Very close encounter with a bear
OVER the years I have written about my many friends and contacts in the world of natural history, including writers, researchers, reserve wardens, eco-tour guides, painters and photographers. Oh, and Sir David Attenborough – sorry for the namedropping, but what a lovely man.
The latest to hit these pages is photographer and tour leader Jari Peltomaki, director of Finnature in Finland, and his website at finnature. com is – to use an overused adjective – awesome.
One browse and I guarantee you’ll stick it on your favourites.
He sent me some pictures this week which I felt honour-bound to share with you – especially the brown bear shot seen here – which is enough to make you want to bin your camera gear. I’m not normally into ‘cute’ when it comes to animal photography, but readers can have a field-day inventing captions for this one.
Best comment wins a workshop and threecourse lunch for two at the Laughing Badger Gallery.
Just email your best efforts to me – see details at the end of this article.
The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is the national animal of Finland and the population is estimated at around 1,000 individuals, but despite this low figure it is still hunted.
Without reinforcements from behind the Russian border, Finnish bears would long since have been hunted to extinction.
Martinselkonen nature reserve is situated in the Suomussalmi municipality in the vicinity of the Russian border, and bears have been fed here for 10 years now, and on the best nights 15 to 20 different individual bears have visited the carcasses.
I have been to Finnish Lapland myself and, as usual, decided to wander off into the trees by myself; I love that feeling of expectation, the sound of snow crackling underfoot, the rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker, then silence, and then what?
Well, you just never know what will turn up, fly past or startle you, and you invariably see something other than what you set out for, which proved true on this particular adventure.
I had been pointed in the direction of a roosting and seriously moon-faced great grey owl, and although I was sure I heard his gruff and primate-like call in the distance, and indeed had tried to call him by impersonating the sound, did not catch a glimpse of the bird.
At this stage I was completely out of sight of any human, hide, telegraph pole or vehicle, and if you spun me around, it would only have been the sun which told me which way was back.
After another five minutes I came upon a small boggy lake, which did not look deep, but as I deliberated the decision was made for me.
On the far side of the water, a single brown bear stopped in his tracks and looked at me, our eyes met for a couple of seconds, before he set off again, unperturbed.
‘Good lad,’ I whispered to the bear, and ‘Get in, Woody,’ to myself.
For a chance of winning a workshop and three-course lunch for two at the Laughing Badger Gallery, simply email your photo caption for the picture above to sean.wood@talk21. com.
The Laughing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Padfield, Glossop
●» A brown bear, snapped by Jari Peltomaki, director of Finnature in Finland