Tag Archives: autumn
A cold front has moved into Interior Alaska, bringing a full day of rain on Sunday and cool temps on Monday. The soggy Sunday even drove me to light a fire in the wood stove. At 41F degrees, Fairbanks won’t even hit half of where San Antonio will be.
I’m not complaining, but I’m also not ready for that four letter word that starts with an ‘s’.
The bear known as 747 was crowned the champion of Fat Bear Week. Not only is 747 the largest bear of Katmai National Park, but the big bruin is likely one of the largest brown bears on the planet.
Photo credit: Katmai National Park
747 vs 901
This is the first time in the title round for Bear 901. She’s a 6-1/2 yo female, who was first identified in 2018. The big question in Katmai isn’t whether 901 can knock off the wide body 747 for the crown, but whether she will emerge from the den in 2023 with her first litter of cubs.
Fertilized eggs will not implant in her uterus until she has denned up for the winter. Even then, during hibernation, it will be 901’s body that decides if she is healthy enough and chunky enough to become pregnant. Without ample body fat to get 901 through hibernation and nourish a litter of cubs, the pregnancy will not occur.
747 on the other hand, being a large male, only has to worry about getting enough fat reserves to see himself through hibernation. Being one of the largest bears on planet earth, I think 747 has hit his goals. Although, no doubt, he is still putting on the calories.
Images credit: Katmai National Park & Preserve/photographer listed; Bio info credit: Katmai NP&P
Round 1: The Youngsters
Bear #164 is a 5yo adult male. First identified in 2019, 164 does not compete for fishing spots, but instead created his own. He fishes the base of Brooks Falls on the edge of the deepest pool. No current bear fishes the spot, and none have in recent memory.
Bear #335 is a subadult female, and the daughter of previous champion Holly. This summer was her first as an independent bear. 335 is the youngest bear in the bracket, having won the Junior Bear Title. As a smaller bear, she also didn’t fight for prime fishing holes, but instead harvested spawned out salmon down river.
Round 1: The Rivals
Bear #747 – Wide Body, is one of my favorite bears at Brooks Falls. 747 is also one of the largest brown bears on the planet, tipping in at roughly 1400 pounds this time of year. When he was first spotted at Brooks Falls in 2004, 747 was unable to compete for fishing spots with larger bears. How times have changed as bears move out of his way these days when he approaches. #747 was the 2020 Fat Bear Champion.
For years, Bear 747 gave way to only one bear: #856. That changed in 2021, when 747 displaced 856 in the large bear hierarchy. Between 2011 and 2020, 856 was the top bruin on the falls. His aggressive disposition and willingness to take on any challenger led to many fights, all of which were victories. This summer, 856 refused to give up his title easily, and frequently challenged 747 for the best fishing spots.
Photos come courtesy of Katmai National Park & Preserve; photographers listed below photos
Voting takes place here:
Fat Bear Week starts on Wednesday, and the bracket is out. Defending champion Otis (Bear #480) gets a bye in Round One, as does Chunk (32), Grazer (128) and Holly (435).
Voting will take place daily, 8am-5pm AKDT, until a champion is crowned next (Fat Bear) Tuesday.
Cast your vote at:
Beavers patrolling The Pond. The birch, aspen and cottonwoods are all targets.
There has not been any action from the beavers since early spring. Once we made it into late September, and had the first hard freeze, they shifted into that busy beaver mode. It’s been nonstop action, day and night, collecting their favorite trees for the pantry, ever since. They already have a decent pile of semi-submerged tree limbs in front of their lodge.
They are a fascinating rodent, but if you want to save a nice birch from their teeth, you need to be proactive. My “yard” has a fence around it, but they still manage to break through from time to time. The neighbor though, offers them an easy smorgasbord, so for the most part, they seem to take the path of least resistance. In one night, three beavers dropped a dozen trees and waddled off with roughly half of their lumber in that raid. The next night, they came back for the other half, logs and all.
This will continue until The Pond finally freezes over. It’s a rough six weeks of the year for a birch.
September has always been my favorite month in Interior Alaska. What a great start to the month.