Here’s an on -site report from Natural Habitat guide Stephanie Fernandez direct from Churchill ,Manitoba…home to some of the most amazing wildlife in the Arctic. So far the summer has been incredible with polar bears all across the tundra. Beluga whales are the highlight of the summer though we have seen bears regularly as well.
“Off we go at the speed of… well, 2 mph. Slowly we enter the world of Churchill’s subarctic tundra where life seems to be at a standstill (except the wind). Shallow ponds dominate the flat landscape. Lichens and miniature plants cover the ground while willow thickets and stands of white spruce add increased dimension to the scenery.
As we continue our journey on-board the Tundra Rover, our eyes constantly catch the movement of the feathered inhabitants of the tundra. We continue on searching for the furred members. Bill (our rover driver) stops as he has spotted a bear. Where we ask? All we see is a cream colored rock where he is pointing to way out in the distance nestled in the many other rocks. It does not move. Off we go.
An hour later we arrive at Half Way Point, at the edge of Hudson Bay, where we park to prepare our rover dinner. Bill still sees “his” bear. We look and look, but it does not move. Between us and the distant “bear”, a single young caribou is roaming freely, grazing.
Hey, look closer! bears! Susan and Emily announce. There they are, a beautiful and healthy sow with her chubby cub of the year. We all watch intently through our binoculars after the initial commotion of the sighting.
They walk slowly in our direction but disappear behind the rocks. We hold our breaths. Mom appears first over the gravel mound with cub in tow. They stop. She is inquisitive about our presence. She sniffs the air for a few moments and nonchalantly continues behind the rocks, down onto the beach, finds a spot on the washed up bed of kelp, and dozes off into a nap. Her cub stretches before cuddling up against her.
We celebrate with a delicious grilled rover dinner!
But wait, what happened to the “bear” that Bill sighted? It actually woke up momentarily, stretched and went back to be being a “rock” bear again.
On the way back to the Rover Launch station, we spot an Arctic fox running ahead of us, perhaps in pursuit a lemming.”