Sunday, July 10, 2016

Touring the Tundra (Plus a School and a Shipwreck)

I have a difficult time capturing good images of animals in a zoo, so wildlife photography continues to elude me as a skill. Thankfully others were with me on the tundra buggy to make up the difference. Glory got some good shots of a caribou she named Snoopy, because of the dark eyes.,

As well as these sand hill cranes, tundra swans and a young bald eagle:

I even managed to get a still shot of one of the cranes using our camcorder.

Our driver Jim also pointed out a nesting arctic tern for us.

The camcorder is a bit more forgiving in some ways, and less in others; I find the lack of a viewfinder makes it difficult to track small objects at a distance, which often makes my footage look like part of a CNIB make-work project. I had a couple of small successes though:

No mater what time of year it is, if you are in Churchill, you owe it to yourself to take a trip on a Tundra Buggy. Make sure it is the real deal though; there are some imitators that are not even allowed onto the tundra proper!

The next day, my cousin Parker had generously offered us the use of his truck, so we struck out to Cape Merry, across the harbour from Fort Prince of Wales.

Next, we made our way to the Churchill Northern Studies Centre at the old rocket range, and a summer program assistant named Evan gave us a tour of the facility, including their aurora dome. I love the northern lights, and find the idea of watching them from inside a warm, school-like environment in a part of the world that experiences the aurora borealis ~300 days a year to be especially appealing. (The CNSC gift shop also has the broadest spectrum of t-shirt and hoodie colours north of the 58th parallel.)

The CNSC building

The Hudson Bay aquarium; all creatures locally sourced

Even by piscine standards, the sculpin is not a handsome fish
On the way back, we stopped in at Bird Cove and walked out onto the tidal flats, and everyone except Fenya and myself walked all the way out to the wreckage of the MV Ithaca. We couldn't do this on our last visit due to the combination of tidal times and a polar bear in the vicinity, but this time there was no such impediment.

 Glory was especially pleased at catching a couple of what she called 'Firefly' lens flares, without aid of a J.J. Abrams filter.

I had an ingrown toenail giving me grief, so I opted out of the latter half of the hike, but on my return trip, I found a fossilized snail bed that I really wish I had kept!

Afterwards, we had just enough energy to hobble over to the large inukshuk in Churchill itself, right by Hudson's Bay, to get some group photos before heading on to the flats where my cousin was barbecuing dinner.

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