perhaps. But what a neat experience!
Just to be on the safe side I probably will change the time of day I go back and will stay away for a few days. I don’t want to pressure bear in his own territory.
And I can now expect emails from family asking me if I’m crazy!