Thursday, February 28, 2013

Polar Bears- Slow 2012; Amazing start to 2013!

The polar bear denning season is upon us again. Last year we had a difficult season. Last year in the first two weeks they only had two sightings of a mom and single cub. When my group got there we saw nothing on the first day and only a momma bear’s head popping out of the den on day two, three and four. We finally had a good photo day on day five. I managed to take about 3000 images of a mom and her two cubs that day. On the next day we saw twins briefly and another set of twins briefly just before dusk on the way home. On the last day we saw a mom come half way out of the den. In eight days we really only had one good photo opportunity, so we made the best of it. The day after we left the mom and triplets came out and they photographed them a couple times over the next two days. Over the next week, there wasn’t so much as another sighting. Needless to say our one good day saved our safari. Some other photographers weren’t so lucky and didn’t even get a glance of a bear and some were so disheartened that they mentioned that they wouldn’t be back. That’s wildlife though, there are no guarantees.

2013 Sightings...
Lets go forward a year. This year there were no sightings on the first day. On the second day they saw twins, day three, twins and a single, day four recorded twins and triplets, day five saw playful twins. The next day triplets again. The following day they saw two sets of twins. So far they have had a better year than all of last year combined and they still have 23 days left in the season!

You never know what nature is going to provide or when to show up. I have another six days before I am out on the tundra this year and am on pins and needles. The conditions are perfect for the bears right now. A balmy -20 degrees Celsius, they have already seen probably eight or nine families and two sets of triplets (odd, in my experience the triplets are normally seen later in the season)…are you thinking what I’m thinking? Is it going to be a short season? Are the conditions for the bears so ideal that they will all have left for the Bay before my group gets to the lodge? Will I see any bears this year? Or is this the year that I get skunked? Or will the sightings continue daily throughout the season providing us with our best polar bear safari yet?

I will continue blogging daily starting March 6th after my first day on the tundra, continuing on to my last day on the 15th.  I'm both nervous and excited about this season. Hopefully I will have some great sightings to report. In the meantime check out my previous safari years at Watchee on my wildlife photography website- Polar Bear Mom and Cubs- 2010 & 2011 and Polar Bear Mom and Cubs- 2012