On a warmer day in the Churchill region, the snow on the tundra was getting sparse and polar bear movement was more hit and miss, depending on location of rovers. Bears do not move around too much when the mercury gets close to 40f…what seems still cool to us is quite warm to those animals with thick fur covered bodies. Cooler temperatures are predicted and the possibility of snow in the next day or so is increasing. Quite a contrast to the three major storms that hit Churchill by this time last year. There is no regularity to weather patterns it seems these days.

Churchill polar bear.

Photo: Paul Brown

The tundra lodge area  is still the place where bears tend to congregate. Guide Bonnie and colby had numerous sightings of sparring bears and it seems there are some heavyweights that have moved into the vicinity. The action was a little slower’ with many lounging or sleeping bears, but a number of rovers lingered in the area, even though bears were still scattered around the coastal areas. However, if too many vehicles come to one spot, it can diminish the feeling of being on the vast sub-arctic tundra. So, observing for awhile , then moving on to other areas usually is the norm. Often the move to another place in the CWMA can provide an incredible surprise sighting, and other times just the rough ,wild landscape is all that’s found. Either way, being on the tundra on the coast of the Hudson Bay evokes feelings of awe brought on by exploring pristine wilderness searching for wildlife.

Guide Bonnie had her group searching for any signs of bird life out near Gordon point and came upon a glaucous gull, seven black guillemots, and seven king common eiders. The search continues for the elusive snowy owl. Two years ago ,I believe it was, there seemed to be a snowy owl on every spruce tree on the tundra as well as each hydro Manitoba pole lining the road out of town. Everything seems to go in cycles in the North. I do know if there was a snowy owl in the area, Bonnie would spot it.

Travelers with guide Paul had a “good day” being fortunate to have numerous bear encounters throughout the day. Even though the general bear activity is slow right now, the group had a few males walking very close to their rover as they situated themselves near the lodge. this strategy of spending a good part of the day near the lodge paid off as bears moved around from time to time.

Later on the rover pushed out to Christmas Lake esker, an old rise of deposited rocks and organic debris deposited by under-ice glacial water flow, and came across a healthy flock of rock ptarmigan. Making their way, near the end of the day, to Halfway Point, a very memorable, beautiful male polar bear came out of the rocks as if to send the group off with an arctic farewell. The gorgeous clean white fur absorbed the glowing pinks of the sunset to the West shimmering off the flat water of the Hudson Bay. Sometimes a perfect ending to a trip happens for travelers and this was surely that.

Churchill polar bear.

Photo: Colby Brokvist

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