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Posts Tagged ‘Churchill’

Remembering Nanuk

Polar bear and guide at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

by Robert Postma, Professional Photo Leader

As we begin our descent to 300 feet, my pulse quickens as the Hudson Bay coastline comes into view. Circling over Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, I can already see four polar bears and a moose hanging out close by, just waiting for our group to visit!

I am here as a Photo Leader on the Mothers & Cubs adventure for a group of guests whose nationalities are Canadian, American, and a Polish couple living in Paris. It is the first time seeing polar bears for all of the guests and judging by their chatter, they are very excited.

Girl with polar bear at Nanik Polar Bear Lodge.

The plane lands and comes to a gentle stop. The fresh air surrounding Nanuk acts as a tonic and awakens senses dulled by city life. For me at least, it’s hard not to feel alive here with so much life surrounding us. Most of it of the wild variety!

After meeting with the staff, whom I have known for years, we settle down for a delicious lunch. While eating, a bull moose comes out of the bushes and poses for us, teasing us to run out and take photos. Unfortunately, by the time we get out there, the moose has slipped back into the willows.

Polar bear rolling in the grass at Nanuk

After lunch, we head out for our first of many “Rhino” rides. During the excursion we see many polar bears in the immediate vicinity of the Lodge, which makes for easy viewing! Cameras come out, photos are taken, and memories are made.

Guest taking photo of guest with polar bear at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

After dinner, I put on a slideshow that includes the northern lights, just to get people excited, as the prediction for aurora borealis on this night is rated high. Andy, the polar bear guide, steps in from outside and reports that the lights have come out and are beginning to dance across the night sky in ghostly curtains of light. The guests can now cross off two more items off their personal bucket lists.

Northern lights at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

I smile inside, seeing their happiness, and realizing that… we have three more days of this.

NOTE: Robert Postma will also be Professional Photo Leader on the Polar Bear Photo Safari at Seal River Heritage Lodge from Nov. 2-7 and on the the Great Ice Bear Adventure from Nov. 8-13 at Dymond Lake Lodge. Looking forward to that!

Award-winning National Geographic photographer Jad Davenport to lead first Polar Bear Photo Safari

Polar bears sparring near Seal River Heritage Lodge.

Polar bears sparring near Seal River Heritage Lodge. Bill Lyne photo.

Jad Davenport

Jad Davenport

Churchill Wild is proud to announce that Jad Davenport, an award-winning author, photographer and filmmaker represented by National Geographic Creative, will lead our first Polar Bear Photo Safari of the season at Seal River Heritage Lodge from October 21-27.

Jad specializes in wilderness photography and is one of the pioneers in the field of digital photography. He shot the first digital cover and inside story for National Geographic Adventure magazine in 2004 and his stories, photos, video shorts and blog posts have appeared in leading publications that include Smithsonian, Popular Photography, Sierra, Audubon, Outside, Men’s Journal, Sunset, ISLANDSCoastal Living and The New York Times among others.

A multiple winner of the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award and Canada’s Northern Lights Award for travel writing and photography, Jad is a former documentary photographer and filmmaker who covered a dozen wars from Bosnia to Iraq. He is a member of The Explorers Club, and has worked in over 150 countries and on all continents.

Jad has photographed extensively in polar regions, with assignments that have included Greenland, Svalbard, Nunavut, Alaska, Siberia, the Russian Far East, Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia. This makes him a perfect fit for the Polar Bear Photo Safari, which takes place in the HEART of polar bear country during prime polar bear season from October 21 to November 20, when the polar bears congregate in large numbers along the coast of Hudson Bay waiting for the Bay to freeze so they can begin their annual seal hunt.

The Polar Bear Photo Safari provides discerning photographers with ground level photo opportunities for Arctic wildlife including polar bears, caribou and Arctic fox, on a backdrop of stunning sea and landscapes. The pristine and remote wilderness location of Seal River Heritage Lodge on the Hudson Bay shoreline is ideal for photographing polar bears on ice and snow. Additionally, there are an exceptional number of clear nights for northern lights photography.

Photographs that truly reflect the beauty of the wildlife and their surroundings…

are taken here.

Polar bear paws while Arctic foxes scamper.

Polar bear paws while Arctic foxes scamper. Lydia Attinger photo.

 

For more information about Jad Davenport please visit: www.JadDavenport.com

Arctic Safari begins at Seal River

Blueberry Bears! Mandy Wallmann photo.

Blueberry Bears! Mandy Wallmann photo.

by Mandy Wallmann

The Arctic Safari has begun at Seal River!!

Autumn is definitely in the air. Clouds of Snow Geese seem to magically disappear and reappear suddenly, flashing white in the sun with each turn on the north winds. And with each new frost, the tundra is slowly changing into its stunning variety of fall colours.

Rebecca and Kayla and Cranberries!

Rebecca, Kayla and Cranberries! Marie Woolsey photo.

The polar bears have been plentiful and curious about the happenings at the Lodge. Mork has returned after having clearly spent the last few weeks rolling in blueberry patches. Finally today, another bear — a new bear — joined him, and they lazed away their day tumbling across the tundra together.

We’ve also been seeing more and more foxes around the Lodge. In the last two days we’ve seen one Arctic fox and two Reds!

Our first group of Arctic Safari guests have settled into Churchill Wild’s Caribou camp at Schmok Lake for a couple of nights and the weather was just perfect for them today!

The staff have taken the opportunity to work on projects around the camp, like cranberry picking. If you haven’t already heard, 2014 has been a banner year for berry yields. Today five of us picked 82 cups of cranberries in one hour! That’s a lot of Helen and Marie’s famous Cranberry Cake with Butter Sauce, folks.

And that’s a good thing!

Wild Cranberry Cake with Butter Sauce. Yes, it's Yummy!

Wild Cranberry Cake with Butter Sauce. Yes, it’s Yummy!

Polar bear fight on Hudson Bay puts kink in plans at Seal River Lodge (in a good way!)

Polar bear pounces on rivals in Hudson Bay.

Polar bear pounces on rivals in Hudson Bay.

by Andy MacPherson, Polar Bear Guide

The winds blowing from the northeast put a small kink in our planned activities for the morning, but three restless polar bears stirring on One Bear Point certainly provided enough distraction to keep everyone’s mind off the weather.

And the change of plans paid off in photo opportunities!

After breakfast I went out to see if our neighbours had begun to move, but I was too late. They had already ventured 100 meters into the water and were fully engaged in a three-way brouhaha! We spread the word to the guests that departure time was moved up and all came surging out of the Lodge to watch the melee from ringside seats. Front row!

The bears were already swinging for the cheap seats and leaping off the turnbuckles as we settled in for the show. Sucker punches were definitely part of the action and an ongoing hushed commentary could be heard from the guests.

Mork, a resident bear, was chewing on Bob’s neck, while Nanu Nanu circled looking for a weakness before submarining and emerging to pounce and dunk whichever rival was within his reach. The show and the combatants never seemed to slow down.  Moving back and forth in front of us in the water, the bears used every tactical advantage the terrain provided, especially boulders. To climb on, hide behind and leap from.

Amazing!

Ouch! Just kidding. Love bite.

Ouch!!! Just kidding. Love bite.

What were we going to do for an encore? How about a Beluga trip?

Low and behold the wind dropped and the sea calmed as we finished our lunch. The decision was made to try a dropping-tide Beluga trip on the spur of the moment, and everyone rushed to catch the high water before it was too late to launch the Zodiacs. The weather and whales cooperated and everyone was excited to have another opportunity to commune with the whales, both from the surface and in the water.

We ended the perfect day with a glass of wine before bed, and the promise of Northern Lights still to come.

Fingers crossed.

A perfect day  for polar bears.

A perfect day for polar bears…

Rhino II adds Mom and Cub to memory banks at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

by Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations, Churchill Wild

Polar Bear Mom and Cub at Nanuk

Polar bear Mom and Cub at Nanuk Polar bear Lodge.

At 9 p.m. last night our hard working crew of builders at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge decided it was time to blow off a little steam and go for a ride in our new custom-built Rhino II all-terrain vehicle. We’ll call it that for now, at least until our guests decide to overrule us with something better. West was our direction of choice this time and off we went.

About a kilometre from the Lodge we spotted a nice size polar bear out on the coast, but it was too far out in the surf to get a decent look, so onward we went, enjoying a beautiful evening and some good laughs.

Kelly, one of our carpenters, spotted a bear at 300 metres and we decide to try a little stalk with the new Rhino. We closed the gap to approximately 100 metres and were treated to a close-up of a very healthy looking Mom and her COY (cub of the year), who would be lucky to tip the scale at 40 pounds. We shut off  Rhino II and parked to enjoy the show!

Mom got up and decided to our delight that we had worked hard and that we should have a better look. The wander and stretch began and they closed the gap to 60 metres, deciding that a nearby sandbar would be a good vantage point to watch us from.

We spent another 20 minutes chatting and laughing in amazement before deciding to back up and let them be. Mom wasn’t bothered by us a bit. She never even stood up. Baby got up and checked us out one last time as we rode off into the sunset, with yet another shared piece of awesomeness…

for the memory banks.