We hope you all enjoy our first guest blog report from Churchill and Natural Habitat Adventures guide Moira Le Patourel. Her group of travelers experienced a classic and exciting week in Churchill and the photos and report below give a feel of the adventure experienced!
“The first trip of the summer is always an exciting one in Churchill. Vast Ice floes are visible out in the bay, seemingly close to shore, but just slightly too far away to use the spotting scope to search for polar bears still out on the ice. Bears had already been spotted close to town and our first group of the summer was lucky enough to spot a resting polar bear on the beach, while out on the tundra on their first evening in Churchill.
Things were in full bloom on the tundra in a spectacular array of colours; snow-white from the White Mountain Avens, with their buttercup-yellow center, a carpet of brilliant green from the Sea Purslane, and a vibrant mat of magenta from the Purple Hedysarum. It was certainly a feast for the eyes!
Sea pursalane inhabits the beach areas in Churchill. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Beluga sightings were excellent throughout the trip, with several young calves spotted swimming with their mothers. During our final morning on the zodiacs, the river was all a-splash with beluga activity – pods of feeding-frenzied belugas, young and old, cavorted around the boats in pursuit of their fast-moving prey – capelin. Arctic terns plummeted into the water from the surface, with the white whales pushing the capelin up from below. Quite the sight to behold!
Beluga whales in the Churchill River with excited Nat Hab travelers. Moira Le Patourel photo.
A visit with local sled dogs and their owner was an interesting way for our visitors to learn about what life is like for a musher and his team in the remote sub-Arctic town of Churchill. With the train to Churchill not running at the moment, the logistics have become more complicated over the past month, and the cost of living has significantly gone up for the residents of Churchill. Our group learned about what those changes meant for mushers and dog teams in the area.
Churchill sled dogs are alaways a popular attraction. Moira Le Patourel photo.
Walks in both tundra and taiga habitat allowed us to spot many different bird species; some of the favourites were nesting/dive-bombing Arctic terns, red-necked phalaropes, lesser yellowlegs, Pacific loons and tundra swans with young. Churchill certainly is the place to be in the summer, especially for those visitors in search of feathered friends. Many guests on this trip were able to add several species to their life lists.
Many laughs, smiles, hugs and songs (you can’t leave without singing Baby Beluga at least once!) were shared by all for our first adventure in Churchill this summer. Looking forward to what the coming days will bring!”
A short video clip by National Geographic documenting springtime for beluga whales in the north. Belugas migrate south in the spring from the Hudson Straits to the estuaries of the Hudson Bay. Thousands of belugas make the trip to the warmer waters and shallow, gravelly rivers to give birth, nurture young and gorge on capelin and other plentiful marine organisms. There’s no other time like spring and summer in the Churchill region. Life is bursting from the tundra and the sea and rivers. What an amazing time to experience the northern web of life…Arctic style!
This outstanding underwater shot was taken by wildlife photographer Douglas Kahle in Churchill while snorkeling with hundreds of beluga whales. We have not seen many photos capturing air bubbles coming from the beluga’s blow hole. Beluga Whales are extremely curious toward humans underwater, allowing for these up-close photo opportunities and wildlife experiences of a lifetime. Fantastic shot!
A beluga whale blowing excess air in the Churchill River. Douglas Kahle photo.
Natural Habitat Adventure’s Churchill Arctic summer trips are winding down and guide Moira LaPatourel submitted these images from the last trip. Looks like a group of happy travelers experienced all kinds of northern fun in Churchill! While polar bear activity has calmed down some from a couple of weeks ago, the tundra still reveals all the treasures of late summer as berries and other wildflowers are squeezing all they can out of the short growth season. Beluga whales in record high numbers have been all throughout the estuaries this summer. Last year some belugas were still present at the start of polar bear season in October and by the looks of this summer we may have a repeat of that this year.
This has been one of the most successful Churchill Arctic summer seasons on record with bears and belugas in prolific numbers. With all the supporting scenery and wildlife, this Churchill Arctic summer will be etched in many traveler’s memories!
The stark coastline of the Hudson Bay in the distance. Moira LaPatourel photo.
A Natural Habitat group bonfire behind the town complex by the Hudson Bay. Nothing like a nice wine and cheese gathering to bond a group together. Moira LaPatourel photo.
The hard – to – find Samuel Hearne etching along the Cape Merry path. Moira LaPatourel photo.
Beluga whales frolicking in the Churchill River. Moira LaPatourel photo.
The amazing polar rover escorts Natural Habitat groups out to the coast in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. Moira LaPatourel photo.