The birch tree and White Ears
I am probably not far away from truth when saying that the majority of people believe that all bears have pretty much the same look. I also had some difficulty in differentiating brown bears to begin with. Having started to photograph brown bears since 2010 it was just by observing the shades of their fur color & their body size that I could start to individualize them. One starts to realize that every bear is unique & unrepeatable the more time he spends around these amazing animals. The way every human is unique & unrepeatable. Sometimes one meets bears resembling each other quite closely, but there are definitely no two identical bears if one adds their specific behavioral characteristics into account.
I met a very interesting young male bear in November 2012 during my trip to Kuril Lake in the southern tip of Kamchatka Peninsula while visiting there my friend - Igor Shpilenok.
That bear was quite different from his peers: while his fur was of a dark brown color, his ear tips were outstandingly bright. It looked like he put two white winter gloves on them. Igor called him "White Ears". White Ears stuck out from other bears not only due to the color of his ears, but also because of his behavior. It was quite obvious I was looking at a future alpha male bear.
Even while playing he demonstrated his leadership ambitions: often stood on his rear legs & showed his full power, fought skillfully & overthrew his rivals on their backs in no time. He didn't appreciate my approaching as well - I had to observe him from quite afar.
White Ears used to come up to birch trees, sharpened his claws & rubbed his back against them. Bears periodically mark their territory in such a manner warning other bears about their presence due to the special scent they leave on tree trunks.
Scientists state that bears communicate with each other in such manner: these marked trees are chosen by them on purpose & are used by many generations of animals. Studying the scent bears record it into their memory & this information helps them avoid "surprise factor" upon meeting unfamiliar bears & decrease chances of a serious conflict. I can say nothing about it except that the scientists know better. For me it was simply a very interesting bear behavior to watch & photograph.
I saw White Ears coming out of the bush not far away from the ranger post on my departure day from the Kuril Lake. I was getting ready to leave, packaging my stuff and equipment as well as the garbage that was to betaken away from the territory of the reserve. White Ears probably came out to say goodbye...
I keep thinking about White Ears ever since my return from Kamchatka... How things are with him out there?
Here is a large size panorama of the world where White Ears reigns for those of you who have a large monitor. Stay tuned!