Polar bear under the Tundra Lodge. Moira Le Patourel photo.
This is the time when the polar bear season is a double-edged sword in that the polar bear numbers are building and so is the ice that could allow them to disperse overnight. However, this time is also one to rejoice in with the uncanny wildlife around the tundra.
Nt Hab’s Brad Joseph’s group had some incredible wildlife sightings during their trip. A first-year male great gray owl at Gordon point was a memorable sighting. Out around the Tundra Lodge, there were eight polar bears paired off and sparring in optimal 0-degree weather. This is the first report this season of numerous bears around the lodge actively engaged in mock fights. Pretty exciting and a reunion of sorts for the travelers on rovers and at the lodge!
After enjoying a sunset across the Churchill River at the flats just northwest of town, the group also was blessed with aurora borealis on their second night in Churchill. Nearly as spectacular to this particular group of travelers was the fantastic newly painted murals around town by the Sea Walls project. The murals brighten up the town, which can start to become grey this time of year, as much in the daytime as northern lights do at night.
Two other pretty awesome sights for this group were seeing a good size caribou herd of around a 100 animals south of Churchill. Tracks covered the ground all over the area. Some of those tracks were discovered to be from a Wolverine making a cameo appearance. Some longtime locals reported having not seen one for 20 years or more.
Polar bear males sparring on the tundra. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Moira Le Patourel’s group enjoyed good weather for the duration of their trip with a snowy backdrop and a mix of a few overcast days and a few with incredible sun and one extreme cold weather day (-21 degrees Celsius) Numerous polar bear sightings surely made up for the cold, including a mother with two cubs of the year, a mother with one cub of the year, as well as many adult males.
Churchill’s 2016 polar bear season is winding down fro some Natural Habitat Adventures guides. Moira Le Patourel is finishing up her amazing season in Churchill tomorrow and we wish her well. Polar bear season for others is continuing for another week however and we will be bringing you all the news. Sunday will feature all the latest news and photos from the tundra. Check in and see the updates tomorrow!
Guide Moira and Churchill staff. Moira Le Patourel photo.
A snowy tundra was the perfect setting for an Arctic fox greeting Natural Habitat Adventures guide Moira Le Patourel and her group of travelers. As snow fluttered to the ground the inquisitive fox seemed indifferent to the rover’s presence. What beautiful colors melding together in an Arctic landscape!
Arctic fox surveying the land fast ice along the Hudson Bay. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Caught between the search for lemmings and waiting for the Hudson Bay freeze, this gorgeous fox will patiently wait for the latter in order to feed off the left -overs of polar bear seal kills. A fascinating existence for sure. Polar bear season in Churchill reveals the subtleties of survival in the far north.
Arctic fox waiting out the eventual freezing of the Hudson Bay. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Later, out on the tundra of the Churchill Wildlife Management Area, a sow with two cubs of the year (coy) revealed themselves on the horizon and explored the ground close to the polar rover. The three moved confidently across the thermokarst landscape while circling the group observing from the rover. Purely incredible to witness these polar bears in their natural environment.
Sow and two coy wandering the Hudson Bay coast near Churchill. Moira Le Patourel photo.
The persistent unseasonable moderate temperatures have polar bears resting and conserving energy for the most part though we are still seeing magical behavior across the tundra. Surely the snow and cold will escalate and we will see more sparring in the coming weeks. Until then we are not complaining about the number of family interactions so far this year as well as the variety of other wildlife sightings.
Resting polar bear by a stand of willows. Moira Le Patourel photo.
The group was charmed with a first – night orientation of some fantastic northern lights which they took in down by the large inukshuk behind the town complex. What a display squeezed in between the clouds and snow squalls.
One of the best spots in Churchill to capture the magical northern lights. Moira Le Patourel photo.
The following day Moira brought her travelers back for an iconic group photo from the head of the Hudson Bay. If the incredible aurora displays this polar bear season are any indication, we are in for quite a northern lights season in January through March.
Natural Habitat group photo at the Churchill inukshuk. Moira Le Patourel photo.
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.