Temperatures fluctuated between 20F and 27F in the Churchill region. It seems Indian Summer has some staying power here in a time that can be much colder with gale force winds. Both those conditions have been infrequent to date. The sea ice remains distant in the Hudson Bay while very minimal land -fast ice has materialized thus far. Our groups will be gone before the bears are this season.
Out at the Tundra Lodge three sets of sows and cubs continue to mill around the living quarters. Two mothers each with two cubs and one mother with one cub caught the eyes of all as they meandered in and out of willows and underneath the lodge. Meanwhile sparring males, also at the lodge, allowed for an interesting dichotomy between their roughhousing and the cuddling and sporadic nursing of the moms and cubs all within one span of vision. At one point during the day there were three sets of male sparring at the same time. While the bears were surely the marquee act on the tundra stage, an Arctic Fox also appeared twice during the day…once at dawn and again at dusk. Another thrill for the people on the lodge with Guide’s Rinnie and Leah was seeing a Snowy owl hanging around along the coastal road. And they all will not soon forget the three tantalizing nights of aurora borealis activity in a secluded, supremely dark location. Another amazing trip.
Guide Sue and her people enjoyed a perfect morning. The start of the day, near Halfway Point, featured two large males and 2 smaller bears right under the grate of the back deck sniffing soles. Bears have an incredible sense of smell and can pick up a scent from miles away. Their sensory cells must be on overload once they are up close and personal with our travelers. Also at Halfway Point, three big males walked around the rover all within 10 yards. All this action was in the books before 10:00 AM. Out by the lodge a mother with her newborn (or “COY”: Cub of the Year) and another mom and two Coys were frolicking and grouping together for warmth. A number of males were sparring off and on as well while a bear was asleep in the kelp out near the coast.
The day became a little more interesting around two o’clock, between the lodge and Gordon Point, when Sues’ rover became stuck in a shallow pond as the ice gave way. When the driver tried to climb out of the slushy mix, the tire punctured and the group had to endure a tire change. A good story down the road for sure. Later, in the waning light, the group was rewarded for their patience as the stellar sunlight was an exquisite backdrop for an Arctic Fox appearing in the distance. Curiosity got the better of him and he winded his way over to the machine as the group remained perfectly quiet. After spending some time, the creature passed by the side and wandered away disappearing into tundra and sky. Later in the evening, the group capped a fantastic Churchill day by taking in an aurora display out at Cape Merry. With brilliant white stars as a backdrop in the steel black sky, the greenish arc of lights curtained out over the gurgling, vast void of the Hudson Bay.
Guide Jared and crew saw what Jared stated as “the most bears I’ve ever seen at one time”. Seven sets of families, several sparring bouts at the lodge and bears lounging out East were the main events of the day. On the way back in to town, all eyes were treated to several Red fox along the way. Another spectacular day on the tundra.