Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mefodiy 16 months ago and now.

On a first photo Mefodiy is less than a day old. He recieved this name from my readers. Mefodiy was the first bison being born free in a newly reintroduced european bison population in Bryans Forest Nature Reserve.  
This morning, before the sunrise, I took a photo of him at the additional food supply location in the reserve. During two hours while I was observing him, Mefodiy managed to butt with all the grown up bulls, just as before.
Additionally, he tried to lift up the haystack weighting 300 kilograms (661 pounds). But he couldn't. He is not quite strong enough to lift it... yet!
Originally posted in Russian/Оригинал на русском:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In my village, Chuhrai...

Many years ago, when I first settled in an abandoned forest ranger station in Bryansk Forest I bought a horse, Gazik. At that time he was my only transport in a land of swamps and forests. I was riding it almost every day throughout the year, on sleigh in winter.
After I moved to my current house on the other side of the Nerussa River in a small village Chuhrai, the accessibility to my home did not improve a whole lot. You could only get there on a tractor or a military type off-road vehicle, and not the all year around, just when it was dry. So the horses were still the most reliable transport. 
These are my current horses on the photo above. On the right is my favorite horse, Aza. When she was young, she was grey with dark spots, but now she appears to be all white. Aza is 26 years old, amazing horse. She feels responsibility for a rider. This is my only horse that I have never fallen from and she has never fallen under me either. All my children has learned to ride with Aza, and the youngest ones has ridden on it before they could walk. Aza and I has caught a lot of poachers in Bryans Forest Nature Reserve in the past, even those on motorized vehicles.
The black horses to the right are my wife’s horses. The one in the middle is Orlik; he grew up in a half-wild herd, and after I bought him, he would frequently run away, back to his brothers and sisters. Later on, Orlik and Aza had a daughter, Zorka. She is to the right on this picture, all black with a white spot on her forehead. A very stubborn horse… But after she was born, Orlik realized that this is his home and never escaped again.
Now the life is very different. Almost any car can drive though a forest road that leads to my village. Therefore the horses are not being used so often. Moreover I got “infected” with Kamchatka “virus” and I am often far from my home on lengthy expeditions. It is a pity that I cannot take my horses with me to Kamchatka, they would be so much more useful there… Instead, they are just living as in retirement over here, in my village. And I am thinking, as I am preparing for my new expedition, how to organize their safe and comfort life when I am away…
And this a view from my window, I just took this picture. Wild boar is chasing my beloved dog. She first tried to chase him away from the property, but he is stronger. The boar is interested in grains that I leave on the ground for birds; at first he was only coming at night, but today he showed up in the middle of the day. Maybe I should organize photo-safary tours to photograph this abundant wildlife in my backyard?
And this is Nika, my best present in 2012. My wife and I took her from animal shelter last year and she immediately became a best game buddy to my children and best friend to all other members of the family, including the goat and roster that I told you about in this post:

We do not know who was Nika's previous owner, but her behavior indicates that she could have been a rescue dog. She is obviously guarding my children when they swim and tries to pull them to the shore whenever they start splashing or diving on the water.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Superior mirage?

Sometimes Kamchatka air becomes very clear and it is possible to see very far. Several times I have seen these distant mountains at the very edge of the horizon as if they appear behind the Pacific ocean. This photo is taken with a powerful 500mm lens. I am still not sure what did I photograph...

Abandoned settlement "Kronoki".

In winter.

And in fall.

In the middle of last century this town was very busy. There was seismological base here, military base, Kronotsky Nature reserve station. Many expeditions have started from here. The buildings have extended for a mile and a half along the coast line. Nowadays only ranger and weather station are active, the rest is abandoned. The Nature reigns here, and humans are only present to observe.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Nikolay Shpilenok, my brother.

I have two younger brothers. Both of them are wildlife enthusiasts. Dmitry is specializing on wildlife films (here are his chanels: and, and Nikolay is a wildlife photographer. Dmitry and I often work far away from our homes. Nikolay is very different. Assignments with "GEO" and "Around the World" magazines took him to exotic and distant countries, but he did not get into it.

Him main focus is Bryansky forest where we grew up. He started photographing here while still in high school. Interestingly, that originally he was trying to cover the whole forest, then, he concentrated within the radius of 30 miles around his home, and now he says that he has plenty of interesting topics to work on within a mile around his porch. He almost never takes pictures of animals that are so popular among other wildlife photographers, such as bisons, bears, foxes, wild boars and eagles. But Nikolay can spend months and months on photographing hedgehogs or mosquitos. He also takes pictures of local village people and village life.

Nikolay lives almost reclusive in his a forest cabin. He rarely (but very sucessfully) participates in photo competitions and exhibitions. Recently, mobile internet has finally reached his home, and Nikonay started his photo site with his unique photo-stories. There are only about ten of them published now, but this is only the beginning.

You are welcome to visit Nikolay Shpilenok photo site here:

Originally posted at

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kamchatka February dreams...

The trees on this picture are Erman's birch trees. Below is a close up picture of them from Kurile Nature Reserve, and also, using the tag Erman's birch you can read my other stories of this amazingly beautiful tree, my favorite tree.

And below are more views of Kamchatka peninsula...

... and Pacific ocean in February...


Friday, February 15, 2013

Bear moments.

These are just seconds recorded from the bear family life on one of the river crossing in South Kamchatka Sanctuary (Southern Kamchatka Wildlife Refuge).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cosmo from Kronotsky Nature Reserve.

I was looking through my archives in search of photos for my new photo-book and came across these photos of Cosmo (Кузя in Russian) from 2007. At that time he was much younger and playful than when I last saw him, during my wintering in Kronotsky Nature Reserve in 2010-2011. This is one of the stories from that period:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mr. Fox and his reflection.

This is one of my fox-neighbors running along the banks of Kronotskaya River in Kronotsky Nature Reserve in Kamchatka. I took this photo during my long wintering in a remote ranger station there in 2010-2011.

The Kronotskaya river very rarely freezes at winter due being spring fed. This a photo taken by my middle son, Petr couple of weeks before the photo above.

Animals remember the summer salmon runs in this river, and keep frequently checking for fish...

But there is no fish here at this time of year!

Originally posted at:

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