With the precipitation gone for the time being , the chilly air prevailed under gray skies. A thin layer of snow remains on the tundra..just enough to remind all visitors of the impending Winter.
Out in the CWMA, guide Paul Brown and his first group of travelers were near Halfway Point when they spotted a sleeping bear in the rocks. While watching the big male the group also got a great look at a tundra swan on a small secluded pond surrounded by willows. While viewing the swan through a spotting scope, Paul was able to assist some folks at taking photo’s through the scope to try to use the magnification as a telephoto type lens…this trick often provides excellent results in enlarging animals that cannot be approached at close range.
Later, on their way back to the lodge area, the group cruised by Gordon’s point and got fantastic looks at an arctic hare nestled down in the rocks. Since hares’ hair turns white on its’ internal clock rather than the external weather conditions, the white fur often gives away the animal when snow is not present. I can only imagine the animal feels the same way a human would feel if he or she walked naked in the middle of town.
Paul’s travelers were rewarded in the afternoon when they finally reached the lodge and their polar rover became the object of curiosity of another male polar bear. This gregarious animal walked around and under the back deck of the rover. At times he even stood on his hind legs and leaned onto the rover peering inside at thrilled travelers. Although most of the bears the group sighted during the day were fairly docile, this one was the thrill of a lifetime for most people on board.
Meanwhile the day for guide Eric and travelers was shaping up nicely for wildlife viewing. The group viewed six bears throughout the day including one between ptarmigan alley and the tundra lodge. This bear also came under the buggy and sniffed a folks shoes through the grated back observation deck. Being that close to these massive animals can surely get the blood flowing…..thankfully inside the skin only.
Other high points of the day included spotting a large bull caribou just before the base of Gordon Point near first tower. Eric sighted the animal in the distance while scanning the horizon for polar bears. A nice added bonus indeed!
As the energetic group headed back toward the launch, they noticed the shallow thermakarsts (ponds) were forming rings of ice around their borders. On one of those ponds, a group of pintail ducks was preparing to head South to beat the weather. Nature’s version of a small suburban airport.
Guide Brad’s group also had a fulfilling day on the land. In addition to a good five or six bears, mostly lounging about, they witnessed one of those bruins, a sub-adult male, posing up on the rocks at Halfway Point with the clouds screaming across the sky just above the Hudson Bay beyond him. After, he walked around the rover and headed off into some willows nearby. Down on the coast nearby, they observed a raft of scoters as well. A tundra swan, possibly the same one Guide Eric and crew spotted was still floating around on a nearby thermakarst….content in its’ serenity.
Topping off a banner day..the group was presented with a regal silver fox in and out of willows…at first glance it seemed to be a ptarmigan. Nice surprise.