Churchill Field Notes – Snow and Polar Bears

A fresh snowfall  greeted the first ultimate polar bear trip for Natural Habitat Adventures guide Moira Le Patourel and her group of travelers to Churchill. The fresh, light snow allowed for wildlife track sightings of fox and polar bears and even a lone wolf trail heading into the boreal forest. Typical temperatures for October, hovering around freezing, have allowed for more active polar bear activity on the tundra.

A quite intriguing polar bear interaction a couple of days into the expedition was witnessed by a few groups out in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (CWMA). A large older juvenile, about 3 years – old, was interacting intimately with what appeared to be mom. Polar bear cubs usually spend around two years with their mother

polar bear mother and cub Churchill

Mother polar bear and unusually older cub getting close on the tundra. Moira Le Patourel photo.

Another unique, although more common sighting this season, was a onyx – colored fox, typically referred to as a silver fox scouring the snow covered tundra searching for lemmings below. This blackish and silver mix is a color morph of the common red fox and the contrast on the white covered tundra is striking. No camouflage here like the pure white Arctic fox. This guy won’t be sneaking up on any prey soon.

Red fox in Churchill

A color morph of the red fox, this onyx shaded fox is on the prowl for a meal of some sort. Moira Le Patourel photo.


willow ptarmigan

Willow ptarmigan next to the rover trail in the CWMA. Moira Le Patourel photo.

Other sightings of a traditional colored red fox as well as an Arctic fox completed the trifecta. A grouping of white coated willow ptarmigan were spotted heading into and out of the willows by the rover trail. On another rover trip to the tundra and CWMA the group witnessed a male polar bear with a purplish marking on his white back – end. The bruin most likely had been snoozing in a kelp bed with some purple – hued varieties intertwined. A funny and unusual sight for sure.

Polar bear churchill

Polar bear settling in a kelp bed. Moira Le Patourel photo.

Equally as rare and unusual was a polar bear gnawing on what appeared to be a snow goose wing. A small amount of energy exhausted to gain a few vital grams of protein. Any sustenance between now and the freeze over of the Hudson Bay will be crucial to survival for any polar bear.

polar bear churchill, Manitoba

Polar bear with a gull goose wing watching out cautiously. Moira Le Patourel photo.

Natural Habitat Adventures group

Natural Habitat group of travelers in the CWMA. Moira Le Patourel photo.

Pin It on Pinterest