Home Back Forward August 8, 1999: A Close Look at the Cubs Activity

Building elevators for Kolb aircraft. I brought the blueprints, which I had since I originally built the plane the winter of 92-93, and all the materials, because I knew last fall that I would have to do this little task

If you look at the notes, at 10:20 Biscuit gets up and moves onto the rock for a little more comfort. Chico is asleep with her bum in the water. This was when Maureen took this picture.

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We are experiencing one storm after the other but still get things done and there is always more waiting. When it is miserable out we work inside. Maureen sometimes in the small cabin next door, painting and I where-ever I can find some space. We compete for computer time as there is a limited amount of battery power when the fog is thick. The last few days I have been building new elevators for my aircraft. The old ones are becoming a bit worn at the rivets from the wind hitting them from behind during the many storms that it has had to endure over the past four years.

I did not disassemble the plane until today so I was able to fly to the research station to get our fresh vegetables. They were not to fresh however, having sat waiting for several days while we were storm bound. (I think Maureen alerted you to this problem in her last entry). As it was, while I was away the fog moved into our lake again. All that day it was blue sky every where I could see except the Kambalnoe river area up to the divide. A low thick blanket covered the west side. The tops of the mountains were also above the fog. I flew around enjoying the east coast country hoping to see the fog leave again. Eventually I had to set down where I could watch because I was getting low on gas. The bears on that coast, which is only 8 miles from our cabin, were eating a few pink salmon but mostly a pea vine which grows in thick mats along the beach. By 8 p.m. it was still socked in and the sky was looking like another storm was brewing. I keep a sleeping bag and tent and some well sealed food in my plane so that I can camp out for a couple of days but its not great if the storm lasts a week. That night I planned to head back to the research station if I couldn't get home before dark, and borrow some questionable gas to get back again when the weather permitted. Finally at 8:30 I few to have a final look and sure enough I found the hole in the fog that often appears at the south end of the lake in these conditions. (See last years entry, Aircraft Used as a Tool in the Wilderness, where I describe this phenomenon). Maureen was happy to see the veggies - and me.

Chico and Biscuit offer a wonderful opportunity to record exactly what they eat and do for periods of time that we chose to watch them. Lately I decided to try to go for a solid 24 hour period spelling off with Maureen. We only made it though 12 hours. This was far more exhausting than I imagined. There were a lot of mosquitoes and it rained often. It was interesting to see their patterns of feeding and sleeping and exactly what they eat and for how long. It is just about as informative to record for two hour periods so we are back to doing that. On three occasions I tried to spend all night with them also. One night I made it until 12:30 am but there was a hurricane blowing and they kept eating until that hour before deciding to go to one of their known, only to them, beds in the middle of a scrub pine thicket. If the wind hadn't been blowing so hard I could probably been able to follow them by sound but they lost me in about 40 yards. I walked the mile back to the cabin with my head lamp to guide me. On an other try the rain storm came in and sent me scurrying back home.

Here is a small sample of how we record the cubs activities.

July 26, 1999 A close look at the cubs activity.

Weather- high overcast, 15. C. Many mosquitoes.
9:57 Chico digging up mats of nymph casing from beach sand and eating them. Biscuit eating sedge.
10:02 Chico is now eating sedge also.
10:06 globe flower leaves, B- sedge. Chico looks down wind and seems to be listening for something for 30 seconds.
10:08 Biscuit lays down to rest.
10:10 Chico also rests, both within two feet of the Kambalnoe lake. Chico's bum is hanging in the water.
10:20 Biscuit gets up eats a little sedge and then lays down on top of a rock. Looks very comfortable. Sleep is fitful because there is no wind and the bugs are numerous. They bite the soles of their feet, noses and around eyes.
10:38 Chico gets up, craps and starts eating several things; grass, angelica, globe flower leaves, bear plant (only a small, 6inch segment of each stem near top). Note: so-called bear plant is an umbra plant. I have never seen anything like it in North America. It is a very important bear food here and I have asked several Russian scientists for the Latin name but they have conflicting opinions. Have been promised that they will straighten this out for us.
10:44 Biscuit now also gets up from rest. She eats a few bug casings from beach but there are not many as there are sometimes when they can get a decent meal.
10:50 Moving along edge of beach C-grass, B- equisetum (horse tail).
10:55 C- angelica, B- also.
11:00 C- equisetum and grass, B- same. The grass- equisetum combination is the only one so far that I have seen where they deliberately grab both at once in a mouthful. Note: At one hour bears have been within a 200 ft. radius.
11:05 B- craps, estimation 2 1/2 lbs.
11:08 B- angelica, then switches to grass. C- grass.
11:17 ....
11:22 and so on and so forth.

In the 12 hour time period they ate nine species of plants, one dead gull chick, perhaps one vole, some bugs. They will soon be switching to salmon because sockeye are now in the lake spawning. For a while they hardly look at a plant. Later they turn to berries and then pine nuts interspersed with salmon.


© Lenticular Productions Ltd. 1999