The research project in Glendale Cove that Mel Clapham is running has captured photos of a new grizzly male. Mel has been able to identify him as a returning male from a couple of years ago since he has a distinctive piece of his nose missing. Nicknamed Diablo by our staff the first time he appeared it will be interesting to see how long he stays in our area. The photos in this blog are of another of our grizzly males with the rather fancy nickname of Pretty Boy. The photos are from one of Mel’s research cameras, we appreciate her sharing them with us.
Grizzly Bear Research in Glendale Cove
Some of you who have visited the lodge in the past three years may have met me during your stay. My name is Melanie Clapham and I have been conducting research out of Knight Inlet Lodge since 2009. My research is looking into how grizzly bears communicate with each other using their sense of smell. This forms the basis of my whole PhD project, of which I am now in my final year. My project is co-funded by Knight Inlet Lodge and the University of Cumbria in the UK. This is where I am based during the winter months, analysing the data I have collected in the previous summer/fall, and writing up my findings. I am now back at the lodge conducting my final field season, and will be here until October. When I am here my days are usually spent searching the estuary for bears, and out in the forest maintaining my trail cameras. These heat and motion-sensitive cameras are the main method of data collection I am using. By placing these cameras facing bear ‘marking trees’ (or ‘rub trees’ as they’re known), I am able to monitor natural scent marking behaviour by different individuals in the population. This way I am also able to assess whether its adult males which seem to be communicating, or adult females, or subadults, and so on. I am also looking at which individuals investigate the scent marks of others, but don’t actually mark on trees themselves. By conducting this data collection between May and October, I can assess how marking behaviour changes during different seasons i.e. the breeding and non-breeding season.
In addition to looking at the social function of scent marking, I have also been documenting the trees which bears mark on. Focusing on what we call ‘traditionally used trees’ which are trees marked on by different bears over many generations, I am looking at whether it is the species, the size, or the location of the tree which makes it favourable to be marked on over others. I believe this is key to explaining the use of trees for scent marking by bears, rather them just been used to relieve an itch. It seems that the selection of these trees is much more structured. So by studying differences in marking behaviour by different age and sex classes, and analysing the trees which bears use to mark on, we are beginning to fit different pieces of the puzzle together in understanding the complexities of chemical communication in grizzly bears.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dean Wyatt and all the staff at Knight Inlet Lodge for their continued support and field assistance throughout this whole project.
University of Cumbria
PAULINE & IAN ANDERSON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 2010.
It was with great excitement that we looked forward to our return visit to Knight Inlet in October last year. Having enjoyed “The Grizzly Bear Adventure” with Titan HiTours 2 years earlier we booked the same tour, this time extending our stay at the lodge by an extra 2 nights – what indulgence!
Knowing what to expect did not detract from our anticipation &, as in 2008, we had a truly wonderful time. It was like going to visit old friends – indeed we were recognised by some of the guides & staff (rather worrying!!).
The weather was very different this time – dull & raining almost every day. Did it matter? Certainly not – we were comfortably togged-up in our orange suits & under cover mostly. The Rainforest Walk was rather wet but, nonetheless, thoroughly enjoyable.
The Whale Watching day trip was excellent – the only one of the 5 days when the sun shone & it was beautifully calm on the Johnstone Straits, thankfully. We saw a number of Humpbacks & several very vocal sealions but the pod of Killer Whales was elusive despite the best efforts of our 3 guides.
The main attraction of the holiday was, of course, the Grizzlies. I could quite happily stay at the viewing stands all day watching the bears while they fished the waters & ate their catch, or just lazed on the banks. Twice we were entertained by a sow & one of her twins rubbing against a tree just a few metres away from us. I almost wore out my camera battery during one episode! The 2 year old “white” cub put in a couple of appearances with its sibling & mother. They never came too close, seeming rather timid, whereas some others were as intent on watching us as we were on watching them.
Our guides were all excellent – very helpful & friendly, knowledgable & multi talented. The evening interpretive talks in the warmth & comfort of the lounge were very interesting & entertaining, & all of the meals & snacks were first class.
Knight Inlet Lodge certainly has our vote for “Top Holiday Destination in the World”. I see previously on the blog that one lucky traveller has visited 3 times – we can’t be outdone & are saving hard for another trip!
Knights Inlet, Sept. 2009 four days that will be etched in my memory forever and when my memory fails, I have my photos to look back on (thanks to Phil and team for returning my camera after I left it behind).
The people you meet. Being an animal person myself I have little time for people. However through the common goal of seeing grizzly bears in the wild we some how magically came to know those strangers sitting across from us at Vancouver airport. In fact we now email one another to share our stories and photos of our great adventure at Knights Inlet.
Day one involved boarding a small plane (I did not realize the planes would get smaller as the trip progressed) in Vancouver and flying to Campbell River. On arrival at Campbell River we were taken to our accommodation. Whilst researching my bear holiday I noted in blogs people were dissatisfied with having to stop over at Campbell River the night prior to continuing onto the bears. Well all I can say is make the most of it, see the museum, watch the tall cruise ships out on the horizon, enjoy the wild weather, which makes that meal at the local eatery all that much better. Then finally walk back to the accommodation, watch a bride get married out on the pier and wonder what was she thinking, wonder how the locals live, take photos of the old Chinese monument, the driftwood and gigantic kelp that lay in the water, enjoy the wild weather and the emotions of anticipation of what lays ahead.
As we arrive at the float plane terminal we see two tiny, small, minute, float planes moored at the jetty. The weather is dark and stormy and we are supposed to get on these things, oh my god, what we do to see grizzly bears in the wild. Anyways it goes to say, they got us there safely.
As we get to the other end we are greeted by a leprechaun of a looking man playing an accordion and two dogs jumping around with excitement as we land. We are quickly debriefed and given the guided tour and then loaded into awaiting tinnies. As we come around the first bend, not more than five minutes from our camp we spot a grizzly and her two cubs. The cameras go wild and the scene is set. We sat and watched in ore for about half hour.
We then moved on to find more bears and wildlife such as eagles. On return to camp we were served a delicious lunch. After lunch we tried to figure out what clothes we were suppose to wear to go up the river to view the scenery. Was it the red suit with the green boots or the blue suit with the red hat hmmm? Any ways I think we got it right in the end as we stayed dry and warm, even after our tour guide tried to drown us under a waterfall.
After our sightseeing tour we returned to camp for a much earned cup of coffee and cake, oh so yummy. Next we boarded and old school bus and were taken down a windy track to the bear lookouts. There was a bit of waiting for the bears to turn up obviously someone failed to let them know we were coming. However while we waited we did get to learn about the tragic life of a salmon. If you ever think your life sucks remember the poor salmon. Just as we were about to leave, a bear decided to grace us with his or her presence. We all watched the bear fish for salmon, shredding them with its large claws. Cameras were going crazy, people were whispering amongst themselves and jostling for a better viewing spot. At this stage a good lens would have come in handy, which sadly we did not have. However those kind strangers from the airport lent us one of their lenses so we could get better photos, thankyou. You think that would be enough for the day. We returned to camp to sit down to a great meal and discuss the days adventures with our fellow bear enthusiasts. Later that night we were entertained with an informative talk on whales. We then returned to our cabin and sat up to midnight talking to our Aussie cabin mates. What a day.
Up bloody early the next morning, I was still tired from the day prior. Following a yummy breakfast, pancakes yum o. How did they know they are my favourite? We headed out to look for more bears. It wasn’t to long a wait and cameras and people once again were in a frenzy. More great photos.
Today we were asked what we wanted to do. We were given the choice of whale watching, kayaking, or bear poo tracking. Well what can I say, bear poo tracking hands down! Where there is bear poo (scat) there are bears. Plus we got to learn about the bear’s habitat, their rubbing trees, their sleepy holes etc. However the highlight of this little tour was seeing how gullible my husband was. Our guide told us that if we licked a slug, not just any little garden slug, it was a big blob of a thing with spots that made your tongue go numb. Your name would go down in history. In other words you got to put you name in a book at the lodge to signify that you were stupid enough to lick a grose slug. Well guess who volunteered? I’m glad they didn’t tell him to run naked through the bush with honey all over him to attract the bears, who knows what would have happened.
We were fed well through out the day and given multiple opportunities to view bears. Later that evening we were provided an in service on the mythology of whales or bears, something like that. On return to our cabin the Aussie house mates had a rip roaring fire, a few yarns were passed around and once again after midnight we retired to bed.
My husband was up at four in the morning suffering from a cold or maybe the slug had shared something more than a numb tongue. He was sitting in the lounge of our cabin when he was given his own private comedy show, presented by the one and only knights inlet otters. He tried to ply me out of bed to watch the antics of the otters, but I wearily mumbled “im tired”, I was exhausted. In the morning he told me of the show that they put on and how they kept setting off the night sensor lights as they would pitter patter across the deck. I now regretted not getting out of bed to see them.
Early to rise once again. As I did with each morning I sat on the front deck of the cabin and just enjoyed the moment and the scenery. However this morning was different, I started to hear gurgling noises coming from behind me, was the cabin sinking? Then I noticed splashes here and there in the water. Finally a little head popped up in front of me. It was a little furry faced otter (not official binomial nomenclature – scientific name). He was checking to see if the coast was clear. He looked at me and I at him, he wasn’t going to risk it. He then with his entourage of otters swam over to the moored tinnies. Somehow the next thing I know they are all in the tinnies rolling around playing like little kittens. Well the dogs wanted in on the game, however the otters are a bit selective of whom they play. I came to this conclusion as the otters hastily exited the tinnies and speared back into the water to return to where ever it was they came. As legend goes they live under the end cabin at Knight Inlet Lodge. Hence apart from the bears those otters were the high light of our holiday and to elusive to be photographed.
After breakfast we did a quick trip up the estuary for some last minute bear viewing. We then reboarded the float plane to return home, people were a lot quieter now. I’m gathering they were doing what I was and reflecting back on what a great holiday it was, and how sad I was to be leaving. Thank you to all of you at Knights Inlet. Tracy Dean and Graham Badke, Queensland, Australia.
Before we left Australia we had no idea what an introduction to Canadian fiord scenery and wild life we were about to experience.
This introduction commenced from day one with the float plane’s picturesque flight from Campbell River through the mountain valleys and across the lakes to the lodge.
We arrived at the well maintained floating Knight Inlet Lodge surrounded by crystal clear water. The Lodge supplied all our requirements for the next four days, serviced by such friendly, competent and knowledgeable staff. The meals were as one would have ordered, plentiful, varied and tasty. There was always a drink ( hot or cold ) and a snack available. The equipment supplied was of the highest standard.
What a super sight as we, “the Monks” awoke in “The Church” to see the snow capped mountain scenery of the cove. The accommodation was spotless and warm with a cozy fire for the evenings.
The boat trips up the cove to Mt Kennedy Glacier and out and about the inlet and out to Johnston Straight showed us magnificent fiord scenery of mountains capped with snow and ice. We saw at close range wild life of all description, from Humpback whales, both blowing and diving, Orca whales, Dolphins playfully swimming in the wake of the boats, Seals, mature and immature Bald Eagles, Scoters, Gulls, Egrets, to the “work-ups” of the myriad of birds feeding on the balls of bait fish. Beavers prowled the lodge verandah at night.
We had hardly arrived at the cove before we had sighted grizzly bears by the river and then a further 14 sightings from the Weir Stand, all before lunch.
The knowledge freely given, the care of our safety both on land and sea, the friendly approach of the guides and lodge staff was exceptional. It would not be proper to single out staff for they all fulfilled their roles competently.
Knight Inlet Lodge has been in contact with Dr. Owen Nevin, a noted grizzly bear researcher, who is very familiar with the bears of Glendale Cove. Dr. Nevin says that the white / blond cub’s colouring while unusual compared to it’s darker siblings is not that uncommon for Glendale Cove. Dr. Nevin is with the Centre for Wildlife Conservation at the University of Cumbria. Dr. Nevin and Melanie Clapham, also from Cumbria University, are working on a study of grizzly bears and their rub trees that Knight Inlet Lodge helps to sponsor. This inlcudes remote cameras placed at strategic locations around Glendlae Cove as discussed in an earleir story.
He has supplied us with this photo, taken in 2000, of another white / blond grizzly cub in Glendale Cove.
Here is a photo of the grizzly sow with her 3 cubs. Note how the one is almost white in colour. This photo was taken by Knight Inlet Lodge guide Moira Le Patourel.
One guest who was at Knight Inlet Lodge on a 3 night package reports seeing 23 grizzly bears during his stay. A repeat guest on his third visit to our lodge he called this a “thrill of a lifetime” and will be back yet again in a couple of years.
This rare photo of a cougar in the wild was taken by a remote motion sensor camera mounted in Glendale Cove. This project, jointly funded by Knight Inlet Lodge and the University of Cumbria is aimed at studying grizzly bears and their rub trees