Friday, June 12, 2015

Red Bluff Bay and Bear

Bear! Another bear! Still more bear! That was Red Bluff Bay on this visit. We were alone in the bay when we arrived, fortunate to have our choice of anchor locations. We headed to our favorite spot, the sheltered cove beyond the waterfall with an unobstructed view of the estuary. Out of sight of the towering waterfall, nonetheless we heard it’s constant thunder roaring in the background while our view included rugged mountain peaks, a wide grassy meadow and river delta and a bear trail along our cove. 

Even before the anchor dropped RL spotted the first grizzly in the estuary. We were barely settled when a sow with two cubs wandered into view, grazing on the lush foliage in the estuary. We jumped into the skiff and headed over for our first brief photo op… brief since the tide was falling and the shallow, rock-strewn shoals present a threat to propellers. As we turned to head back to the big boat, a grizzly appeared directly behind Rhapsody, slowly grazing his way along the shoreline bear trail. Photo op!

In the midst of transferring the images from cameras to computer, another grizzly appeared along the bear trail, less than 200 feet off the stern. Photo op!

Some time later two more bears hustled along the bear trail, the small grizzly in the lead definitely nervous and finally romping away to disappear around the bend near the small stream. That was a lot of amazing bear viewing during the first 3 hours in Red Bluff. Several more bear appeared in the estuary later in the day.

Very few bear made an appearance over the next 24 hours, then in late afternoon on the third day of our stay one large nutmeg-colored grizzly waded up the shallows of the river mouth. He submerged, then spent long minutes pawing his head, especially his eyes. Pesky fly problems perhaps? Three large adults grazed in the estuary for hours... too far away for photos at a tide too low to approach closer. We settled for bear watching with binoculars instead.

The closest, most visible wildlife for much of our stay was the pair of hummingbirds that buzzed everything of color around the boat: flags, humans in red and yellow gear, geraniums in a galley window, etc. Not quite so bold, two pair of Red-throated Loons kept a cautious distance as they circled the boat, sounding their eerie cry as they cruised along.

Timing mattered this week for bear watching; we were so fortunate to arrive when we did! No complaints here, between the two of us we shot over 600 grizzly images. Red Bluff Bay is a breathtakingly beautiful scenic location, but it’s truly special when grizzly bear and sunshine coincide.

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