A lone cub in her second season runs from the meadow towards the beach at the mouth of the creek. She is no doubt searching for food.
She wades into the water and sits on her rump, just as she had seen her mother do. But, she lacks the knowledge and technique of her mother and no fish miraculously appear.
On the near creek bank, she digs for clams, finding only empty shells.
Suddenly, she senses another bear in the vicinity and heads for the beach vegetation behind us.
There is much display of concern, an excess of caution, with both bears. They often stand to get a better view, though they have notoriously poor eyesight. Each is ready to flee.
|Yes, slightly out of focus, but too informative to delete.|
There’s a tentative meeting at the creek…..
A recognition and...
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
Note the difference in facial features. This is Rick's explanation: Normally males have a longer face and the females a much rounder face. Face length is an indicator but not always valid, as in this case where both cubs are female. The lighter-faced cub already has shed and its new coat is longer which often makes the face look rounder. The darker cub is still shedding and the new coat is shorter, revealing more bone structure.
|What a playground!|
These two are called The Orphans, though they are not true orphans nor are they siblings. Their mothers are alive but kicked these cubs out earlier this summer.
Cubs usually stay with their mothers until their third summer. After that, she runs them off to fend for themselves. All sibling relationships are soon forgotten and the young bears begin a solitary life, avoiding other bears, especially boars, for their own safety.
For now, they have teamed up for companionship and a false sense of safety. A third cub, a male and literally orphaned when his mother Pavlov was killed in what must have been an epic battle, used to hang out with these two, but has moved farther south to Shelter Creek.
Occasionally these two become separated for a few days, then find each other again. That is what has happened as we watch.
They play fight for a long time, pausing only for a second or two. It is quite special to watch, yet common sense--and Rick--say there is little chance these females will still be alive next summer. It's a sobering thought as we watch the exuberant joy of these two cubs.
They should still be nursing, still be under the protection of their mothers, still relying on their mother to catch fish for them, still learning how to be self-reliant bears. Instead, they find food where they can, perhaps the sedge grasses, perhaps berries or rodents in the forest. They should be fattening up for their long hibernation, yet it's obvious that under all that shedding fur, they are lean and unprepared.
Instead, it’s all fun and games on the beach as winter approaches and one can’t help but think of the Aesop's fable about the busy little ants working to provide for winter while the grasshopper fiddles.
Eventually, we return to the lodge where we dine on fresh salmon.
|A beautiful salad with fresh greens from the lodge's garden.|
|Oops. I forgot to take a photo.|
|So, I ask the man at the next table --shown below at right in patterned shirt--if I could take a photo of his plate.|
There will be no salmon tonight for The Orphans.