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Brown bear watching and wildlife tours on the wild coast of Katmai National Park in Alaska.
Brown bear watching & wildlife tours on the coast of Katmai National Park, Alaska
Katmai Coastal Bear Tours
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September- Healthy, happy bears in golden low angle light
Autumn comes on fast and dramatic in the north country. The month of September is the period on the Katmai coast when that magic feeling of fall saturates the land. September is often the top choice for photographers who want images of fishing bears because of the bearís physical appearance and seasonal light conditions.

Due to Katmaiís high northern latitude, the September sun hangs relatively low in the southern sky and arcs from east to west, illuminating the country with a softer, low angle light. When it is clear and sunny shadows are seen throughout the day. Although weather tends be rainier during this month, clear days are common, and their brilliance is exhilarating. The long days of summer begin to wane in September, and one can expect true darkness from roughly 9pm-5am. Early morning and evening light is much more convenient to work than in June/July when each happen very early and late, respectively. Temperatures are cooler, and nights can be chilly (low 30ís Far), but sunny days can still reach up to 70 degrees. Northern lights are rarely viewed at this latitude, but they are possible on clear nights.
For the vast majority of the time, bears are fishing during this period. They continue to graze on select vegetation, browse for berries, and sometimes dig clams, but salmon is the main quarry. Bears have been fishing since late July, and by September they have gained considerable weight (up to 40% from early August). Most appear healthy, act very mellow, and have grown in their new bushy coats which they shed each year in July.

On almost every river system bears find pink, chum and sometimes sockeye salmon during this period, and a few productive runs of silver salmon occur in some areas. The silver salmon may the bearís favorite, as they are big and full of fat and oil. They are also very strong, fast and difficult to catch, but the bears are willing to put in the extra effort in their pursuit, making for incredible displays of action. The silver is the most handsome of Katmaiís salmon species, so when a bear proudly carries its hard-won catch to the shore, phenomenal photo opportunities result.
The appearance of the vegetation on the Katmai Coast appears markedly different from earlier in the summer. The wildflowers have closed up and turned to seeds or brightly colored berries, and the foliage turns rusty red, brown, or yellow. By mid September many of the cottonwoods, birches and willows, which line the riverbanks, take on classic bright yellow color, but the ďleaf peakĒ on the coast is usually the last week of September/early October.
September trips offer a little higher risk, but higher reward than earlier in the summer. While the weather can be a little more challenging, on a crystal clear day, with low angle light, and a splash of fall color , the highlights of the entire season are often enjoyed as we sit on the banks of a river filled with beautiful, happy bears.

Brad Josephs
Naturalist Guide, Katmai Coastal Bear Tours

June Bears |  July Bears |  August Bears |  September Bears |  Ana's Story

Katmai Coastal Bear Tours
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Katmai Coastal Bear Tours
Homer, Alaska 99603
Phone 1-907-235-8337

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