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Churchill: Birds of the Sub-Arctic

Be part of the migration as we follow birds off the beaten path.

We include leisurely walks in the Boreal Forest, Taiga, Tundra and coastal ecosystems surrounding Churchill, Manitoba. Churchill is located along a migratory path of many birds. Here we find a wide variety of habitats ranging from wet & dry tundra to boreal forest, from willow & alder wetlands to freshwater rivers, creeks and ponds. Also here is the productive Churchill River estuary and the rich marine environments of Hudson's Bay. This tour includes full interpretation of the areas natural history, local culture and geology.

We include a boat trip along ice floes of the Churchill River Estuary looking out for birds and Beluga whales. In addition to our birds, possible sightings of wildlife include polar bear, caribou, ringed & bearded seal, red & arctic fox & arctic hare. Local naturalists Paul Ratson & Sheldon Olivier have lived and worked extensively on wildlife issues in Churchill. Together they have over 45 years of combined experience in birds and wildlife.


2018 Departure Dates and Cost

June 23 - 27, 2018

Tour Cost: $ 3,985 CAD / $3,190 USD + 5% tax
Single Supplement Cost: $ 300 CAD / 240 USD
Includes return airfare from Winnipeg/Churchill

Maximum group size 8

Early booking bonus $ 150 per person for bookings made by Mar. 1, 2018


Itinerary

June 23 WINNIPEG/CHURCHILL (L,D)
Morning flight to Churchill. 7:30 am / 9:30 am (pre-tour night is needed in Winnipeg)
On arrival you will be met by your local ornithology guide. On the way to town we will stop along the coast of Hudson Bay where we will look for shore birds and sea ducks. Check-in at the Bear Country Inn. Lunch at Gypsy's restaurant. We will then walk up the Churchill River shoreline looking for red-throated loon, Parasitic Jaeger, courting terns and other shorebirds. Return to town for a short orientation. Welcome dinner. At 7:00 pm we will visit the Harbour Board ponds by the historic Churchill grain port. We will observe a wide variety of shore birds, nesting Arctic terns, various ducks, and look for the elusive Ross's Gull.

June 24 BOREAL FOREST/TWIN LAKES (B,L)
Early breakfast and return to the Harbour Board Ponds to search for newcomers. We travel to Twin Lakes, a glacial Kame in the Boreal Forest, looking for chickadee, Spruce Grouse, other forest birds & wildlife. You will have the opportunity to see the transition of the Boreal forest to the tundra through the taiga. We will also look for Arctic foxes, caribou, lemmings, ptarmigans, owls and hare. Field lunch and return to town. Dinner on own.

June 25 HUDSON BAY (B,L)
After an early breakfast, we will drive along the Hudson Bay Coast at low tide to scan for Hudsonian Godwit, Sanderling, Semipalmatted Plover and long-tailed Jaeger. Enjoy a field lunch. Continue to the various coves and bays as the tide rises, looking to the waters for signs of pelagic birds and marine mammals. Return to town by 5:00 pm. Dinner on own. At 7:00 pm we will visit Cape Merry to look for King Eider and Harlequin Ducks. If you are up to it, watch the sunset at 11:00 pm.

in the afternoon head for the inland lakes (Taiga & Tundra areas) to look for nesting Pacific Loon, Smith's Longspur, short-eared owl. Field Lunch and return to town.

June 26 ICE FLOE /BELUGAS (B,L)
Join us for our season’s start up expeditions with birds, seals, and likely the first belugas of the season and of course ice! Beginning after June breakup and leading into early July this tour is perfect for the avid photographer, birder and any traveller looking to experience the Arctic’s awakening from winter. Churchill River breakup varies but usually occurs early to mid June. This is a beautiful opportunity for us to take visitors amongst sea ice in world famous military grade Zodiacs.

Past tours have produced close up sightings of three species of Jaegers (Skuas), Harlequin Duck, King Eider, Black Guillemont, Great Black – Backed, Sabine’s, Little and Ross’s Gulls as well as many more common birds in the area. A birder’s paradise to be sure!

However, this tour is more than birds, it’s a unique experience where you get to interact with the Arctic’s beautiful transformation into the much awaited summer. You get the opportunity to become part of an intimate environment, which is a lively soup of birds, seals, huge turquoise core ice shapes and possibly the season’s first Belugas. The ice breakup creates a tantalizing image spread as far as the eye can see across the Hudson Bay making for unique and haunting photographs.

Tide, current and ice conditions dictate tour times; please call for information on possible tour dates. Length of the tour – 2 hours. It is necessary for you to dress warmly!

During free time on any of the day - free to visit the Eskimo museum, Parks Canada Interpretation centre and shops.

evening flight 9:10 pm/10:50 pm Churchill/Winnipeg
Overnight. 

June 27   WINNIPEG DEPARTURE (B)
Departure. 

 

Testimonials

The beluga whales were lovely with their white forms gracefully arcing out of the water. There was a young man in another boat using a modified cello with a beautiful sound to wow both the whales and us with classical music. A woman employee with Parks Canada gave us an interesting and enlightening account of the Fort Prince of Wales, as well as being well versed in the natural history of the area. In the afternoon we went on a tundra buggy ride through a tundra beautifully lit up by the afternoon sun, and saw a variety of birds including Canada and snow geese, sandhill cranes, tundra swans, and willow ptarmigan just beginning to turn white. And after driving around some, we came upon a mother polar bear with a young cub. We also saw a couple of big lonely males while on the whale watching trip… A highlight for me in addition to the bears was a covey of arctic fox pups frolicking around in front of their den, while the parents kept a distant watch.

Thank you very much for arranging a wonderful trip.

Mary Andrews