And a happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all! With the Holiday upon us, all of Churchill was relatively quiet throughout the day. Churchillians take their holidays seriously…. especially when the main focus is food and family. Breezy winds circulated over the Tundra and Hudson bay with blue skies overhead. Waves lapped gently at the Precambrian shield that surrounds Churchill on its’ coast and encases the town itself like a timeless fossil.
Few bears were reported sighted in the area. At this time, four remain detained in the Quansett hut compound near the airport. Natural Habitat’s first two groups of travelers arrived via chartered Nolinor Aviation from Winnipeg. Guides Melissa and Sandra kicked off the new season with an excursion down Goose Creek Road to the Churchill River weir area. They reported high water levels in the River and Goose Creek watershed contrary to the Summer levels. Heavy rains recently in the South have contributed to the influx. No Belugas left, however, to bask in the higher levels…all headed back to their Northern home waters.
While out on the coastal road the eager contingents took in their fill of flocks of reliable Snow Buntings fluttering around the muskeg. Then the first major sighting of the season occurred overhead. A sentinel Bald eagle soared the updrafts just above the groups as they meandered along the dirt road that traces the coastline of the Hudson Bay. All aboard were thrilled with the Arctic welcoming.
The afternoon also provided time for the travelers to embark on a dog-sledding tour through the willows and hummocks just outside town under the calm guidance of Kelly Turcotte and Robert McDonald with Churchill River Mushing. Although the snow has not come yet, the custom wheeled dog “sleds” cruised smoothly along the trail as the huskies panted and yipped with joy. A surprisingly enjoyable ride for all.
In the days to come, Polar bears will take center stage. For now just the panorama of the tundra in its’ lingering Fall colors of red, yellow and ambers and the majestic avian creatures in the sky furnish all the travelers’ needs.