Late Night at Brooks Falls

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After some Hawaiian style chicken teriyaki for dinner, we left the campground at 8pm to check out some more bears--sunset is around 11:45pm.

The first obstacle every time you go out is to cross this bridge...


Bears like to hang out in this water, so anytime there is a bear within 50-yards, the bridge is closed.  And when you're on the bridge, "walk with purpose" is the motto.

Upon arrival, and after I saved a fisherman from being eaten by a bear, the bridge was closed.  No big deal.  It gave us a chance to catch this long-distance view of a momma with her three spring cubs (number three is behind mom).

 


Adorable.  We saw this crew again the next day, but mom was smart enough to keep her cubs a good distance from the annoying tourists at all times.

So at 9pm we had arrived at the upper falls--it closes at 10pm.  There were just a handful of others there at this time, and the viewing was absolutely brilliant.  At one point, we counted 22 bears in sight!  And they were feasting on salmon like we hadn't seen before.

This guy was eating fish non-stop--he had a prime spot in the "jacuzzi" where it's all foamy and the salmon like to hang out before attempting to the leap up the falls.  Check out the sad face on the salmon...

 

A mom and two yearlings then posted up right below the viewing deck.  One of them was quite the momma's boy--constantly snuggling up right on top of him mom.  Adorable, again.

 

The sad part was when a male chased the two cubs up a tree.  But the little guys survived and scurried off with mom.  Hopefully they can stay out of trouble and get some salmon in them to survive the season...

Males can be pretty mean and like to exert their dominance whenever they can.  And it's really interesting to watch this play out.  It is usually really subtle gestures and an occasional growl that will set apart theirs levels of dominance.  More rare, they might swat at each other--we were lucky to catch a 5-second exchange just like this.  Terribly sad was that I didn't have my zoom lens on at the time and couldn't get a close-up.

Two adult males on their hind legs angry is quite the sight...

 

This one is out of focus, but shows how there's sometimes a bully trying to steal what's yours...

 

There are oodles of tripods set up on the deck all looking for the classic "salmon in the mouth" shot.  While I had a tripod and shutter release cable with me, it's much too obsessive for my tastes.  So with low effort, this was the closest I got...


The salmon really do just jump into the bear's mouths, and the bear are quite patient in waiting.  Finally, this shot will give you an idea of how you're out of harm's way while watching all of this...

 

That photo was taken at 10pm--what a night.

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