Since the winter is close to coming to an end, I’ve prepared a five-part series on black bears, which are already coming out in the Shenandoah Valley. Monday I’ll kick off the series with “Part I: A Basic Background” and introduce the additional segments daily all week.

The unseen

November 22, 2008

Friday in Shenandoah National Park, I scoped out Limberlost again in the morning. Snow was still abundant along the path and earlier tracks had been mostly covered. During the morning walk, it was cold. Not just a little bit, but the biting cold that hurts within seconds.

I made my way to where I had seen bobcat tracks last time, and caught onto something else, bear tracks.

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I followed the bear tracks for a bit, and then saw fresh bobcat tracks in a different location than last time. These tracks were fresh enough that I imagine they were from the night before, or even that morning. Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday was a long, but rewarding trip through the Old Rag circuit hike in Shenandoah National Park. The view was spectacular from the top but there was not a ton of action on the wildlife front.

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Shortly before 8 a.m., I arrived at the overflow parking area on Nethers Road (Rt. 600) and waited for the rest of my group to arrive. The main lot closest to the trailhead only has 12 spaces and was already filled. The overflow parking is about a mile down the road and has 100+ spots. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekday evenings are usually a good time to scan for wildlife in Shenandoah National Park, simply because not as many people are in the park and many animals are most active.

Thursday I set out for Big Meadows, where I frequently visit, but since I enter from Route 33, in the middle of the park, I have a 15 mile drive north to the meadow. I love the drive up on Skyline Drive because I am able to go nice and slow and frequently find things to photograph without even having to hike.

At 4:15, shortly before the Hensley Hollow overlook, a bear crossed my path and I was able to make a few frames before he lumbered up the hill. I’ll write more in depth another time about my past experiences with bears, but I’ve seen several dozen in a variety of ways since starting this project.

Today’s bear was on the larger side. I don’t think he’ll make the cut for the book, but he’s still an interesting guy to look at. He was rather bulky and that should serve him well when hibernation rolls around. Read the rest of this entry »