Story and photos by Temujin Johnson
The wheels on the plane had not even touched down and the guests already had their first polar bear encounter! Autumn at Seal River Heritage Lodge began with a warm welcome from more than just the lodge staff and guides, as a young female polar bear came to inspect the commotion of new guests arriving for the Fall Dual Lodge Safari!
Once the guests were out of the plane the bear slowly walked around to have a sniff at the flying machine. The guides kept a careful watch on her, as an inquisitive sniff could have quickly turned into a gentle nudge of the plane. And even from a small bear, a gentle nudge is something more like a large dent.
In a calm tone, head guide Andy MacPherson asked the bear, “Hey bear what are you doing there?” to remind her of our presence and to usher her away from the plane. The bear eventually realised her boundaries and moved on, but it was certainly nice of her to welcome the guests!
The following days were bear-packed. Six different bears were sighted on the second day between the morning and afternoon hike. A mother and cub of the year (COY) made a special but brief appearance. They were some two kilometres away from the lodge, which made for an adventurous walk down the tidal flats over the first formation of grease ice.
Only four chances left to see polar bears with us in 2018:
- Great Ice Bear Adventure Oct 29-Nov 4 – 1 single male share
- Polar Bear Photo Safari at Seal River Nov 6-12 (Shoot the Light Workshop) – 1 room and 1 male share
- Polar Bear Photo Safari at Seal River Nov 14-20 – 1 room
Snow started to fall during the hike and continued to do so through the following evening and morning, which left a thin blanket of snow on the tundra. The snow woke up our local arctic inhabitants and large flocks of white ptarmigan were seen, as well as Arctic hare and snowy owls. And don’t forget the polarizers! White-on-white with high contrast makes for beautiful noir photography, especially while the blacks of the tidal rocks are still visible.
Nightfall brought in a bear of many winters. Battle scarred and almost missing his left ear, he had surely sired many a cub. Using the lee of the lodge he strolled by and bunked down for the night right off the side of the lounge. The stories of his life could be seen in the scars on his face, and the presence of a younger and stronger bear around the lodge soon had the old veteran moving on up the coast.
From cubs of the year to masters of the Arctic it has been an action packed first week, with more new bears on the horizon.
It appears we have a great fall season ahead!