In and Around The Tundra and Town Of Churchill
Natural Habitat outdoor Adventure guide Colby Brokvist calls NatHab’s Town and Tundra Adventure tour the “Ultimate Trip”! Encompassing both ends of the region’s diverse spectrum, travelers to Churchill see it all. Wildlife and culture…sometimes the two even blend together in the frontier town on the Hudson Bay.
“We had a great time being immersed in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area, which is the best part of the lodge trips. And, we had plenty of time in town to learn about the area’s culture and history” states Colby. Out at the Tundra Lodge the late day action was heated. “This week, the best sparring took place in the evenings once the town groups had gone in, a real treat for us.” reported Colby. The group finally had to sit for a late dinner after watching the bears for about 45 minutes. The polar bears continued to put on a tremendous show while the group took it all in through the windows while enjoying a gourmet meal and a glass of wine.
The group also had some stellar bird sightings including four Snowy Owls and two Gyrfalcons- one of each color phase. “The white-phase Gyrfalcon did a close fly-by of our rover deck and it was easy to see why this is North America’s largest true falcon!”, wrote colby. Several sightings of arctic hare filled out the Arctic wildlife checklist.
In town, their luck continued with Arctic foxes out at Cape Merry, along with another Arctic hare and red fox. “One of my favorite parts of the early-season trips is getting on the ground out at the cape and exploring. Devoid of the snow and ice of late-season trips, we were able to find and sample dry-ground cranberries and crowberries”, stated Colby. The group learned about the importance of the colorful moss and lichen micro-communities and picked the cotton-like seeds from shrub willows, used by local Inuit as oil lamp wicks.
Another highlight was finding a recently killed Canada Goose, perhaps a red fox kill. Among the remains was a leg-band that indicated this bird was part of a research study. The group turned in the band to Parks Canada so that they could add the find into the research database. “We’re hoping to hear more from them about the life and times of that goose”, reported Colby.
Topping off the trip was a visit to the Polar Bear Compound, where 10 polar bears are currently incarcerated, to view a bear lift of a small adolescent bear. Another lift just yesterday transported a sow and two cubs about 40 kilometers north. Check out this video of yesterday’s airlift!
Shipping news: At the port, the 14th ship of the season left a few days ago and two more are expected before the pack ice begins to clog up the routes in the Hudson Bay for the winter.