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Posts Tagged ‘black wolf’

Polar bear outsmarts wolf, or…

Come closer. I won't eat you. I promise.

Come closer. I won’t eat you. I promise.

by Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations, Churchill Wild

Wow, did we have a great breakfast encounter!

Our group of tuckered out carpenters had a little extra sleep, and our 9 a.m. Sunday breakfast was well deserved after many long hours of hard work on the new guest accommodations at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge.

The sun was shining and there was a light breeze from the east at 9:20 a.m. when Shelby spotted a young polar bear through the scope. The bear was wandering westward down the coast at a fair pace and following the tide line.

At the same time, Mike Sigurdsson noticed a nice black wolf wandering on a sandbar moving eastward towards the Lodge. Someone at the table said, “I wonder what will happen if they meet?”

We found out!

The wolf spotted the bear first and immediately turned and ran 100 metres in the opposite direction. He then stopped for a look. The bear continued to wander west, getting closer by the minute. Then the wolf decided to try a different tactic and bolted straight towards the young stocky white bear.

To everyone’s surprise the polar bear darted and ran straight north into the depths of Hudson Bay. The last we saw of the bear was a swimming white bum heading north.

We decided that one of two things must have happened. First, bears are believed to have a great memory, and this one may have had a previous run-in with a pack of wolves. Second, this bear may have known something we didn’t. The rest of the pack may have been hiding in the willows ready to back up their leader.

Polar bears live in an unforgiving environment and even a small injury could lead to an untimely death, so it’s possible the bear just decided that running (and swimming) away were the safest actions at the time.

He was fat and very healthy after a long winter of eating seals, and a meal at this time of year was not high on the priority list, especially not a wolf…

with an ambush in the waiting.

Whose afraid of the big bad wolf?

No thanks, I’m a little smarter than that.

 

Birding at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

Guest Post and Photos by Christian Artuso, PhD
 Bird Studies Canada – Manitoba Program Manager

Common Redpoll Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

Common Redpoll

Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge is located on the Hudson Bay coast east of York Factory. While the main attractions are polar bears and black bears, there is also a fascinating mix of Arctic, Sub-arctic and southern bird species around the Lodge.

It’s an easy to walk out to the coastal flats or inland into the boreal ridges and wetlands from the Lodge, and in addition to the wildlife and bird watching, this is a great area to appreciate the big picture landscape of Hudson Bay, the northern lights, and spectacular Arctic sunsets.

This area surrounding Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge is rich in bird life. Through our work with the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas, we recorded 175 species in the area. The Hudson Bay coast teams with waterfowl and shorebirds and there is always the possibility of a rarity, so it is worth bringing a scope to scan flocks that may include American Black Duck, Mallard, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Whimbrel, Black Scoters and more.

Fox Sparrow Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

Fox Sparrow

Hudsonian Godwits (over 1200 birds) can be found near a high-tide roost at the mouth of the Mistikokan River, and the coastal shorebirding at small bodies of water in the coastal zone and along the mud flats is superb. There is a steady parade of raptors on show, Ospreys nest not far from the Lodge and there is a good array of northern songbirds in their breeding plumage. This is also an excellent place to photograph birds like the Common Redpoll, Blackpoll Warbler, Northern Shrike, Fox Sparrow, Rusty Blackbird and Northern Harrier.

One of the fascinating things about the Nanuk area is the ridge and swale landscape, with ridges clad in coniferous trees interspersed with wet meadows. The walking is quite easy along the ridges, which often have well-worn caribou trails. Most of the intervening wetlands are not too difficult to cross, many being wet meadows with very shallow water and lots of Yellow Rails and other wet meadow associated species. Sandhill Cranes are just one of many species that breed in these meadows.

Nelson's Sparrow Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

Nelson’s Sparrow

If you’re a birder who enjoys chasing the elusive flat-headed sparrows, the wetland swales are well worth a visit. The Hudson Bay subspecies of Nelson’s Sparrow breeds here and is quite common. Surprisingly perhaps, because range maps don’t show them occurring this far north, Le Conte’s Sparrows breed here in the same meadows as the Nelson’s Sparrows. You will also find other southern species here that you might not expect, such as the Black-capped Chickadee, although in this location the Boreal Chickadee is much more common.

In addition to bird watching, Nanuk offers superb wildlife viewing opportunities. Polar bears and black bears occur in close proximity (the former on the coastal flats, the latter away from the coast) and are both fairly easy to observe. I also had no less than three sightings of timber wolves which included observing a black wolf hunting goslings.

Timber Wolf at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

Black wolf on the prowl near Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge.

About the Author: Christian Artuso is the coordinator of the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas (www.birdatlas.mb.ca). He traveled to both Seal River Heritage Lodge and Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge to document birds in the area in 2012 and 2013. Despite having photographed wildlife from around the world, he has a special fondness for northern Manitoba, where all the photos in both this post and his Birdwatching at Seal River Heritage Lodge post were taken during the summer and fall. For more from Christian please visit his blog at http://artusobirds.blogspot.com and his Web site at http://artusophotos.com.

Cape Tatnam mission accomplished! Another first for Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge!

Cape Tatnam - Nature at its Finest

Cape Tatnam - Nature at its Finest

Yesterday Albert (Butch) Saunders and Mike Reimer completed their first overland expedition by ATV from Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge to the legendary Cape Tatnam.

Mike was complaining of a sore backside after the 135 km “jaunt” but the many sightings of polar bears and a black wolf within 20 meters helped ease the pain. Butch pointed out that his grandfather and his uncles had walked this coastline on many a hunting trip in days gone by, so we certainly were not the first people there. And we did find evidence of old camp sites, which was very interesting.

The spectacular beaches and sand dunes at Cape Tatnam rival some the finest beaches in Mexico. But these beaches also provide a beautiful if slightly surreal setting for polar bears. Many bear dens – day beds actually – were investigated on the dunes, further proof that this is obviously a major resting area for the polar bears when they first come off the sea ice. All the polar bears sighted appeared to be healthy and in excellent condition.

Thank you Mother Nature, for another wild and wonderful Churchill Wild adventure!