A glimpse of Winter unveiled itself in Churchill today. Sideways blowing snow squalls sailed through Churchill in the morning and gave way to an overcast sky and cool air. The Hudson Bay, not to be outdone, reared up from its’ shallows and hammered foamy breakers against the rocks polished long before Franklin’s time. Still missing.
Guide Elise had her travelers out at Halfway Point in time to observe a majestic male polar bear sleeping amid the rocks leeward to the wind. Northern gusts ripped at the rover and the surrounding tundra. After a good while, as the group observed the animal from about 60 meters away, he suddenly rose and slowly moved to the top of the embedded rocky ledge and gazed out over the Hudson Bay. This moment was by far worth all the effort of searching the CWMA …..truly a majestic sight.
Meanwhile, guide Sandra and travelers observed bears between Gordon Point and farther up the coast road along Ptarmigan Alley. While out in that vicinity the group had the thrill of a male polar bear walking right past the rover, lingering for a while, then moving to a spot out of the wind where he reclined and used a rock as a pillow. All that goose down around and you can’t even use it…ouch.
Countless willow ptarmigan, snow buntings, and ravens dotted the tundra between launch and the lodge on both legs of the journey.
Guide Melissa’s group explored the area around Churchill in the day and then headed out for an evening rover excursion. The day provided prime viewing of a sow and two cubs out in a clearing near the recycle center (L5). Another solitary Male polar bear was sighted in the willows shortly after near Akudlik Marsh area not far from the family group. On the other side of town in the small ponds in front of the grain elevator, Melissa reported huge numbers of Canada (remember, they are not residents) geese, gadwalls and mallards positioning to fly south. With the location of the grain being loaded into the ships just on the other side of the elevator, I’m sure the temptation to stow -away in a vessel’s hold has crossed every one of those suspicious -looking birds minds. The last time I was in Burma I swear I saw a couple of obese mallards walking down the street.
Speaking of ships, there is currently a ship with a Finnish flag loading at the dock with three others moored offshore in the bay. Word is that seven more are left to fill their holds this season….while the bay stays clear of ice. More shipping news to come.
The first polar bear lift of the season saw a mother and cub netted up and flown North to safe haven. Today a sow with her two cubs took their spot in the “Polar Bear Holding Facility” as the spiffy new blue sign reads. In fact many improvements have been made to the quansett hut compound; namely both ends having been refaced with shiny new corrugated metal sheeting….arctic chic! All the wheeled culvert bear-traps have been upgraded with silver paint for the culverts and dark, rich red for the metal frameworks….hey those pesky bears gotta look good when they go in the big house.