Temperatures are currently just below freezing in Churchill with snow in the forecast next week. winds from the North have been prevalent these past few days and the white stuff will soon be carried in on the gales soon. Meanwhile business as usual continues around Churchill with a good number of polar bears around in some unusual places. Various birds are still being observed as well…many still finding Churchill a hospitable place for this late in the Fall. Soon ,however, the season will turn Winteresque  and another wave of the winged ones will head South.

Churchill polar bear stretched out on pre-cambrian shield.

Colby Brokvist photo.

Polar bears have frequently been observed  around the rocks out at Bird Cove and Halfway Point. It’s interesting how each year some unique characteristic emerges of the particular season’s bear population around Churchill. Bears on rocks have certainly been this season’s surprise. Many years we don’t see more than a handful of bears around Bird Cove, though this year it has been a hotspot.
Guide Colby Brokvist and his group viewed the bear on the pre-cambrian slab above out at Halfway point in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (CWMA). He ascended via rock ledges, but couldn’t figure out how to get down. This image is of him trying to figure out how descend the rock slab.”I see Yosemite black bears cruise this stuff regularly, but this guy couldn’t seem to find his balance.” stated an amused Brokvist.  Finally, he made it down and found a nook in the rocks out of the wind to rest in.
Guide Paul Brown ‘s group has been enjoying the plethora of early-season polar bear encounters on the tundra in the CWMA. They also were very fortunate to see three gyrfalcons while out along the coast. One dark -phase possible juvenile at Halfway point and two white phase, one at Cape Merry and one also at Halfway Point.

White phase gyr falcon.

Paul Brown photo.

Guide Sue Zajac noticed the polar bears she and her group were observing were “more active” than in the previous days. At the tundra lodge, bears were sparring out on the snow-dusted land, preparing for more serious encounters later out on the ice. After spending a good part of the afternoon in that area the rover headed back toward launch and came across a snowy owl near the trail. Earlier they spotted two golden eagles …most likely the pair that had been seen last week also. Mergansers were scuttling around in the last remaining water of the scattered thermakarsts and a glacuous gull patrolled the coastline riding the up drafts.

Churchill polar bears sparring.

Paul Brown photo.

Guide Karen and her Ultimate Churchill group arrived at the airport in Churchill and headed directly to the polar bear holding facility to learn about the capturing process. Culvert bear traps on the grounds are an excellent teaching tool. The group’s trip came  full circle on the last day. A Bear Lift of two siblings from the polar bear compound was an apt send off as the group then went right to the airport for the flight to Winnipeg.  Three other Natural Habitat groups also enjoyed the bear lift. The guests loved the last day.  Prior to the bear lift several guests toured the town complex, and met Boris who has lived in Churchill for 51 years.  His picture is on the wall of the portrait gallery.  He told  a couple of stories of his close encounters with polar bears.  Then, all went dog mushing with Kelly & Ernest, whom the guests enjoyed immensely. A well rounded trip to the far North!

Churchill polar bear lift.

Photo Paul Brown.



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