Monday, March 14, 2011

Polar Bear Photo Safari Day Six. Triplets!...

I didn't get a chance to see triplets last year and have been looking forward to it. Finally today we hit pay dirt!

It snowed a couple inches last night which meant that all the old tracks would be covered over and that only the freshest tracks from the morning would be seen. We started out by finding two day dens and a main den with tracks coming and going from each, but not leaving the area. We set up and waited for a couple hours. The backdrop was perfect. The lighting was perfect. Triplets would be the tri-fecta. Unfortunately the bears never came out of their den.
Polar Bear Den

After a couple hours we got a call that Morris had found a mother and cub about 8 miles away. We packed up and headed out. On the way, we found more tracks. A mother and triplets. We followed the tracks and found the mother and cubs. She rested in a day bed surrounded by spruce. It wasn't a view that showed off her cubs really well, but one by one they did pop their little heads up. The smallest cub was just a little runt, about half the size of the other two. After a couple hours, mom got up and took her cubs up the hill. The pictures on the way were pretty good. The ABC guys got stunning video footage of the mom and little ones. Perfect timing too as they are catching the train to Churchill at 3:30a.m. tomorrow morning. All in all a great day. We never did make it to the single cub that Morris had found and I'm not sure that the mom and cubs that we were watching for this morning came out of their den. By the time we drove by it was dark, so it was difficult to see if there were more tracks leading out of the den or not.
Triplets! The third bear was just tiny. About half the size of the other two.

I got a refresher from Mike, the owner of the lodge on what 'Watchee' means and the history of it. Mike's family owns this land and the lodge was built by the Canadian Navy. They used it, then left  it. Mike and his brother Morris decided to use the lodge as a polar bear safari lodge for moms and cubs. Although their father thought it sounded strange, he gave his blessing and today the lodge has a long waiting list of people wanting to get in each year. Watchee means trees on a hill. The lodge is at the top of a hill surrounded by trees.
New Edit:
The ABC piece from this safari day ran on nightline. You can see it here: 
Tomorrow. Day 7 of 8. I have a good feeling about tomorrow. The forecast is supposed to be similar to today... Which by the way was sunny and the thermometer showed -13 this morning. I dressed a little down thinking it would be warm. Although it wasn't bad, with the wind it certainly wasn't balmy. My fingers are still burning from trying to change a camera card.
Pictures from my polar bear safari in 2010 and 2011 may be found at my new website here:

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