Archives

The Smiling Chipmunks of Riding Mountain~

Cheeky little chippers,

stand their ground when you come close!

Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba Canada has a ‘Red Chair Program,’ where two red Adirondack chairs are placed at random, often remote locations throughout the park, encouraging you sit for a spell and soak up the scenery.

The park consists of 1,146 miĀ² of mostly remote, scenic forest.

It is filled with pristine lakes,

and endless opportunities to soak up the solitary scenery.

Unfortunately we were a bit too early to see the birch leaves turn.

Cheers to you from Riding Mountain National Park~

Eat, Play, Swim & Sleep~

This is what we saw polar bears doing, as they wait for the ice to freeze, so they can go hunt seals on Hudson Bay. Works for me. I love doing all of these things!

The cub is eating the spine with ribs attached of a mammal the bears killed and you can see the dark colored blood on the rocks from their kill site. There was also another critter here that mama and baby bear continuously growled at. Most likely another bear, but we never saw it hiding in the rocks.

Scientists disagree about whether Hudson Bay polar bears eat or hunt while they wait for the ice to freeze, but this cub has the blood on his paw to prove he does both!

We nearly missed this big bear swimming near our zodiac.

Here he is leaving the water.

And of course the play. We saw mamas and cubs spending lots of time playing.

Cubs practice hunting techniques with this play.

And, like all young creatures, they like to play!

It is so heartwarming to observe the strong bonds between patient mother and playful cub.

Polar bears are not white. They have black skin and hollow transparent fur that conducts heat down their fur like straws to be absorbed by their black skin. Their fur appears white because it reflects sunlight. Polar Bears are efficient solar heat generators, but this makes them uncomfortable in arctic summer weather.

They spend a lot of time taking siestas (and scratching) always near water for a cool dip.

Here is another wet bear. Please forgive and bear with me, as I break my own rule on posting too many photos! I couldn’t resist and I do appreciate your patience. We are home now and I won’t be posting more bear photos for a long while.

A different mother with a much bigger cub, that I shot from the zodiac on the bay. Cheers to you from the stunning bears of Hudson Bay~

Churchill Manitoba~

Oh course I have to lead with the bears. Churchill is often referred to as ‘The Polar Bear Capitol of the world’ and I do have more of them to show you. This is a different mother and cub from the ones I posted before and they are shot in black and white.

Churchill itself is a most remarkable and unique place. In the summer it is nippy, but in the winter, it is another story altogether. Hudson Bay freezes over and the polar bears are in their element. People, not so much. But clever and resourceful humans have adapted many ways to make life in this forbidding climate livable. Check out this polar research vehicle which you have to admit is pretty darn nifty. (In the background you can see an abandoned missile silo. More about this later).

Decades ago polar bear populations around Churchill were in very serious decline. Protection and creative bear management practices have brought numbers up significantly. This is the ‘Polar Bear Holding Facility,’ which locals call, “Polar Bear Jail.” Bears that cause repeated problems in town are held in this facility and then relocated by helicopter far away in the tundra. The town has a Bear Patrol, which is called out when bears become a threat, to shoo them out of town. These smart practices are saving the lives of both bears and people.

Inukshuks were used by northern Inuit people as traditional directional markers. An Inukshuk like this one symbolizes friendship and safety. Today, “Inukshuks have been transformed into worldwide symbols of hope and friendship transcending borders and welcoming people all over the world.”

(Source: https://www.sustainabilitytelevision.com/news/why-inukshuk-represents-heart-canada)

Respecting the meaning of symbols like this seems more important than ever in today’s world.

Note: the femur bone at the bottom right of the photo. Most likely caribou. This is polar bear country after all.

Traditional Caribou Hall is a National Landmark and a town centerpiece.

My son is checking out the wreck of a plane that crashed in Churchill in 1979. All aboard survived, but what ends up in Churchill, often stays in Churchill, because the only way in and out of town is either a train ride that takes about 45 hours, or an air flight. The commuter airline that makes the trip between Winnipeg and Churchill is called “Calm Air.” It offers a lovely ride that we enjoyed immensely, even though some locals refer to the airline as “Calamity Air,” due to, errrr…..unforeseen weather variations enroute.

These are the community vegetable gardens. Vegetables are prized and hard to grow in this frozen tundra environment, so community effort is important. Recycled arctic buggy wheels make useful above frozen ground planters.

A traditional cabin built to withstand the arctic winter.

Our lodge was built of reclaimed logs and has this sign in front.

Churchill is filled with amazing open air art. Click on this link and read how and why this is so. You will be glad you did. The story is awe inspiring: https://www.cbc.ca/cbcdocspov/features/a-winnipeg-artist-brought-hope-to-churchill-manitoba-when-they-needed-it-th

This abandoned building is a concrete blast shelter connected to a former missile test facility by underground tunnels. This facility operated in Churchill from the 1950’s until the mid 1980’s. All the missile testing buildings are now abandoned.

The seemingly endless miles and miles of tundra topography surrounding Churchill is stunning and utterly unique.

Cheers to you from amazingly beautiful Churchill Manitoba~

What a Big Mouth You Have~

The better to growl at you,

besides it’s hot for a polar bear, and I pant and get grumpy when it’s hot.

I’ll growl at the dirt if I want to.

Whose gonna stop me?

Baby Bear, like a pint sized Narcissus, practices panting and growling at his reflection. Someday, he hopes to grow huge and growl as fiercely as Mama Bear, but for now, all he can do is practice.

What big teeth,

huge tongue,

and what fine bears you are!

Your sleepy cub is quite handsome,

and your home is lovely too!

Cheers to you from the awesome bears in their stunning Hudson Bay home~

Baby Beluga in the Deep Blue Sea~

Hudson Bay in Manitoba is massive, pristine, and full of wildlife.

Approximately 50,000 beluga whales spend the summer here to feed and give birth.

The Hudson Bay beluga population comprises 35% of the world’s total wild beluga population.

Belugas are very vocal whales, hence their nickname, ‘canaries of the sea.’

They respond to human singing, so I have spent time singing, “Baby Beluga in the Deep Blue Sea,” which they seem to love. They come like puppies when I sing, and sing back under water, so I do not care how ridiculous I know I appear.

The reason these belugas are curious, friendly, and approach human beings, is because they are not hunted in this area.

They swim upside down under the zodiac checking us out. They bump your hand if you trail it in the water. You can see this one approaching the back of the zodiac for a visit.

My son went snorkeling in a dry suit with them and they came immediately to him and played all around him.

Here is the zodiac we explore the bay in and our guide, Deb, who is the best guide we have ever had.

Cheers to you from the glorious and unspoiled Hudson Bay~

Polar Play~

We are seeing polar bear everyday here in The Hudson Bay!

This series of shots are a mama and cub at play.

Polar Bear health is rated on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being too thin and starving, and 5 being overfed and obese.

I am happy to report that all the bears we are seeing are healthy fours!

The population of polar bears at Hudson Bay are thought to number between 900-1000.

Some estimates indicate Hudson Bay populations may have declined approximately 17%- 22% in recent years, but they have rebounded from all time population lows in the 1950’s-70’s.

All the bears we are seeing look really healthy.

During the end of August, polar bears are in a state of semi-stuporous, walking hibernation, waiting for the waters of the bay to freeze up, so they can head out and hunt seals.

They still do eat and hunt though, and I will show you some photos of this in my next post.

But, for the most part, these lazy August days are spent sleeping, playing and swimming.

This little cub though, seems quite intent on depriving mama of her nap!

The affection between them was beautiful to see.

Cheers to you from the happy, healthy bears of The Hudson Bay~

Cheers From Manitoba~

We are in Clear Lake Manitoba staying in a remote cabin.

There are wide open tracts of nature here with nary a person in sight.

We are heading further north soon, to Hudson Bay, to hopefully spend time with belugas and bears, and any other critters we may meet..

I gathered these late summer wild flowers in the meadow behind our cabin, eating wild raspberries as I browsed. We are enjoying the flowers as you can see on the cabin’s screened porch, watching deer in the meadow.

There is no wifi in our cabin, and wifi will be even harder to find as we head further north, so I am out of touch. I will check in when I can, but until then, it is cheers to you & be well from beautiful Manitoba~