Churchill is in full swing with polar bears “high and low” as you can see from these recent field image submissions from the region. Moira Le Patourel leading a group of Natural Habitat Adventures travelers had a spectacular time in Churchill. The snow covered tundra provides an Arctic background for the incredible wildlife sightings in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (CWMA). What a trip for this fortunate group.
Polar bears scattered on the tundra of the CWMA were the highlight for sure though a bear lift at the holding compound was an event that is hit or miss for travelers to Churchill. It truly is spectacular to watch polar bears be flown northwest along the coast to a safe haven and released to the wild again. Timing is everything in order to catch one of these awesome spectacles! An incredible, unique experience if you can see it.
Group photo with guide Moira in front of a polar rover! Moira Le Patourel photo.
A polar bear wandering between a couple of polar rovers. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Magnificent polar bear in the snow. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Polar bear family walking a trail in the CWMA. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Polar bear sniffing at the falling snow. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Polar bear family posing for a group shot. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Lift off at the Polar Bear Holding Facility. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Up, up and away in the cargo nets for polar bear family. Moira Le Patourel photo.
While the polar bears on the land and in th air were exciting for all travelers, there was other wildlife to see as well. A regal red fox appeared from the willows to catch the eyes and camera lenses of the group. Ptarmigan as well made an appearance seemingly from out of nowhere. Both species reveal the secrets of the sub – Arctic to all those lucky enough to spot them. Magic seems to happen in Churchill especially during polar bear season!
Red fox emerging from the willows. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Willow ptarmigan on the rover trail in the CWMA. moira Le Patourel photo.
A quite intriguing polar bear interaction a couple of days into the expedition was witnessed by a few groups out in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (CWMA). A large older juvenile, about 3 years – old, was interacting intimately with what appeared to be mom. Polar bear cubs usually spend around two years with their mother
Mother polar bear and unusually older cub getting close on the tundra. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Another unique, although more common sighting this season, was a onyx – colored fox, typically referred to as a silver fox scouring the snow covered tundra searching for lemmings below. This blackish and silver mix is a color morph of the common red fox and the contrast on the white covered tundra is striking. No camouflage here like the pure white Arctic fox. This guy won’t be sneaking up on any prey soon.
A color morph of the red fox, this onyx shaded fox is on the prowl for a meal of some sort. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Willow ptarmigan next to the rover trail in the CWMA. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Other sightings of a traditional colored red fox as well as an Arctic fox completed the trifecta. A grouping of white coated willow ptarmigan were spotted heading into and out of the willows by the rover trail. On another rover trip to the tundra and CWMA the group witnessed a male polar bear with a purplish marking on his white back – end. The bruin most likely had been snoozing in a kelp bed with some purple – hued varieties intertwined. A funny and unusual sight for sure.
Polar bear settling in a kelp bed. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Equally as rare and unusual was a polar bear gnawing on what appeared to be a snow goose wing. A small amount of energy exhausted to gain a few vital grams of protein. Any sustenance between now and the freeze over of the Hudson Bay will be crucial to survival for any polar bear.
Polar bear with a gull goose wing watching out cautiously. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Natural Habitat group of travelers in the CWMA. Moira Le Patourel photo.
These recent photos from Natural Habitat Adventures guide Colby Brokvist are some fantastic polar bear shots out in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. Polar bear activity has been increasing out in the CWMA with the recent seal – kill out at Gordon Point. Sparring at the Tundra Lodge and around the area has continued to peak as well. Northern lights have been exceptional this season and hopes that the trend will continue through the second half. In fact this evening presents incredible viewing potential even down through some of the United States due to solar storms produced through intensified reactions in the Earth’s atmosphere. Lets hope that the sky is clear in Churchill and wherever the lights might be visible!
Polar bear close – up on the tundra. Colby Brokvist photo.
Sparring polar bears in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. Colby Brokvist photo.
Majestic polar bear on a chilly, frosty morning in Churchill. Colby Brokvist photo.
Polar bears in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. Colby Brokvist photo.
With so much happening in Churchill we are posting more amazing photos that Natural Habitat Adventures guides have submitted from some pretty spectacular trips! Aggressive polar bear sparring seems to be the theme thus far as the 2015 polar bear season settles in. Aurora borealis has also been more visible in the northern sky in vivid reds and greens. A recent Tundra Lodge group viewed shimmering ribbons across the ink black sky deep in the CWMA. Last week my son and I experienced the northern lights with a few Natural Habitat groups by the inukshuk behind the town complex. My son’s eyes lit up with wonder as he viewed them over the placid and glimmering Hudson Bay. Priceless memories for sure.
Natural Habitat travelers on the tundra lodge under amazing northern lights. Drew Hamilton photo.
The tundra lodge has enjoyed abundant bear population from the start of the season. Sparring in and out of the willows surrounding the lodge has kept travelers in awe throughout the day. This will be hard to sustain though some new exciting phenomena out in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (CWMA) will surely arise. Every year a new and interesting behavior emerges from the polar bear population in Churchill. A cycle of other species seems to revolve from year to year as well. This season numerous snowy owls have been sighted all over the area. Last season red foxes were all over the tundra and the previous year the Arctic fox population was prolific.Every year is a new adventure!
Polar bears engaging in mock fighting on the tundra in Churchill. Drew Hamilton photo.
Snowy owls have been prolific this polar bear season. Colby Brokvist photo.
Polar bears engaged in some pre sparring jawing. Drew Hamilton photo.
Another great first day for a Natural Habitat Adventures group of travelers lead by guide Drew Hamilton. While heading out to the Churchill Wildlife Management Area they stopped to admire a rough legged hawk when a guest called out from the back of the polar rover “what’s that running across the ice?” An Arctic fox was bounding along the tundra and the group was ecstatic to catch what seems to be a rare sighting this season so far.
This incident was a clear reminder that when searching out wildlife always remember to look behind you as never know what you might miss out on the land.
Polar bears sparring in the CWMA. Drew Hamilton photo.
When their polar rover neared the Tundra lodge, bear activity was already heating up. Large males polar bears were sparring in the willows just off the trail. When there was a break in the action and the males retreated into the willows to cool off, a female polar bear sneaked onto the scene to check out the rover. She seemed a bit nervous due to the presence of all the other bears around and soon departed when the sparring started back up. Quite the action packed scenes amid some drama out on the tundra!
Snowy owl on a rock in the Churchill wildlife Management Area. Drew Hamilton photo.
On the way back to town the travelers were treated to a snowy owl viewing just off the road. A little icing on a fantastic day of wildlife viewing.
Northern lights over the Hudson bay and Churchill inukshuk. Drew Hamilton photo.
In the evening the group had enjoyed a talk by Duane at Parks Canada learning about Pre-dorset art. Leaving the Parks Canada office Drew suggested swinging by the inukshuk at the rear of the town complex to check for northern lights and there they were in all their glory. Travelers spent an hour watching and photographing the aurora capping off an incredible Churchill day.
Natural Habitat Adventures group with the northern lights blazing in the sky. Drew Hamilton photo.