Saturday, September 8, 2012

Coburg Island - Polar Bear!

Heads up! This'll be a photo-heavy post (in case you haven't discovered it yet, you may click on images to see larger versions)!

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Traveling further north now, we arrive at Coburg Island, situated at the eastern entrance to Jones Strait, between the open water of Baffin Bay, Ellesmere Island and Devon Island.

Thick-billed Murre

Clipper Adventurer at Anchor

This is one of a couple of non-landing zodiac excursions we took from the Clipper Adventurer, and it was on calm seas, to view the nesting areas of millions of birds - I'm told they are mainly Black Gillimots, Thick-billed Murres, Kittiwakes, and Northern Fulmars.

Incredibly tall, beautiful cliffs awed us, but this time there was a lot more greenery to be seen - surprising/unexpected considering how much further north we had traveled!

As a photographer, there's one thing I always try to remember is: "Look behind you!" Often, as happened today, we're so enthralled by the expected "action" that we forget to look around and see what's all around us, the big picture. This is the photo I took when I briefly turned my back on those busy cliff faces - love it!

I was in one of the first zodiacs to hit the water. We were tootling along, looking at the breathtaking view of countless birds nesting, courting, flying, feeding, swimming, baby-sitting, not expecting what we heard on the radio from two zodiacs behind us: "Polar Bear!"

Yes, up on the cliff, in a nook hidden from our vantage point on the water, a polar bear had been sleeping. Perhaps the noise of our outboards eventually woke him? This is the only polar bear we saw on the cruise.

Unfortunately, I happened to be aboard the zodiac that had engine trouble - shortly after we returned to the spot where the bear was doing his thing, the engine's transmission crapped out and we were at the mercy of the current - drifting further and further away! So frustrating, but still I got some fairly decent shots!

Snoozing in his Erie

(Polar Bear in Top Right Corner of This Photo!)

Some of him feeding (looks like Thick-billed Murre chicks were the easiest to catch) ... these photos are heavily cropped so please forgive the poor quality:

Some of him climbing (in an almost-human manner that made the large mammal specialists among us very excited!):

Eventually a tow-boat arrived and we limped back to the ship. The upside is that we got a lot more opportunities for "big picture" photos than many of the other guests did! (Remember to keep your mouth closed when you look up, in this situation!)

Back aboard, it wasn't long before our handy crew had weighed anchor and we were on our way to our next stop, Grise Fjord, but you'll have to wait for the next edition for that!

Our Faithful Escort of Northern Fulmars Awaits Departure

Some of the Crew Grab a Well-Earned Break

Tom Brings a Gaggle of Passengers back to the Ship

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