We finished our coffee on a little raised gravel beach in Baillarge Bay (more on that later when I get it all sorted out) and toured around Baillarge Bay for a while, looking for seal and then turned for home. Baillarge Bay is truly a spectacular setting. More rugged and narrow than Strathcona and Adam's Sound, it is completely walled with high mountains. An archetypal fjord. It was stunning laced with low clouds, softened by the steady rain.
The cliffs on Admiralty Inlet here are some of the most fantastic in the area. Almost out of the realms of fairy tales. Tall spires, figures on stands, hoodoos, all manner of shapes. Half shrouded in fog or low cloud it looked like the approach to Mordor, a stark, eerily beautiful spot in this weather.
Ship Point, or Umiarjuannuaq is the corner anchoring these two spots. a massive angular corner demarking the southern mouth of Baillarge Bay, like the prow of a huge boat. I often wonder how many people would throng to visit our landscape here if it was, say, an hour out of Toronto. Perhaps I should be grateful we are so far away, but it is sad that so many do not get to experience this magical world.
We had just turned out into Admiralty Inlet, after leaving a curious Bearded Seal in our wake, when someone noticed a patch of white at the base of Umiarjuannguaq. The white quickly resolved itself into a young Polar Bear. Upon the approach of our boat it turned and headed south along the base of the cliffs.
It traveled along at a steady lope, just ahead of us. We closed as near as the depth of the water would let us, perhaps 20 or 30 metres away, and followed it as it moved along the narrow path at the bottom. It continued on this way, occassionally huffing at us, but only rarely pausing and looking back. Then at a small valley emptying in to the inlet it turned and climbed away. Leaving its annoying visitors to their own devices.
Yesterday we headed out in the cold grey day in the face of a steady rain to go boating up Admiralty Inlet. Our goal was Baillarge Bay which is one of the four fjords that run east off Admiralty Inlet here (from north to south they are Elwin Inlet, Baillarge Bay, Strathcona Sound and Adam's Sound). Although it rained steadily, and was about 1 degree out, it was dead calm, and it was a fantastic day.
As we approached Ship Point we encountered our first, of several, Bearded Seal of the day. Too good of an opportunity to pass up we decided to try and take it.
So, if hunting isn't your cup of tea, or if the sight of blood and/or a huge dead animal is off putting for you, just enjoy the photo of a curious Bearded Seal from later in the trip (above). Don't venture below the fold where the rest of the story is.
A couple of days ago the bears were still hanging about Victor Bay (they're still there apparently). They were a long ways off but we had the best views from the new sewage lagoon. I was more taken by the bear watchers than the bears.
The bears are nice, but like I said, a long ways away.
While you can't always get what you want, some times you get what is pretty darn interesting in its own right. Two nights ago, we headed over to Victor Bay to see if we could get another look at the bears, but there was none to be found. They are still around though, and we got to see them again last night. There is, apparently, another of trio of Polar Bears in the area, a sow with a couple of smaller cubs.
But as we were motoring along, we did get an excellent look at another of our mammals. Travis (of course) saw it first, shouting that there was an avinga (lemming) under an old water truck tank that is used as a water tank for the campers of Victor Bay. It was instantly clear that it wasn't a lemming, but one of their biggest predators the weasel. I believe this is a Least Weasel, but my guide books are still somewhere in boxes.
This was one of our best looks yet of these quick, sleek hunters and I managed to get a couple of decent shots of it, despite the low light and high ISOs. The weasel slipped easily in and out from under the tank, checking us out when ever I'd squeak - looking for the strange wounded rabbit making all the racket. It had enough when I got out to try and get another photo, but they are quick and it was difficult to get a shot of it in the open, it rarely paused.
Luckily everyone had a long close look at the handsome beast.
With no Polar Bears in sight, and Travis clambering to go to the water lake to look for Char fry, we left Victor Bay and headed out there. After a short stop to confirm that the Pacific Loon was still incubating what must be a long dead egg, we went a little farther up the road to the inflow of the lake.
As we pulled off the main road two large birds were at the water's edge, feeding. After my initial shout that they were geese I quickly realized that they were actually a pair of Sandhill Cranes, a bird that no one in the truck but I had seen before. They were nervous at the appearance of the truck but settled quickly and resumed their foraging.
Foiled again by the lateness of the day and the lack of light, I managed only record shots of them. Grainy and shaky. As soon as we tried to roll quietly closer to them they took to the air. What was surprising, apart from their appearance, was that there was no chick with them. It seems as though the Pacific Loons aren't the only ones having trouble raising a brood this year.
We'd just finished supper last night. Well, we'd just finished cleaning up and lazing about last night when Leah's dad came in with news. Three polar bears were over in Victor Bay, and they'd been right near some of the tents.
It was like a fire drill, or a missile drill (um, is anyone else out there old enough to remember those? "The missiles are coming, hide under your desk! It was where I learned that you didn't need a fall out shelter, just a desk in your classroom. We dropped what we were doing, and rushed out to the truck, and beat a hasty trail to Victor Bay.
We did arrive in time to see them, but they'd left across the bottom of the bay, and made their way to and island/penisula. When we saw them they were crossing the ice, but soon climbed the island and crossed down the other side.
This is what we do for entertainment folks.
We hung around after most everyone left and were rewarded when we saw them on the ice at the far bottom of the bay. As they seemed to be hanging out there, we decided to get a different vantage point, and left for the new sewage lagoon project.
Now, I don't want to brag, but I live in a place with the most beautiful sewage lagoon in the world. Really. It is an awesome place, sitting on the saddle between Victor and Arctic Bays with spectacular views in both directions. I expect to go there much more often. Don't believe me?
The bears were still there, moving back and forth on a pan of ice, but they were even farther away from us.
So we satiated ourselves in all their northern glory and came back home. There is news that another sow with two smaller cubs are heading towards Victor Bay. Time to pile in the truck once again.