An awesome photograph by Andy Murch of polar bears sparring in the water in Churchill. Guide Alex De Vries – Magnifico lead the group via zodiac to this secret polar bear hangout. After a morning snorkeling with beluga whales in the Churchill River, this was an amazing way to finish off a great day on the water. This summer polar bears have been prolific most of the season with some groups seeing up to 20 bears. This is unusual as some years sightings can be quite scarce. Enjoy!
Natural Habitat Adventures guide Colby Brokvist has experienced quite the polar bear season so far in Churchill! One of his initial groups of travelers witnessed unbelievable sparring sessions on a sunny day close to the Tundra Lodge. The scene became even more intense when the three sparring male polar bears were interrupted by a smaller three year – old female approaching from first tower to the east. One of the males pushed her off into the willows where she laid down for a rest. After the sparring had cooled off she returned and checked out all the polar rovers in the area and gave thrills to all travelers aboard!
Another sparring session that same afternoon matched two huge male polar bears going at it for about 25 minutes. ” I’d thought they would be overheating by now!” Colby expressed to his travelers. Amazing how polar bears can expend so much energy in a time when they are trying to conserve in a big way. It just shows how important this ritual of mock fighting is to the species survival. This year has been filled with outrageous displays..more so then years past.
With a more recent group Colby and driver navigated the rover out to the Tundra Lodge after spotting a sow and her cub close to launch. The morning seemed “quiet” reported Colby so they decided to move inland a bit toward an esker to the east. Just below the esker back toward the Hudson Bay the group sighted another sow and her coy (cub of the year) on the flats with amazing views toward the bay and surrounding lowlands. What a way to spend the late morning..beats an office coffee break by far!
Around lunch, camped in the same spot, patience paid off big time. An adolescent polar bear wandered up to the rover and investigated the rear deck of their polar rover. if one got any closer to a polar bear there would be teeth marks at best. The steel grated deck provides the needed protection here. Nearby a number of sleeping bears worked on conserving the energy spent in morning sparring sessions in the squared tundra.
Later on at Halfway Point the day concluded with a superb 15 minutes observing a rough – legged hawk hunt along the tundra. Not much more of a nature experience then that. All in all an incredible trip in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area!
One of the most exciting aspects of a trip to Churchill is a helicopter flight over the north land. This rare shot of a wolverine was captured by Colby as they flew over the boreal forest. Amazing! And for good measure a polar bear chugging through some land fast ice in the Hudson Bay!
Amidst the magnificent diversity of wildlife viewing this polar bear season, another phenomena has captured the attention of many travelers to the north country. Clearly the highlight of this polar bear season in Churchill has been the fairly consistent northern lights and their multi – colored displays in the northern sky. Polar bear sparring, particularly out around the Tundra Lodge in the Churchill Wildlife management Area, has been steady and exciting over the past couple of weeks. Clear skies have provided the opportunity for northern lights viewing for almost every Natural Habitat Adventures group this season. Incredible night shows!
Over the years, Churchill has revealed some other, less visible wildlife such as moose, wolves, pine martens and perigrine falcons. This image below by Natural Habitat Adventures guide Colby Brokvist of a wolverine is one of the best I’ve ever seen out of Churchill. Colby reported that, “the animal climbed up the tree to try and swat the helicopter out of the air, protecting his ground.” just an amazing shot!
These next few polar bear photos by Natural Habitat guide Drew Hamilton are great shots of the relaxation process polar bears go through during this time of walking hibernation. Polar bears do engage in sparring and active walking and hunting if possible though much of their time during the fall is spent conserving energy in the snow, kelp or willows.
This closing shot by Natural Habitat guide Colby Brokvist is typical of what this season has delivered with regards to incredible aurora borealis. This could be the best season for northern lights we have seen in a decade in Churchill…lets hope it continues for the next few weeks.
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!
“Boxing Day” follows Christmas..usually celebrated on December 26th traditionally to recognize those people who provide services throughout the year such as tradesmen or postal delivery workers. It has nothing to do with boxing…as in fighting …or polar bears sparring.
Anyway, I know this is a stretch, but this weeks photos are “boxing” photos..rather amazing sparring photos of polar bears in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area where incredible bear action occurs in October and November prior to the Hudson Bay freeze up. Enjoy.