BearHead Photography's Favorite Pictures
BearHead Photography has many images to showcase his expansive portfolio on mammals of North America, and these are his favorite pictures.
Ready to Pounce
I had seen this lynx just briefly as it crossed an opening and then disappeared. I wanted to find it again, but finding lynx is a very difficult task even if you know exactly where they are. After searching a while, I decided to try one more area, and as I walked around a tree our eyes met. It was an incredible feeling! Thankfully the lynx just sat there and looked at me and didn’t run away. Seeing a lynx’s eyes looking at you in the forest is just incredible!
It is hard to understand just how vast Alaska is until you have been. Denali is over 6 million acres, and the majority of that land is all backcountry access only. Wildlife can truly live their lives and never be influenced by human activity. A large moose takes advantage of a nice evening to eat from a pond and to get away from the bugs.
Coming at You
When brown bears are fishing they can become very excited and chase any fish they see. This brown bear was patrolling the river all afternoon when a salmon got stuck in shallow water near where I was standing. She turned immediately when she saw this and bolted like a freight train after that salmon. She had every determination to catch that fish, and she was successful.
Grand Prize Winner National Geographic Photo Contest
Grizzly bear cubs are very playful when they are young. These cubs had been rolling around, and when they finished the one cub stood up and put its paws together.
Highly Honored Photograph Natures Best Photography Competition
It's not often you come across three bull moose hanging out together. I first only saw one moose, and it was only once I hiked up and over a hill did I see that there were three moose. After spending over three hours with them and only getting mediocre pictures, that all changed in a heartbeat. I couldn't believe my good fortune when they all left the pond and went up on the ridge and stood still for just a few moments. Being all along with these moose with this setting was a moment I will never forget.
Going All Out
When this bear made up its mind on a fish it saw and thought it could catch, it went all out. It would completely lay out and go horizontal with the river. Here it is a split second away from going in the river and catching its fish.
On our first day with the pups we only heard the adults and didn’t get to see them. We knew they were around, but they didn’t show themselves. The next day the alpha female wolf went onto a riverbed and the pups followed. Comparing the pups size with their mother for the first time really showed us how young they were.
Out of the Clouds
I’ve spent many years in the backcountry of Denali searching for and photographing moose. The ultimate goal was to find a bull moose and photograph it with Denali in the background. I’ve seen the mountain and moose, but never in a good opportunity for photos. When the mountain began to come out of the clouds, I prayed the moose would stay by the pond long enough to capture it with Denali in the background.
Hearing a wild wolf howl is one of the greatest sounds in nature. Often times I hear the wolf, but never get to actually see the wolf. This white wolf howled for a long time, so it gave me time to track the sound and maybe find the wolf. When I went over a rise and saw this white wolf on the top of the ridge, my heart about stopped in pure excitement! Moments like this is why I'm a wildlife photographer.
Rise and Shine
Bears are just like humans when they wake up from a nap, groggy. This bear family had a good rest on the tidal flats, and were woken by the rising tide. They weren't ready to get up yet, but had to. The two cubs clung to their mother and wanted more rest, but mom knew better because of the rising tide.
On only the coldest of mornings can hoar frost happen. Not only does it have to be cold, but their has to be moisture in the air as well. When the sun made it over the ridge, the trees began to shine because of the hoar frost. A buffalo was underneath this tree trying to stay warm and find some food as it was -40 degrees.
The Wild Coast
In Alaska you just never know what you might encounter with wildlife. There is such great diversity, and the animals are in numerous areas. Once this bear noticed the bald eagle had a fish, it went over to investigate. The eagle had eaten all it wanted and flew over the bear as it went to rest and digest its meal.
Finding the elusive bobcat is a hard task. After putting in days and days, I finally caught a break. I found this cat along a river as it was hunting for ducks. With a heavy snow falling and it walking a little ridge, it was a perfect winter setting.
It is not very often that you have a crystal clear view of Denali. On my last camping trip of the summer I was fortunate to come across this scene. In Wonder Lake was a mother and calf moose taking there time eating the grass of the bottom of the lake. I could not think of a better way to end my summer.
Mother bear bent this tree down and used it to rest on. The tree made for a great jungle gym for the cubs to play on too. After they were done playing, they came next to mom and leaned over the tree branch all at once.
A bald eagles wingspan can be greater than 7 feet. They are a beautiful bird and a very graceful soarer. When a fish below caught this eagles attention, it made a sharp turn to head to the river.
Great grey owls have the largest wingspan of any owls. They can have a wingspan of over 60 inches. Seeing this large bird fly directly at me was an intimidating experience.
When we first encountered the wolf pups they were a ways away, but I was still happy. Then they closed the distance in half, and then they came even closer. They were indifferent to us being there, and went about playing and being pups. They got tired after a while and laid down for a small break.
It is hard to describe just how awesome a large tidewater glacier is! In Glacier Bay National Park there are a number of really large glaciers that come all the way down to the water from high in the mountains. This particular glacier has carved out a massive area that has in the last few hundred years filled in with sea water. The expansiveness of the area and the grandeur of the glacier and mountains was quite the site to see!
Sometimes I wish I could be a cub and just hang out. I know being a bear cub is not easy and living in nature is difficult. But when you see a cub in a tree hanging over limbs without a care in the world for that moment, it would be nice to also not have a care in the world.
Into the Mist
Not long after I spotted this bull elk, his females headed for the river. It was a foggy morning, but when I got to the river, there was more fog there than in the meadow. It was such a neat, eerie feeling seeing the elk go in the river and disappear in the fog. In the fall when the temperature drops over night, a fog can occur, and it provided a dramatic scene for this large bull elk as he entered the water.
Getting light in the arctic is not easy. It is often overcast and very grey. After spending all of our time with this bear in grey light, the sun shown through a hole in the clouds for just a few seconds to bring the landscape to life.
Observing the northern lights never gets old. Each show is very different from the last, and unpredictable. This night started off very slow, and then all of a sudden this beam appeared and started moving around! Watching it move over the mountains was a memorable experience.
I watched as this lynx went into the woods, and I hoped it would stop and give me a chance for more photos. I could just see its ears in the woods, and I wanted it to come back out so badly. I waited, and slowly it came out more and more and sat down and watched from the edge of the woods. The light slowly moved down and when it lit the lynx up, I had a shot I never thought I would get.
Bald eagles take advantage of any opportunity to eat fish. Many of the fish are to large for the eagles to carry away, so they must wait on bears or other animals to eat some of the fish first. This eagle saw its opportunity and swooped in snag some fish.
Most of the time whale watching humpback whales is seeing their tail before they dive. Just seeing that is neat because of how large they are. Every once in a while they jump and show just how large they are. Capturing this is hard because it is often unexpected and over in just a few seconds, but it so impressive seeing just how large these whales are.
Great grey owls are a majestic owl of the forest. They perch on tops of trees to have the best vantage point to hunt from. With this view, it looked as if it was watching over the Tetons.
There are too many times to count when I had a great setting with wildlife, but no light. Having both come together perfectly on this morning was a dream. As I ran to the stream, hoping they would cross in the perfect morning light, I waited only briefly before they decided to cross. The morning light, reflection, and mountains made for a dramatic backcountry Alaskan scene.
There were only a couple of bears that fished on Brooks Falls that were fast enough to catch salmon that did not jump right to them. This bear was probably the most successful bear at catching salmon that there was. As this salmon tried to sneak by, at the last second the bear turned its head and that salmon was caught.
I love getting off the road and away from everyone and finding my own shot. There are many times I spend hiking through the tundra or woods and don't come up with anything. But those moments when you do find wildlife to yourself are the moments you never forget. When I found these three bull moose together I was ecstatic. I followed them for over three hours before this special moment occurred, and I was more than happy that I waited and followed to see what photographic opportunities they would present.
There are shots you dream of and say,”If only a moose would be right here".” I’ve lost count on how many times and in how many places I have said that for a shot I wanted. This was one of those moments when I had said this for a few years, and when I saw this large bull moose walking in the fall tundra in front of Denali I captured a shot I had been dreaming about.
Finding an ermine in the winter is not an easy task. Finding a small white animal in a land of snow is like looking for a needle in a hay stack. Fortunately, this little guy came out of his hole right when we were going by and my friend spotted him. When he first saw us it just stood there to try and figure out what we were.
Hunting for ducks is not easy for a bobcat. Trying to get out far enough into the river to jump for a duck can be a difficult task, since they don't like to swim. After deciding not to jump for a duck, the bobcat jumped between logs to avoid getting wet and swimming in the cold water.
Going for a Ride
When cubs are real young, it is somewhat common for them to latch onto mom while she is swimming. This little cub was tired of walking in the grass and decided to climb onto mom as she moved around and save its energy.
I love experiencing and seeing new things in nature. As I was driving, I faintly saw a streak in the fog. I stopped, and then noticed the faint outline of a rainbow. But there was no rain, so it had to be a fog bow. I parked and began hiking in the fog looking for something to photograph with the fog bow, and found these trees. The heavily hoar frost covered trees really made the fog bow behind them stand out and show off how great it was.
Ice bergs come from glaciers when they become detached from the glacier. I loved the perspective I was able to get to show this ice berg up close with where it came from many hundreds of years ago.
Finding tigers in the wild is not an easy task. They mostly stalk their prey, but will sit and wait for hours in the middle of the day for something to walk by. When they are in the tiger grass they disappear completely, and only once they come out do you realize why they cannot be seen in the grass.
Moving as One
Being a sloth bear cub is the good life. Mother watches carefully over all day, and anytime they are on the move the cubs get a free ride. As this family moves through a boulder field, the cubs watch carefully so they don't hit any rocks.
In the mountains in the morning it is often foggy after a rain storm. The moisture in the air combined with the usually cooler temperature, can create a very heavy fog. As the fog was beginning to burn off, the larger trees began to cast a shadow across the fog and add a neat effect to the look of the forest.
Being able to watch a large polar bear close up in it natural environment is a great experience. Once he determined we were a little to close, it let us know by showing us his teeth.