Windfall Harbor, Part 1

Today I’m going to feature a few of my images from Windfall Harbor, Alaska. Windfall Harbor is near Pack Creek, the location of the Stan Price State Wildlife Sanctuary, a noted brown bear preserve on Admiralty Island in Southeast Alaska. When we arrived at Pack Creek, we were a day early (you must have a permit for this preserve, and our permit was for the following day) so the Captain decided to go a little bit farther south and anchor for the evening in Windfall Harbor. This was a wonderful decision by the Captain. You also need a permit to go ashore at Windfall Harbor; we happened to have one!

Right out of the chute, upon our arrival at Windfall Harbor, we watched this Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) sow and her yearling triplets head for the creek. This is rather unusual to see triplets that are a year old. It is a bit uncommon, although not rare, to see a sow with triplets. But normally all 3 do not survive the harsh environment of the brown bear:


Brown Bear sow with her yearling triplets


Brown Bear sow with yearling triplets


In this last image, did you notice the “Windfall Zoo”? Besides the 4 brown bears, you can see several eagles, some ravens, lots of gulls, and some common mergansers and a couple of seals in the foreground water!

After anchoring, and as the Captain maneuvered our skiff to the shore, hundreds of Bald Eagles left the dense stand of Sitka Spruce. Once ashore, we walked a short distance to a small creek that emerged from the dense wooded area and flowed into the harbor. There was no bear activity at the time, but the Captain instructed us to sit along the bank and be patient. Not long afterwards, the bears began showing up, and ready for dinner:


Brown Bear closeup



In this next photo, a brown bear emerges from the creek with a freshly caught salmon:


Brown Bear with fresh salmon dinner


Being late in the bear season (August), the salmon runs were full of fish fighting to get upstream to spawn. One of the things bears often do when fish are plentiful, is to be selective in what they eat. Since they are rushing to put on the necessary weight that will hold them over the winter, they will concentrate on the fatty portions of the fish, primarily the brains and roe (eggs) if the fish is a female, and discard the remaining parts of the fish. This next  photo illustrates this quite well … note the bear is working on the fatty brain tissue:


Brown Bear with fresh salmon dinner



Looking forward to another visit to Windfall Harbor and Pack Creek, and the wonderful Brown Bears there!

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