Natural Habitat Adventures Tundra Lodge is positioned perfectly in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (CWMA) for the October/November polar bear season in Churchill. This prime location of the Great White Bear managed lodge is located in an area where polar bears migrate to and from a peninsula that juts into the Hudson Bay. Polar bears amble into the lodge area and often set up resting beds in the willows that surround the lodge. We can’t wait to see the wildlife action out there this season. Enjoy!
The exciting news from Churchill is polar bears have been spotted out at the Tundra Lodge in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (CWMA) and they are becoming more active as the season begins here. The first Natural Habitat Adventures group at the lodge guided by Colby and Eric came quite close to a big male bear out by first tower as their group explored away from the base lodge on a rover. A few others lounged around the lodge moving about the willows.
More exciting news from polar bear season Churchill is there are still at least 30 – 40 beluga whales still lingering around the mouth of the Churchill River and along the coast in the Hudson Bay. Some travelers took a helicopter journey and spotted the beluga pods below..what a sight for this late in the fall! I imagine there will be some more time for beluga’s here though soon they will depart for the Hudson Straits up north.
Other sightings by our friends at Polar Bears International (PBI) included numerous black foxes- a color morph of the red fox – as well as traditional colored red foxes. A couple of Arctic fox have been spotted as well. Ptarmigan, Arctic hares and numerous bird species have also filled out the wildlife sightings for travelers over the past week. PBI travelers also were surprised by a large moose galloping along the tundra between ponds out in the CWMA!
Northern lights made an appearance on a couple of nights and were some of the best since last aurora season in February. Greens and pinks shimmered across the tundra in the darkened sky of the CWMA.
Perhaps the most incredible sighting was also by the PBI group. They witnessed a Peregrine falcon feeding on a gull on the fringe of the willows. They observed the web of nature and the life-cycles of these hearty creatures firsthand!
We are only in the first full week of polar bear season and already are witnessing surprises from every area out on the tundra!
Polar bear season in Churchill is officially underway as groups of travelers with Natural Habitat Adventures are returning from the Tundra Lodge out deep in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (CWMA). We should be getting some detailed field reports in from that groups guides Eric Rock and Colby Brokvist over the weekend. Other groups are arriving in Churchill as well and soon the news will come fast and furious. Polar bears will start to move with more urgency as the season gets going and the snow comes along with cooling air from the north. Stay tuned for posts from the sub -Arctic!
Polar bear season has finally arrived and the season will kick off tomorrow with the initial group of Natural Habitat Adventures travelers arriving in Churchill and heading out to the Tundra Lodge. The lodge is a train – like grouping of rover style cars connected together to form an incredibly comfortable space to view majestic polar bears and other Arctic wildlife in a serene setting on the open tundra of the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. (CWMA) Nighttime provides a dark environment for viewing northern lights off the open balcony decks.
Although Churchill has not experienced snow yet this season, it has not deterred polar bears from roaming the tundra and boreal forest. The polar bear below was photographed out by the Aurora Domes just yesterday by Churchill resident Claude Daudet. What a beautiful, clean polar bear to initiate the 2016 season. As you can see, a typical animal this time of year is thinner and awaiting the ice to form on the Hudson Bay. This juvenile seems to be in pretty good shape as he awaits the freeze-over that will allow the seal hunting season will commence.
After one of the most spectacular northern lights season’s last January and March, Churchill was blessed with one of the best Churchill Arctic summer season’s in recent history as well. We have not had reports of beluga whales lingering in the Churchill River or Hudson Bay like last year though there might be a few stragglers braving the late season.
Some of the nights in polar bear season offer the right conditions for viewing northern lights. There can be many overcast nights since the Hudson Bay remains usually ice – free through October and into November. Moisture rises and creates the cloud cover though occasionally a breeze will clear the skies for some epic aurora moments…especially mid November when temperatures are falling. We are looking forward to some amazing nights that produce some more other-worldly images above the Hudson Bay!
Stay posted for all the news from Churchill, the polar bear capital of the world! Whether it be sparring polar bears, an exciting bear lift from just outside town or the thrill of eyeing a polar bear just an arm’s length away on a polar rover, churchillpolarbears.org will provide daily updates and photos throughout the season. Pass the blog site link along to a friend so they can share in all the action!
by Michelle Viengkone
Some of us practice mindfulness, while others run free-throw drills or perfect our soufflés. Nonetheless, patience is required for the task at hand and if I may add, most generously so, towards ourselves.Polar bears could teach us some lessons.
Having spent time on the tundra, what continues to strike me most has been the patience that polar bears demonstrate when waiting for the ice to form. The bears that we are fortunate enough to observe are a part of the Western Hudson Bay sub-population. These bears are forced ashore during the summer months because the Hudson Bay undergoes seasonal ice break-up. By the time November strolls along, these polar bears have already been fasting for 5 months and it is not surprising that they can be more than a little “hangry”.
The male polar bear pictured waits patiently at the base of the spit in front of the Tundra Lodge watching the ice slowly build up. Restless, he may engage in some sparring with other males to pass the time. Swatting, pushing, and lunging are all in good fun on land. But it is also not uncommon to see bears lounging around within the willows or digging shallow beds along the coast awaiting their chance to take their first steps onto ice to catch their next meal. As the bears keep an eye on the Bay and forming sea ice, we as wildlife enthusiasts must be on the lookout for the bears; eyes peeled for a yellowish rock-like critter. This can be a challenging task as we bounce along on the rover with blowing snow impairing our line of sight. However, good things come to those who wait.
The sight of one’s first polar bear is magical. I have been lucky to witness these moments play out as travelers eyes light up with excitement peering from the rover. I have overheard the sing-song chatter remarking about the size and beauty of this iconic Arctic animal. I have given gentle reminders to pause the snapping of photos and have encouraged the simple act of watching the bear in that moment. Sometimes we rush through things – I know I have – paying little attention to the details, getting muddled or bogged down. Advice from one wildlife enthusiast to another: slow it down, and soak it in. Make like a polar bear and be patient, the Arctic may surprise you.