These three photos from the far north highlight the vastness and mystery of the Arctic and the smallness of a human within the endless landscape.Solitude and quietness are aspects of this land that endure through the ages. This is what draws so many to this magical place…the feeling of being alone and away from all the distractions of feeling and thought.
Churchill is the gateway to the Arctic with the iconic wildlife symbols of this region in the mighty polar bears and ethereal beluga whales gliding effortlessly through the frigid waters of the Hudson Bay. The empty spaces are highlighted with flashes of other wildlife such as migrating birds and Arctic and Red foxes, insects and boreal chorus frogs all softened with an amazing myriad of wildflowers throughout the short summer season. There truly is no place other like the Arctic and sub – Arctic…another world of treasures to be discovered!
A pair of young red foxes at their den entryway. Katie deMeulles photo.
This classic shot of a pair of red foxes at the opening to a secluded den in Churchill signals the start of spring. It will be interesting to see what bounty of wildlife appears in Churchill this spring and summer after a prolonged and ferocious winter. Stay posted for updates from the tundra!
In late fall, pre – winter, colors of the tundra and the species that roam the land come to a crossroads of earth tones. This pallet gradually transitions into a great white north we all think of when envisioning the forthcoming and exciting polar bear season. This time is short though one of the most beautiful in the Arctic and surrounding regions.
Multi colored red fox with the colors of the textured tundra behind. Katie deMeulles photo.
Each year during polar bear season in Churchill either red or Arctic foxes tend to be the more prevalent species for that particular season. In recent years there has been an influx of red foxes that have seemingly displaced the gorgeous, white coated Arctic fox population to some extent. Hunting, legal and illegal, has also played a role in lowering the Arctic fox numbers. Warming temperatures facilitate the red fox species to become more adaptive to the northern weather and even ice conditions in winter. The patchwork colors of the red fox in particular meld with the myriad of tundra color splashes.
The colors of the tundra deep into fall in Churchill. Ed Bouvier photo.
Early season photo of a sleepy polar bear. Paul Brown photo.
While snow is imminent in the Churchill region, polar bears will take this time to conserve energy by limiting movement as much as possible. Sleeping bears will soon be wandering restlessly as the snow falls and temperatures drop to freezing or lower by month’s end. Polar bears gazing toward the Hudson Bay in anticipation of a freeze over will become the norm as November marches on.
Lichen growing on rocks in Churchill. Steve Selden photo.
Silver fox scouring tundra for lemmings. Colby Brokvist photo.
The tundra will release the last fruits of its bounty to the scouring animals looking to nurture their bodies with berries, plants or lemmings before the winter hits hard. Changing appearances in foxes, hares and birds foretell the new season that will become a energetic forum of multiple species before the freeze leads to mass exodus lead especially by the king of the Arctic, the mighty polar bear.
Snowy owl on the tundra in the CWMA. Colby Brokvist photo.
A Gyrfalcon in the late fall in Churchill. Brad Josephs photo.
With so much happening in Churchill we are posting more amazing photos that Natural Habitat Adventures guides have submitted from some pretty spectacular trips! Aggressive polar bear sparring seems to be the theme thus far as the 2015 polar bear season settles in. Aurora borealis has also been more visible in the northern sky in vivid reds and greens. A recent Tundra Lodge group viewed shimmering ribbons across the ink black sky deep in the CWMA. Last week my son and I experienced the northern lights with a few Natural Habitat groups by the inukshuk behind the town complex. My son’s eyes lit up with wonder as he viewed them over the placid and glimmering Hudson Bay. Priceless memories for sure.
Natural Habitat travelers on the tundra lodge under amazing northern lights. Drew Hamilton photo.
The tundra lodge has enjoyed abundant bear population from the start of the season. Sparring in and out of the willows surrounding the lodge has kept travelers in awe throughout the day. This will be hard to sustain though some new exciting phenomena out in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (CWMA) will surely arise. Every year a new and interesting behavior emerges from the polar bear population in Churchill. A cycle of other species seems to revolve from year to year as well. This season numerous snowy owls have been sighted all over the area. Last season red foxes were all over the tundra and the previous year the Arctic fox population was prolific.Every year is a new adventure!
Polar bears engaging in mock fighting on the tundra in Churchill. Drew Hamilton photo.
Snowy owls have been prolific this polar bear season. Colby Brokvist photo.
Polar bears engaged in some pre sparring jawing. Drew Hamilton photo.
Arctic and Red foxes compete for territory in Churchill and many seasons we see both on the tundra around town and out in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. Often, alternating seasons of proliferation provides an abundance of one species or the other. More often than not, Arctic foxes are sighted with more regularity then red foxes in and around the Churchill region. Trapping and diseases such as rabies have limited the numbers in the past. Populations seem to rebound and both species can be seen and photographed throughout the year. Enjoy these images from Churchill!
Arctic fox on the Churchill tundra. Courtesy Natural Habitat Adventures.
Arctic fox sniffing the tundra for prey. Brad Josephs photo.
Red fox on the tundra. Natural Habitat Adventures photo.
Gorgeous red fox on the tundra. Colby Brokvist photo.
Arctic fox in gray morph phase. Paul Brown photo.
Red fox on the tundra. Brad Josephs photo.