Polar Bear Photo Tour Churchill - Polar Bears - Day Three

November 15, 2011

Polar Bear Photo Tour Churchill - On the Tundra with the Polar Bears - Day Three

You know how we should make every day a day that is worth while getting out of bed ... Well today was one of those days.  To experience the polar bears up here is really beyond words.  When the first ones started to wonder out of the willow bushes and move closer to the vehicle it is quite a thrill.

After a 7:00 a.m. breakfast we left for a short drive outside of Churchill to the Great White Bear Tundra Vehicle Touring company.  Here we boarded our vehicle for a day out on the tundra and exploring and shooting along the cooooollllllddddd Hudson Bay coastline.  The reward was the great experience of observing and photographing the magnificent polar bears as they wait close to the shore for the bay to freeze over.  Once it does they leave the mainland and head out to hunt and feed on the seal over the winter months.  

Up to now they have not had much to eat and are ready to get the winter part of the show on the road.  You will see images below of the bears sparring with each other.  This is a way they get themselves conditioned to deal with the harsh winter ahead.  On a day like today where with wind chills if felt like -20 c it would be considered a balmy day for the bears.  In fact after watching them spar with each other they actually laid out in the snow to cool off.  We have a good selection of bear images for you tonight.

We spent the entire day out on the tundra including a picnic lunch of hot soup and sandwiches.  Oddly enough I was teasing Brian that I was going to put a salmon in his pocket to attract the bears ... and guess what at lunch today, out of the selection he drew salmon sandwich’s.  

After supper tonight we visited Mary and Peter an Inuit couple who took us inside their Inuit Tepee.  Mary demonstrated and showed us many of the people’s traditional tools, clothing and even a blade made from caribou that would have been used for ice blocks to make an igloo.  They finished up the demonstration and talk by Peter playing a traditional Inuit drum and Mary singing a song her grandmother made up, which would told the story of her life out on the ice.  Thank you to Mary and Peter it was a great demonstration and fun to spend time with you this evening.

We are back where it is warm and getting ready for a sleep, the fresh air is tiring.  Tomorrow we have another fully day, first we will be talking a one hour helicopter tour of the coast line, then a visit to Cape Mary and in the afternoon dog sledding.  So don’t forget to check back for more interesting images.

That’s it for today’s report on our Churchill Adventure, good night from the Trekkers of the North!!!  Enjoy today’s images.

This is the Tundra Vehicle we used to spend the day out on the country side.  Note there is also a back deck that you can observe and photograph the polar bears from.  Each photographer had their own seat and window, which was perfect for this sort of trek.


This is a view from inside the Tundra Vehicle, note the size of the body of water we are crossing.  These things can cut through snow, ice and rough terrain with ease.


Here’s another shot out the front window.  Note by this afternoon with the windchill the water was freezing fast.


Here’s Ramon, Harold, Brian and Sue in the foreground taking some shots of our first polar bear sighting of the day.


Here’s a shot of Collin with a polar bear snoozing right outside our window.


You know what happens one kid gets their photo taken and they all what to do it.  OK Brian your turn ...


With luck that only Brian has he drew the salmon sandwich for lunch today ... guess how we sent out to attract the bears in the afternoon.


This is the MV Ithaca, which ran aground up here in 1961 in the midst of a foggy morning.  The crew got off safely at low tide and the ship has remained here ever since. At low tide you can walk out to her.


Here is a view of the Hudson Bay coastline from the Tundra Vehicle, you can just see the slush starting to freeze which will form the ice.  Once the ice forms the bears can be gone in as quick as 12 to 24 hours.


This is the Tundra hotel, you can actually come out here and stay for four day stretches.   If you look closely and count in three car lengths from the right and look below you will see a sleeping polar bear on the by the shoreline.


Here’s another view with a Tundra Vehicle beside the complex with folk viewing the polar bears.  Note if you come out to stay here you can’t leave the complex even for a walk.


OK here comes the polar bear shots .... This guy wanted to try a Nikon or way he just ready for his close-up.


I’ll check the tire pressure for you while I’m down here.


This guy decided to stop and give the driver directions, the large adult males have no problem reach right up to the window.


Now he's coming over to check us out.


A close-up, he is only about 12 feet away.


Check out his black tongue.  That’s right polar bears have black tongues.


Time for a little snow play.


OK boys, keep it fare.  A younger bear watches from the distance.


They are getting closer ...


Check out the size of this guy and the size of his legs and paws.


Head shot.


They like digging in the snow.  They pick up a scent and try to find what it is.


Here’s another shot that shows you the massive size of their paws.


Here’s a close-up of one of the paws as he passes close to the front window.


They have an extremely sensitive nose.


A little more sparing ... This helps them prepare to head back out onto the ice.


And up on the hind legs they go.


As I mentioned before sparing is a way to condition themselves as the prepare for the harsh conditions ahead.


OK 3 point deduction for unnecessary holding.


OK shake paws and come out fighting.


If you look closely you can see their breath as they expel all this energy.


Another sparing shot, it was great just to put the camera down and watch.


Going for the ear.


Here is a couple of bears checking out another Tundra Vehicle as it passes.


This guy is now trying to cool off after all that sparing.  As I said in todays blog this is still warm weather to a polar bear.


Do I have something on my face?


The other polar bear is now going to take a rest and cool off.


After dinner we visited with Peter and Mary in their Inuit Tepee.  This was great fun and very interesting.


This is carved from caribou antlers.


Sue models a head dress, made by Mary.


Ela tries her hand at an Inuit game that they would play.


Collin tries on a pair of sunglasses made from caribou antlers.  The ice and snow are make it very difficult to see on a bright day.


Peter played the drum and Mary sang a traditional Inuit song.


Mary shows us her outfit made of caribou hides.  The pouch on the back is were the women would carry their babies.


Here is the outside of the tepee.


Well ... you guessed it that’s the end of today’s blog and shots.  We’ll be back with more stories and images from Churchill tomorrow.  Good night.


Tags : PolarBearDayThree

Please add a comment

Posted by Jane on
Wonderful photos of the Bears. They put on quite a show for you. Keep sending all the wonderful shots. Enjoy!
Posted by Anonymous to protect the innocent. on
Oh James ... the poor polar bear is the butt of your final joke tonight. OK I'll give it a 9 on the groaner scale. Great pics and continue to enjoy the trip.
Posted by Claire on
Amazing photos ! Hope today will be another great photo op for all of you. Enjoy !
Posted by Betty Ann on
I just can't get enough of these amazing shots. So interesting and very exciting. You are a lucky bunch to be there and witness this. Enjoy.
Posted by Gail Nichol on
OMG, what great photos of the bears. They are magnificant creatures. Brian so glad they didn't have to use you for bait!! Looking forward to more photos.
Posted by Shari on
Wow! Only the first day on the Tundra and so many amazing shots
followed by a very interesting experience. Brian, I thought I had warned you about the salmon sandwiches! Great photos, keep em coming!
Posted by Marysia on
awesome pictures!!!!!
Posted by brenda on
So,where's the can of coke?
Posted by Jack & Sonya on
Hi Pompy, I am really excited to see you in the pictures and the polar bears. Please keep your hands in the bus. Love you, xoxo
Posted by Claudia Viani on
Hi James and gang,
such amazing pictures! What an adventure...keep them coming. Have also posted your blog on CWT Yammer for all CWT Canada to enjoy.
Look forward to tomorrow.