Subscribe
RSS
Keywords
Archive
January February (1) March April May June (1) July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September (1) October November December
January February March April (1) May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May (1) June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December

CAPE CHURCHILL MANITOBA NOVEMBER 2013

February 09, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Cape Churchill Manitoba November 2013



This amazing subarctic trip begins on November 17th with a group dinner and a night spent in Winnipeg, Manitoba, our launching point for our next 10 days of adventure. On the 18th, we'll fly north to Churchill and immediately hit the ground running with a photo tour of the area, followed by dinner and a night spent in town. Our third day sees us get on the Tundra Buggy® for our odyssey to the Tundra Buggy Lodge® from the 19th to the 27th, where we'll spend 8 nights and 7 full days on the tundra photographing everything that moves. On the 27th, we'll return to Churchill in the evening and fly back to Winnipeg for our final dinner and the final night of the trip. You'll then depart for home on the 28th.

 

 
   

 
   


 

November 17 blog:


Well i arrived safely in "Winterpeg" - I mean Winnipeg this morning.  The timing was perfect. Winnipeg got their first snowfall! It is cool(cold to most!) but this is just a test run for Churchill. -30 degrees last I heard.

Awaiting the arrival of others on the tour. We will be getting together for a welcoming dinner tonight. Unfortunately the lead photographer - John Marriott - will not be coming.  John's dad was admitted to hospital in Salmon Arm with a life threatening septic infection. I am sure there will be other experienced  photographers to learn from, but I will miss meeting and working with John Marriott.

See John's web site:

http://blog.wildernessprints.com/2010/07/photographing-in-canadian-arctic-june.html

We will forge ahead though, keeping John and his Dad in our thoughts.

We are going to photograph the Polar Bears!!! And the list decided at dinner tonight by Roberta ( and agreed to by all) also includes gyr falcon, arctic fox, ptarmigan and caribou! In the non wildlife area, we hope to shoot the northern lights. It will be an adventure what ever happens.

Over the next 11 days, we will work at getting some great shots during our time in the arctic. Tomorrow morning we fly to Churchill and have a town tour and experience life in the northern community. We will stay overnight in Churchill, then the next day, slowly make our way out to Cape Churchill.  We apparently will be heading to where the lodge is now located, then it will be disassembled  and moved to the Cape, where we will "park our parkas" for the week.  Speaking of parkas, they have provided parkas for us. Lovely goose-down parkas! No doubt we will keep warm! 😁 Maybe not such a big problem for me.😄 and to-boot they are blue!( my favourite colour)

Got the Sorrell boots out ready for the morning and all the other arctic-wear required to prevent frostbite, or worse yet, losing all feeling and becoming "stiff and inflexible"! Not a good thing on an adventure expedition. We really must remain flexible! 😜

So will travel in a convoy out to the cape. I could take 6-8 hours. Hopefully lots of wildlife on the way. Mind you, tomorrow there are a few of us that are, weather permitting, and a guaranteed window seat, may also take a helicopter out for some aerial photography! This is a big thing for me. I Looooovvvvve helicopters! And it is one of those thing that I like to do when I can see something spectacular. While I have spent some time in the Arctic over the years, this will probably be a unique experience. We'll see how it all turns out.

Hopefully this new way of communicating to you about my adventures will work better than the emails.  Once you have the link, you should be able to follow along (if I am doing it right? All new to me as well).

Please feel free to share the blog address if you like.  I will try to add some photos when I can.

But of course there is the possibility that we won't always have access to the internet -if at all. If that is the case, I will send them out when I get home one day at a time.

November 18

Hello from Churchill Manitoba!

Wanted to let you know we made it to Churchill safe and sound.  A couple photos from earlier...Pretty much all iPhone pics).

 

What do you think this is?


Back to Winnipeg!

 


The welcome back to Winnipeg!

 


Plane #1 grounded

 


Calm Air got us there!

 


 First aid kit on the bus in Churchill. You better hope what they have in the red kit works!

Hayley our guide has been awesome!! A transplanted Kiwi, who has done incredible outdoor adventures, and guided many places, and has even written a book! Great personality and very efficient!

 

And now for the rest of the story.....

 

While they were working on the plane, they brought in a bus and took us to the Winnipeg Zoo for lunch! Nothing fancy, but they had also arranged for tour guides and the took us on tour through some of the areas to visit the animals. And yes, we saw our first live polar bear - "Hudson"! You can read Hudson's story here...

http://www.assiniboineparkzoo.ca/attractions/exhibits-info.php?entry_id=18034

 


HUDSON – photo from Zoo website

As we wondered around - in our very warm, but very bulky parkas, we looked like a herd? Flock?....whatever.... of penguins shuffling along in the snow!  And hey who ever thought we would see snow leopards on this trip? A adult pair with two young. What an incredibly beautiful animal!

And I think it was also the first time a "herd of parkas" wondered into the South American exhibit!  It was a little warm for all. After a short while wandering with two great zoo guides, we boarded our bus again to return to the hanger. The plane mechanics had given it their best to make the necessary repairs, but the tour company ended up chartering another plane from "Calm Air" to take us to Churchill. We left Winnipeg about 4:30 and arrived here about 7:30 pm. 

There are about thirty people in all. Our small group has 9 photographers. California, Florida, Kelowna, Vancouver, Lively Ontario, Canmore Alberta, Mosley Ont, one more I can't remember, and London Ont...Me! In the other groups, there is a gentleman from India, the UK and numerous US states. 

 They had dinner dinner options sent to us on the plane. We made our choices and relayed back  to Churchill. (My dinner was Arctic char, with wild rice risotto, and it was delicious! )

 

The tour company team Frontier North, and Polar Bears International (PBI), did a fabulous job making the most of a day full of conundrums! Get this....because we were not able to pick up supplies in Churchill as a result of our late arrival, they even took a liquor store order! Where else but in the north would this happen!

Check out their links!

http://www.frontiersnorth.com/our-story

http://www.polarbearsinternational.org

 

Now I'm ready to sleep.  Our plans have changed again. We will have the morning in Churchill and leave on tundra buggies to the Tundra Buggy Lodge at ~1:00 pm. We are going to spend the night there and break camp the next morning. Don't know about the chopper ride yet.

On a last note.  On our way from the airport, we saw 2 arctic foxes. Coming out from dinner and crossing the street back to our hotel,I said out loud, "ok how about another arctic fox before bed? Where are you Buddy?" Not 20 seconds later one crossed the road not more than 30 yards away! I just have a way with animals!  Actually, we were told this is a huge year for the foxes.  Regardless, they were beautiful pure white with lovely big bushy tails!

And as a last last note.... The northern light were faintly flickering in the sky as we headed to our home at the Tundra Inn.

This may be the last blog till I get home.  Not even cell service in Churchill!

Good night all. I will write and send when/if I can.

Diane ( the fox whisperer)

 


This is actually the ceiling in the Winnipeg airport.( sorry I turned it upside down and threw on a filter (above) just foolin' with ya

 

Ok now...so where did I leave off?

 

Right now we are moving overland, camp in tow.  Now this is no easy feat on a regular day! But today happens to be a hell of a day for this.

But I am getting ahead of myself and I should bring you up to date on what has happened since arriving in Churchill.  

 

 

November 18 Update:

Unfortunately John's father passed away and he will not be joining us. We have all been thinking of him and missing him, and hope he and his family are doing OK.  

there is a great group and we are already having fun!  We boarded the plane to Churchill at 7:30 am and headed up to Churchill. After flying half an hour, the pilot tells us a gauge isn't working and we have to return to Winnipeg. About 10 minutes my seat mate and I noticed the prop on our side was just slowly blowing in the wind! But our pilot got us back on the other engine fine and landed like we were a feather. Awesome job.  Then we notice that all the fire engines were waiting to meet us! Quite a reception!  So now they are working on the engine, while we relax in the pilots lounge. We hope to still get there today.  The skies are starting to show blue, so I think it will be a good day! The adventure has begun! 

November 19

First thing this morning we headed over to the restaurant for breakfast.haley came to a few of us that had shown an interest in a helicopter tour.  We all being photographers had not wanted to pay the price if we did not have a window seat so we could photograph. The answers were back and there were window seats for Five.! Alrighty then!  Roberta and I from our group and three others, Joel ( Chief Counsel for India and south-east Asia) Gary a civil engineer from somewhere, and Dorthy from Pittsburg.

It was a beautiful clear sky morning, sunrise colours lighting the eastern skies as the skis lifted from the tarmack.  Off we swerved towards Hudson Bay.  The ice on the bay had formed two weeks early this year.  The patterns of the windswept snow and in the ice were beautiful.The small trees growing on the land before we reached the taiga, had long shadows cast by low magic morning light. Awestruck we continued, looking,of course, for the elusive, white on white, Ursus maritimus, the sea bear, most commonly known as the Polar Bear!

And there she was! A mom with a young cub sauntering along. The shutters had certainly been clicking before, but now the rapid fire of multiple cameras and the oohs and ahhhs of the photographers, clearly indicated something special was in our sights!  The pilot turns the chopper on its left side and then it's right to give all an opportunity to have a good view. And then off we went to continue looking for more...a large male curled up in a bed of kelp he had dug up for himself...another mom and cub curled up behind a hillock of dirt or snow with a large male approaching - this had potential to be an event as the mother started towards the male leaving the cub behind her.  All ended peacefully.

A huge dark grey cloud bank was developing over the open waters of Hudson Bay. That beautiful deep blue grey hue contrasting with the clear deepening blue sky north of the 69th, still had a hint of soft sunrise pink.

And then we have to turn around. An hour sure goes by fast. But a wonderful start to the day.

Back in Churchill with a few hours to explore before we had to head to the launch point. I dropped off one of my cameras, dressed up warm and headed out on the town! I think I forgot to tell you how cold it was.  It was that cold that as soon as you step outside, the moisture on the hairs inside your nose freeze and the freezing air sends a tingling current to your cheeks, numbing them almost immediately.  There was hoar frost on every thing visible.  Quite beautiful! Pressing the shutter as I went I captured a few images around the town. I stopped in at the museum, which was very interesting, unfortunately not enough time to really do it justice. Ther were also wonderful carvings and artwork from northern artists.

 As I left the museum, there was this sweet pup waiting for its owner. Welcoming a puppy fix, I felt it necessary to warm the poor little fellow. So we had a little lovin' which he and I both enjoyed!

Next stop was the grocery store to stock up on chocolate, ( I do have my priorities) the a couple galleries and then back for lunch. I quickly gobbled my lunch realizing that I hadn't yet had my passport stamped at the Post Office (nice to know they still have some business eh!), and also another forgotten priority - the liquor store! While they had taken everyone's order yesterday, it was decided since we had the morning free after all, we could shop ourselves.

That done, I headed back, grabbed my camera gear and hopped on the bus to the Tundra buggy launch. 

We are finally on the road to our camp!

The tundra buggies are assigned to their groups. John Marriott's crew is on Buggy 10. Until now we had all been milled together for the flights, tours and meals. Now we had time to get to know each other, but not before all the camera gear was readied for the journey ahead!

So we we off in a little "Buggy Convoy" to our home for the next night. As we got close to our destination we finally spotted a polar bear, sleeping in the willows on the side of the road. We crowded out to back deck - not before dawning a layer or two, to see and try to capture a shot in the low light.  Very hard to spot cream on white in a distance, especially in fading light of dusk.  And a moment later there's an arctic fox running along side our buggy - more white on white. Getting close to camp now, we put the cameras away.  We have arrived! Home for only one night but home all the same. It was a fair trek today and we were ready to stop.

 

November 20

So this is a big day.  The camp has to be packed up, broken down, and hooked up to the tundra buggies for the move from this site, to our final destination of Cape Churchill. So it is a pretty early start. We must Ensure all your gear is stowed safely. Nothing on the shelves or loose in the bunk house. There are two bunkhouse. The have up and down bunks on both sides of the aisle. The bunkhouses will be towed by tundra buggies today, as will the kitchen car,the lounge car and all the rest.  It is a long process getting everything ready. It requires many workers on the ground, which in this location is pretty dangerous. So many workers are guards with rifles as lookouts for any bears approaching, and the guests are put on the tundra buggy, doing circle rounds around the camp base area to make the camp aware of any bears in the outer areas that might head their way.  Once the camp was ready, the tundra buggys backed into their loads , hooked up, and at about 11:15 am, the convoy was on the road....well not a road exactly....over the tundra and the taiga on the routes that have been used before.  These are not easy roads! Boulders everywhere, the odd place the ice is not real solid. But it is only 32 km, so it shouldn't be too bad right? 😱 

I don't know what speed we drove at but it was not fast.  Then along the way, our buggy caught a boulder and the drive shaft broke and then punctured the oil pan. Oh yeah baby, the adventure continues! Then we passed over a soft are. Our driver, Buggy Bob, felt it starting to sink and gunned it and made it out ok. Unfortunately the buggy behind us did not.  And it took a couple or three hours to pull it out. The water here is not deep at all, but it was not an easy feat to get them out of it. I have to say also that the speed they managed to repair a broken driveshaft and punctured oil pan, gives Jiffy Lube a run for their money! These guys are amazing.

So stop and go, a slow slow go, and finally about 11 pm we arrived at Cape Churchill in Wapusk National Park. Yes 32 km , and 12 hours to cover the distance.  But wait there' s'more. we are here yes, but now the camp has to be set up! We were fed lunch and soup and coffee and such on the way. Now to appease the restless natives, ( who had no idea what all this involved ) they brought out the wine and cheese for a happy hour! I don't think I mentioned, but, each buggy is like a school bus, but it has a bathroom in the back and a propane stove to curl up to when it gets cold...😳. That day we were in the centre of a blizzard.  No visibility, snow horizon, and colllllldddddd!  

So the crew had the worst  conditions to do a tear down, but for us photographers, the day lost was a day we probably would not have had much to shoot, so not as big of a loss as it could have been. But the temperature with windchill was certainly at the very most -30, but I think it was colder. The wind that day would numb the fingers so fast that pushing the shutter next to impossible.  

So it took from 11 till 2:30 am to set up camp. We were captured in our tundra buggies thill they were done, but the wine helpedLasagna was served at 3 am , and finally to bed. Up again in the morning at 7 am to head out again, and the day dawned cold and foggy, with very little visibility. But it did clear up and it ended up to be not a bad shooting day. But I must save that for another email, as it is now time for dinner. 

Stay tuned for some more adventures and some magical moments! Hopefully I will have time to process some photographs to show you more than iPhone shots. Hope you are well.  

 

Thinking about you John and hoping you are doing ok.

Hugs!

Lots of love for now,

Diane

 

Ps. Today -19- with the wind chill -27

 

November 23

Hi again,

Just got in (11pm) and am trying to thaw out! I think you are right Sue, it sure felt like it was colder than -19...however you look at it, it is dang cold!

 The Northern lights appeared tonight and a few of us were out on the decks photographing them.  The sky is clear but the wind wicked! Tomorrow is supposed to be -40 with the wind chill factor. Anyway, i cannot get ahead of myself here.  Just wanted to send a few more photos I could get from my iPhone tonight. It is the first we have had internet since we arrived. 

Stay tuned for ....."The Rest of the Story!"

Chatter chatter ....  shiver shiver!

Diane

PS thanks for your emails! Nice to hear from you too!


Just starting to take the camp down. It was a blizzard: defined as temperature -12c or less, wind 40km or more, visibility 1km or less! It was all of that and more.

 


A tundra buggy pulling a bunkhouse. This was the one that broke through the ice and needed pulling out.

 


Convoy to the Cape

 


Made it through this soft spot!

 


An idea of the terrain.

 

Me on the Back Deck leaning into the Wind!

The wind was wicked! Shooting out on the back deck of the buggy. We are out in our buggy from before sunrise to after sunset.  (8am to 3:30 pm)Sometimes shooting off the back deck, sometimes out the window with cameras set on beanbags on  the window sill to steady.  As I was shooting off the back deck Thursday, my bean bag fell off. We were shooting a mom and probably a two year old cub at the time. Fortunately they didn't notice and we were able to retrieve once the two left.

FYI we are not allowed to get off the buggy at any time nor set foot on the ground. Last night a huge male was ........oh heck you'll have to wait for that story! I need to get some sleep!

Good night!

 

November 21, 22, 23, 24


So I think we left off at Thursday the 20th, but now the days are all running into each other and I have lots to catch up on.  And before I go farther, computer geek that I am, I am unable to process any photos because I have not got a new enough copy of Bridge/Photoshop on my little notebook computer, and there is no driver for my new canon 7D camera, which means I can't even look at them myself! So I am trying to remember to take I phone photos, and when that doesn't work, taking photos of the back of my camera display of the photos I'm taking on my camera. Convoluted for sure.  All this is for you!

Camp sent up at Cape Churchill with blue sky!

 
 


And it is way too cold for my old battered original Canon 5D to even consider shooting! I keep the battery in the inside pocket of my Goose down coat, pop it in the camera, turn it on.....nothing! And you all know I emit a good source of heat. You'd think it would have enough of an effect on the battery to make a difference. So I may have to share any decent photos I capture at a later date, after I return home.

But the stories and the adventures continue. The first morning we headed out after the move, was blustery and probably still a blizzard (as earlier described). And colder than a witch's ........ You know what I'm saying. Most of the wildlife had "hunkered down" as the saying goes here. We found a male polar bear hunkered down behind a willow bush. He had dug himself a nice little hole and was curled up sleeping. Occasionally lifting his head, stretching, or standing to re-position himself, all to the cacophony of the shutter- percussion section. It really is pretty funny. Most cameras sound like a burst of machine gun fire, with one lonely camera going, click...click....click😵. Yep. That's me. If I was a guy I'd have penis envy! The monster lenses 500 or 600mm with extenders, are like large serving platter at their outer end, and probably about two feet in length if not more. My lens is maybe 8 inches long, and cup size at the end.

So we will see if size matters! (Let me assure you it does!- now I am talking photography here everyone!)

But all in all it is amazing! The first day, while blizzard conditions, and cold like a son of a gun, we still had a great time, and were wowed by the bears we did see. Because the ice on the Bay has frozen two weeks early, a number of the bears would already be out on the ice looking for seals. Especially the males. But we will get to see more over the next few days, as the weather improved. I am drawing a blank on the first days sightings, as I cannot refer to my images. But we have had some amazing magical moments and I will try to recall and share.



The terrain outside our buggy




Friday dawned with a frosty fog, but the blue sky was evident through the hazy layers, and we hoped for a clear day. And the sun dawned with beautiful colour, softened by the fog, and casting a rosy hue over everything. It seems like the "magic hour" for photographers - usually the hour before Sunrise and the hour after sunset - seems to last all day here. The shadows are long and the colour may fade, but still graces the landscape softly, and often times, the wildlife. Truly  magical.

The skies stayed clear (translation here: way colder!) for both Friday and Saturday. And the shooting was awesome. Pink glow to the polar bears coat, rim light behind the arctic hare! And the bears came and gave us some "Buggy Love"! I had my own magical moment. I was on the back balcony of the the tundra buggy. Watching a large male approach far off on the ice.  It came closer and closer, shutters clicking wildly. Until those guys with the huge lenses could no longer get a photo because it was too close! You could hear it snuffle! It's eyes were huge, round and black and shining.

I had a few more shots than the others, but then he was even too close for my lens, so I stopped shooting to just watch.  He came towards me on the back deck, stood on hind legs, paws against the side of the buggy and with only two feet maybe between us, we had eye connection. It is impossible to explain the feeling. But it was like a gift to have this moment with this bear. A moment of buggy love, and it was all mine!

He proceeded to give some buggy love to those on other buggies, we captured their moments on our cards which will give you an idea of what I am talking about - whenever I can show you.

Saturday in the early morning rosy light we had two young males sparring in the willows. It was so incredible! They would fight and bite, and roll on the ground, then both on their hind legs battling it out.  We figured the two young guys were practice fighting. They would fight for awhile, then lay down not far from each other, even right beside each other, and rest. Than 10 minutes or so later they would spar again!  When they were done, and were moving on, that is when we notices the blood marks on them.  Were't just playing!

Then there were moms and their cubs, some with "COY" cubs (cub of the year) some with cubs a little older, two years old and looking very healthy. Usually we look for bears heading in from quite a distance, find a place some where we could be on their path and then we sit and wait. This has worked great more often than not. They come so close, it is a huge thrill being so close. The bears will approach from the side, circle at a distance, their tongue darting in and out to assist the nose with scenting the potential dangers. If no danger is felt their curiosity will push them closer. Really though, they are so dang hungry that it would not take any enticing to encourage the bear to have a people snack! It is hard to remember this important item, they are just so beautiful.  Many males will weigh over a ton! They are the largest bear. Much larger than grizzlies.

Today we had two moms and cubs. One cub was a coy, one a two year old.  The mom with the coy was very lean. You could see her shoulder and hip bones poking through, and the cub was crying it was so hungry. The mom was so desperate for food, that she took no precautions whatsoever, and ran towards the buggy. She was very skittish, but so desperate for food that she was licking under the front of the tundra buggy next to us. We were not sure if there was some kelp on it from sinking on the track to camp, or she was so hungry she was licking any bits of oil she could from the undercarriage.  FYI they use non toxic  and biodegradable oils etc as well as bio diesel fuel on the buggies. So while she was not in any danger, is was disheartening to see and hear how serious their plight was.

We had arctic fox and hare today as well. A fleeting sight of a snowy owl as well. The light was flat today and the temperature had warmed considerably. Much more comfortable on the buses and While shooting. We also had Collared Caroline, and her cub and Bruno today, a very large male.

The clouds have moved in, a storm approached during the last of the day, and it is now snowing to beat the band! Tomorrow is supposed to dawn much warmer again, with a -8 predicted for the high.  Balmy!!

Oh yes about that awesome male I mentioned!.........

To set the scene. Every day when we return from our day on the buggy, there are appetizers and wine awaiting. In addition, Friday night, the owner made and served Ceasers, and on Saturday night, Wisers whiskey, and Hockey Night in Canada, by satellite. Also every night we are treated to a presentation. Or something special.

Friday night, Emma one of the staff brought out her guitar and sang and played.  She has a reputation of bringing in the big boys when she sings! And tonight was no exception. A huge male polar bear arrived outside the lounge buggy and placed his paws up on the side, raising its head to have a look see in the window! HUGE!

We have had two other "big boys" wandering around the camp over the last couple days. Very cool to look out the dining room window, the lounge or even your bedroom window and watch them pass by.  Over 1 Ton of beast that can have a reach of over twelve feet, when standing on their hind feet,  very cool until they tell you the story of how one night one managed to push in the bottom of the door to the freezer room.!

Tonight a couple of arctic foxes were frolicking around in the new snow.  These guys never stay still, constantly moving, quickly darting this way and that noses to the ground. They are no more than the weight of a house cat ( not including your cat, Mark H. , in this comparison!)
They are the toughest arctic animal according to parks canada speaker Dwayne. But they only have a life cycle of about 4 years.

We have had talks by Richard from Illinoisan, who has built a wetlands on his property that now draws a great number of birds. As well as a yard that attracts song birds, humming birds, butterflies and dragonflies.

And parks Canada, Dwayne, told us the history of the area and the Hudson Bay fur trade. About the wildlife too. Tonight were representatives from Polar Bear International.

Never a dull moment. No chance to get cabin fever from being cooped up all the time.  So many amazing moments! There are 27 clients on this trip. We are the only people this year that will be allowed to be in Wapusk National Park! Pretty lucky! We will be out shooting for two more days, and then will make our way back to Churchill Wednesday for our flight to Winnipeg. But still two more full days of photographing!

Hope you have all managed to dig out in ontario, and you are all warm and safe.

 

November 26

   

 

The photos are not good quality here, but it looks like there might be some great shots in there somewhere. And these are actually pretty sharp in the camera. I can only hope for the same on the big screen when I get home. Hopefully you will drop by my website once I get home and am able to process and upload a few of the good ones. It will take me a week or two to get some up probably!

We have had amazing photo opps. Two days in a row of sunshine ( which I am hearing is a very unusual occurrence here) and wonderful magic hour colours. And today, while it had snowed like crazy all night, and the day dawned dark and dreary, a little light poked through at opportune moments. We would have a period of fairly nice shooting conditions, and before you could say "Wapusk" we were in the midst of a whiteout. Then the sky would open up, a little light would shine through.  Then there was horizontal snow that turned into another white out, and again a little light. But then it closed in and stayed that way from one pm on.  But we did end up shooting some amazing things today.  We watched and photographed some amazing animal behaviour with foxes. Some photos will probably not be for everyone, and some were incredibly adorable.  And a couple of polar bears as well.

Followed two arctic foxes for awhile, watching they searched for food, then digging a small impression in the snow, curling up, and having a snooze. Always with one eye peeking out to check for danger.  That was the fun and adorable part. The second part of the day we observed a red fox with a kill. Some witnessed the chase and the kill, while our buggy arrived just after. The prey was one of those adorable arctic foxes we had just been watching. But it was very interesting to watch him as he buried food for later and made the most of every bit of the food he had captured.

This is certainly the arctic. Unpredictable from one moment to the next. But there are other more serious issues that need to be shared too. Remember the mom and cub I mentioned, that was so thin? It is a long time from when the cubs are born and the mom and cub come out of the den. During that time, the mom does not eat. Sometimes it can be six months until she eats. The main diet of polar bears is ring seal. They must have access to the ice to enable them to hunt the seals. But that ice has been receding steadily (global warming). Take a look at the polar bears international site at the video that shows how the ice has decreased in size over the last number of years. And as a result of this and other factors, In 2008, in the US, polar bears have been identified as threatened under the endangered species list and In Canada as a species of special concern. Check out this video on the Polar Bears International (PBI) site, showing how the polar ice has declined.  Pretty shocking!

http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/about-polar-bears/tracking/sea-ice-loss

Polar bears international has a great website with invaluable information about polar bears. I think you would find it interesting. Great info for kids too. 

Well breakfast is being served! I must eat and then we are off for our last day of shooting.  Tomorrow we head back to Churchill to get our flight to Winnipeg.  Overnight there and home on Thursday. Will take some time to absorb all that I have seen and experienced here at Cape Churchill.  Today snow again this morning but maybe clearing by noon. Fingers crossed for a good day of shooting. 

May not be blogging again till I get to Winnipeg or even home.  I think a bit of a party tonight! But I will be I touch again when I can. Til then take care, check out the PBI site. There were some web cams too!

Ciao for now from the arctic!

 

November 27


We are now on the plane from Churchill to Winnipeg. 

Yesterday on our last day on the tundra, it was quite cold once again. And while there was a thick haze hanging low in the sky, and visibility was low, we could occasionally see blue through it, and had high hopes for a clear day ahead.  We headed out for the day at 7:30, after breakfast, and while we drove in the dark, Buggy Bob our driver, watched closely for any signs of wildlife.  We readied our gear for the day's shoot...Cameras on a higher ISO for the low light of morning, batteries and cards in warm pockets daily to be changed out pronto when the others ran out. Then the layers of clothes on. Of course there is already three layers when we get on the buggy but now we added more. So on top of the long underwear and the next layer of clothes we add fleece, parkas, thin gloves, heavy gloves and sometimes mittens. Scarves around faces, balaclavas, toques, and the parka hood ready to flip up.  You see, we either shoot out the open windows of our row of seats ( each photographer had the bench seats on each side of the buggy so we could move from side to side depending on the location of the wildlife. ) Or head outside onto the back deck and be out in the open.. It is more often than not windy, so with the already low temps, probably -35  on average - you had to factor the wind into the equation,  and when that was all calculated, "It was Friggin Cold!!  

So you could whip off the outer mitt once you were ready to start shooting, and flip back the the finger tip flap on the next hand covering, and your thin liner gloves would allow you to feel the buttons and dials on the camera to change setting and push the shutter button as necessary.  Once the fingers froze, you could flip the finger tip flap back over the fingers, and/or rush over to the propane stove and try to warm the hands up enough to continue shooting or to get feeling back for the next shooting opportunity.  

Arghhhh Billy - We photographers are a tough lot!

Out on the deck you would have the addition of the wind to deal with, but often times you would have more room to manoeuvre. There is always a price for a good shot! That wind would be biting to your face, and the lips, cheeks and nose would be numb quickly. I'd try to pull that parka hood with the fur rim as tight as possible around my face. Another thing I found was helpful was I would always try to pull the balaclava over my nose, because your nose would touch the metal parts on the back of the camera, and freeze in an instant (although luckily it would not stick! ). But then again, when you did that, the warm air of your breath would sneak out the top opening and the moisture from your breath would produce a layer of ice on the screen, or fog up the eye piece.   But you know what? A little suffering makes these photographs seem all that more special, for all the effort it took us to get it! 


Yes it is true, we photographers are also a crazy lot!  😜

We did not have the greatest of luck for wildlife on the last day, but did have a sun dog, and then a second sun dog, one on each side of the setting sun. It was quite the spectacle to top off a great adventure.

We had some amazing sights, experiences, and connections with the wondrous wildlife of the arctic and witnessed the amazing ability of that wildlife to adapt to such a hostile environment. It was easier to understand the harshness of the environment, while being out in it every day, in all types of weather, and the difficulties all the animals have, just to survive.

 

Well that's it folks. It was fun sharing my adventure with you! Hopefully before too long I will manage to get some photos up on my website ( www.dewphoto.zenfolio.com ), and I hope you enjoy seeing the awesome wildlife we saw as well! 

 

Take care!

 


Comments

No comments posted.
Loading...