Churchill Polar Bear Season Excites

These outstanding images from Churchill come from Natural Habitat Adventures guide Brad Josephs. His amazing photography skills bring us the current feel of the tundra with the fresh snow cover. It’s snowing today as well in the region so we should expect more fantastic winter scenes to come. Polar bear season has been filled with incredible wildlife sightings so far. Foxes have been seen all over the tundra and a large number of mother’s and cubs have been appearing over the last week. More to come as the week progresses! Enjoy.

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Curious and beautiful red fox. Brad Josephs photo.

polar bears churchill

Weary mother and cubs on the tundra. Brad Josephs photo.

Snowy churchill silver fox

Silver fox scampering through the snowy tundra. Brad Josephs photo.

polar bear and polar rover

Polar bear investigates the humans on a polar rover. Brad Josephs photo.

gyrfalcon in Churchill

Gyrfalcon rests on the snowy tundra. Brad Josephs photo.

polar bear in Churchill

Polar bear winks at the travelers on a rover. Brad Josephs photo.

Churchill Video of the Week – Beluga Habitat

Beluga whale estuaries in the Hudson Bay are being studied for their thriving ecosystems. Biologists are focusing on whale populations that are healthy and the factors that contribute to their success. These factors have overlapping effects and allow for healthy populations of other species in the area. Polar bears, Arctic birds, fish, foxes and other land and sea animals thrive when an ecosystem enjoys favorable balance.

This video from Seal River, just north along the coast from Churchill, shows a quite similar ecosystem to Churchill. Enjoy the beautiful footage and insightful views from the various biologists working in the area. Nice to hear some good news about the Arctic these days!

Polar bear mother and cub video

Some nice video from late polar bear season of a sow and cub near the Tundra lodge. Hudson Bay ice moved in around mid November aiding in thinning out the congregation of bears in the Churchill region. Another wave of bears came through after with a good concentration of mother’s with cubs. Overall the season provided incredible displays from polar bears, lots of sparring, and foxes everywhere. Bird life was plentiful and seal kills were discovered from time out on the coastline. With winter closing in fast now, current temp is -9 F, most of the action is slowing down.  Polar bears are on ice and the town is back to normal, “tundra time.” Keep an eye out for more video and news from the north coming your way.

Notes from the tundra

News from the Tundra Lodge came early with a “house bear” as Natural Habitat guide Leah McGowan dubbed him. The lone polar bear set up shop immediately and slept the first week away with periodic displays of energy spurred on possibly from wafting gourmet scents from the kitchen car. He was promptly named ‘Frances’ after a guests daughters cuddly childhood polar bear, of the same name.

Arctic fox inquisitive of travelers. Colby Brokvist photo.

Arctic fox inquisitive of travelers. Colby Brokvist photo.

The bear is a mature male with several scars on his nose and another scar above his right eye. He is lean, though not skinny. He seems like an ‘old soul’ wise and patient…. looking up at you with knowing eyes.

By night three for the inaugural lodge group, four, maybe five bears in addition to Frances had wandered into the area. All seemed to be getting along just fine after a few “discussions” on personal space.
Churchill polar bear in willows.

Photo: Colby Brokvist

The tundra still sporting browns and reds awaits the snow soon to come from the north.

Guide Colby Brokvist reporting from Winnipeg after a “wonderful” early season trip gave rave reviews of all facets of his groups’ adventure. A tri -fecta of foxes graced the travelers presence with red, Arctic and even a rare silver sighting. Out at the lodge there have been at least two a night on a steady basis.

Silver fox scouring tundra for lemmings. Colby Brokvist photo

Silver fox scouring tundra for lemmings. Colby Brokvist photo

Truly the highlight of this past week’s wildlife log was a pair of beluga whales just off the rocky coast of Cape Merry. Amazing to spot these babies this late in the season. Imagine being able to combine summer trips with polar bear season? You could get it all at once. Give global warming some time it might happen.

Gordon Point provided some fine entertainment one day with a ringed seal swimming teasingly at a risky distance from white furred bears. Where else on the planet can you find that kind of drama?

Bird-wise…a list of 23 deep included harlequin ducks and a gyrfalcon….both rare for early season trips. So far an off year for snowy owls..still time though. The air has transitioned to the next level of cold which shall digress another 10 notches before the Hudson Bay Quest arrives in March. Cold enough though for most shallow thermakarst ponds to have a healthy icy veil on their surface….not quite strong enough to support an 800 pound animal.

The “port report” …still oil free..has two ships in port and two anchored out at five -fathom hole in the Hudson Bay. Workers are banking overtime hours trying to beat mother nature before she freezes over the Hudson Straits in the far northeast corner of the bay, sealing off the escape route for outgoing vessels. A long winter awaits.

 

 

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