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In August 2004 I visited a remote wilderness lodge on the western shores of Hudson Bay, 25 minutes north of Churchill by floatplane. While Beluga Whales are the major draw at this time of year, I was interested to see how easy it is to see Polar Bears in the area during the summer months. I didn't have long to wait for my first sighting as we spotted 2 large males from the air on the final approach to the lodge's landing lake, and the following day when I went out on a whale watching excursion in one of the lodge's rigid inflatable boats, there standing proud of the horizon, about 1,000 yards offshore, was a huge white bear perched on a semi-submerged rock close to the mouth of a river frequented in the summer by Belugas.

This adult male weighing around 1,100 pounds was in excellent physical condition, clearly having enjoyed a very productive winter hunting seals out on the ice floes, but was now employing a rarely before seen summer feeding strategy that I had heard about from the guides at the lodge. From his perch surrounded by only 4 feet of water he would attempt to pounce on unsuspecting Beluga swimming by in the shallows. I watched fascinated as he pawed the water apparently in nervous anticipation before "belly flopping" into the water, only to scramble back out onto his rock having been foiled again. This pattern repeated itself over and over again and although the bear was repeatedly unsuccessful, the sense that he wouldn't persevere with such a risky and energy sapping strategy if it didn't pay off from time to time from inescapable.

The following morning I looked up from the breakfast table to spot a Caribou stag approaching along the tidal flats. The lodge's huge picture windows in the dining room and lounge afforded the guests an excellent view as this lone male wandered right by the lodge. He looked a little moth eaten and emaciated but he sported a fine set of antlers and having never seen a caribou before, still looked quite magnificent in my eyes.

Siks-Siks - Arctic ground squirrels that spend 8 months of the year in hibernation - were a common sight around the lodge throughout my stay and kept us all entertained as they scurried back and forth collecting nesting materials while chattering loudly amongst themselves. Set against a backdrop of Arctic wildflowers many of which flower for only a matter of days each year, they proved to be very photogenic and co-operative subjects.


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