The past week in Churchill has seen dropping temperatures..currently just 12degrees F…and snow accumulations across the tundra. The gray of the clouds and white blanket of snow across the tundra covered the reds and yellows of the land..buried until Spring.
Guide Karen Walker and her travelers were out again on the land in the CWMA when they came upon an Explore.org rover with crew filming video. As Karen’s group arrived, Explore.org departed and the polar bear they had been filming became curious and approached the rover. A sub-adult female with a “beautiful face”, according to Karen, she moved to a position right under the back deck. The bear spent quite a bit of time under the deck sniffing many boots and laid down next to the rover as lunch was served….to the people that is..not the bear.
In the meantime, a very dark, nearly black cross fox made a brief appearance gliding through the blowing mist of snow….then vanished. The young, female polar bear moved off and another bear popped out of the willows. Perhaps attracted by the delicious -smelling soup, he had his nose up in the air searching for the scent -trail. finally he bee-lined right to their rover. Standing against the rover and peered in at the soup-slurping humans…what an amazing experience…probably for the bear too…would’ve been better if he got some soup I suppose. As the rover motored back toward launch, a glowing -red fox appeared nearby.
A red fox in the grasses stands out in the first snow of the season. Brad Josephs photo
Karen and travelers were guided on tour around Churchill Friday. Rhonda, local tour guide and Churchill Summer guide gave a complete overview of Churchill’s history and culture peppered with ample funny stories. It was a very blustery day, with roughly 50km winds. “My gung-ho group all bundled up and went for a view at Cape Merry. The Parks Canada rangers, Duane & Dave, were amazed that the whole group went out in that Arctic weather. ” mused Karen. The freezing rain was freezing on jackets and the bus windows, so we had to constantly scrape them off. The waves were crashing along the shore of Hudson Bay. All these effects gave a good sense of northern living. …quite harsh.
“We toured the port & the Town Complex. A high school volleyball tournament was going on with the kids from down the rail line, so it was busy around the complex & restaurants. We visited the Polar Bear Holding Facility on our way out of town for our night rover. ” added Karen.
On Saturday, some guests went on a helicopter journey over the tundra in the CWMA and Wapusk National Parc and had excellent moose and several polar bear sightings. The overview of the land is simply incredible with scattered thermakarsts and patterned ground. I highly recommend a tour through Hudson Bay Helicopters to round out a complete perception of the geography. Seeing wildlife from that vantage point also will be a lasting memory.
Later in the morning the group went out to the marina and observation tower for a beautiful view of the river. Winter has set in, and freezing rain had an adverse effect on the electrical lines, forcing the town’s power out for a few minutes at 1pm, so the group had to hurry to an earlier lunch, in order to get their orders in while the Seaport’s kitchen still had lights. One of the small foibles that gives the remote town of Churchill its’ character.