This morning seemed to be promising for migrating birds. As usual, I opened the nets around 6:45 (yes, we wait until we can at least see what’s around in the field, and for very good reason). I was banding alone this morning and when that’s the case, I’m probably a bit more wary than other times. Didn’t see any bears this morning, so I opened Net #1 and went on to the others.
On my way back from opening the last nets, I stopped at Net #1 again to pick a song sparrow. I’m standing there getting the bird out, and right behind me I hear a bit of rustling in the bushes. Through the goldenrods and brambles, I can see the tell-tale, solid black nothing that is bear-hide under the bush. Right there!
Fortunately, it was a little guy, about the size of a German shepherd, standing there looking at me. Next to him was another sibling. So I said to myself “Self, where’s their mother?”
I got the bird out of the net in record time and returned to the Jeep, which was only a few feet from the end of the net. Surely when I beeped the horn and started the engine, the bears would move. Not so. They were camped out and seemed not the least bit concerned about my presence. No sign of Mom anywhere. Although I didn’t make too much noise and didn’t feel it necessary to really scare them (I didn’t want them to panic and run across Flatbrook Road), they certainly knew I was there, and it was pretty apparent that these two cubs had no intention of leaving. They looked relaxed and not at all afraid, and they intended to stay put and munch berries. Okaaaaay.
These two are the first bears I have encountered while banding that have not immediately run away, which left me wondering. They weren’t that big, and believe me, I was watching for Mom, but she wasn’t around. I do think these two are on their own. After half an hour or more of watching them sit around the bushes, munching on berries and just hanging out, I figured they weren’t going to be much of a threat – but I wasn’t going to press my luck either. It’s not the first time there’s been a bear in that particular set of bushes and apparently, won’t be the last.
I found it sort of amusing. We have nets further afield set up between a large stand of autumn olive bushes – that I normally don’t even open when I’m alone because visibility is very poor. Instead, I open nets #1 through #7, which are in a more open field and visibility is much better. Or so I thought until this morning. It made me wonder how many times have I ‘safely’ banded alone there with bears hiding just a few feet away?
Managed a blue headed vireo and a few others before deciding to call it quits. I have help tomorrow. Anyone who wants to volunteer to watch out for bears while I’m banding, just let me know!