• Christopher Mounsey

Running into Bears

Last Wednesday I went for an evening walk with some friends with the aim of seeing some raven chicks through our telescope. What we didn't expect to see was a bear!

We'd gone on the walk with a telescope to watch the activity from a raven's nest and try some digi-scoping. And quite the success it was too, as we managed to take some lovely shots of the four chicks.

Next up was a parasitic plant with a name that I can't remember!

An Ortolan bunting (Emberiza hortulana) sitting on a rock with a view...

And as we stopped at a juniper bush for a break, we heard a hiss. Sure enough, a Nose-horned viper (Vipera ammodytes)...

All in all it was quite the walk. And as we decided to head back down to attend our village festival that evening, we see a bear amongst these trees. No more than 50 metres ahead of us. We all froze. Except the bear, who took a split second look at us and then literally ran for the hills. By the time any of us had calmed down and got a camera out the bear was far away. Fortunately my lens is just good enough to get a blurry photo and take the video. Not before I'd spent 30 seconds restarting the camera as I kept pressing the "Connect to Wi-Fi" button instead of 'Record', such was my panic and blustering! Still, we managed to watch him or her run from these trees all the way over the mountain on the skyline. It must have covered a kilometre of mountain in less than two minutes. 'Fast', is the word.

It must be noted that whilst there are bears in the region, they do not look for conflict. Quite the opposite. They avoid any possibly confrontation. With the exception of the shepherds, up in the hills all day, it is exceptionally rare for people to see a bear. Exceptionally. Normally they sense us far earlier than we ever see them. But the wind must have been blowing against us this time. Still, as soon as it spotted us, it was off. No messing about!

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