What are some of the things I learnt from my trip to Churchill? A good set of clothing for a start, a sturdy pair of boots and lots of layers of clothing, the same combination I would wear on a cold frosty or wet day in Vancouver. Even though I was out on the Tundra for ten hours at a time I was never cold. One moment the wind off Hudson Bay would be bitter cold then the winds would drop and the temperatures would rise several degrees. There were no bugs during my visit but by mid-June onwards you'll need both insect repellent and sunscreen.
As for photography the most important was to have at least three sets of batteries, one in camera, one ready to go and another in an inside pocket keeping warm. It wasn't always that cold, there were days of sun and there were also snow flurries so an exposed camera sitting on a tripod soon had depleted batteries. Whenever I changed locations I would put the battery packs on the truck dash to warm up, it seemed to work. I would also take along a plastic garbage bag or two, one to lie on and to get lower angles of your subject and one to cover your camera when not in use or between locations. The same as you would on an African Safari as the Churchill roads were beginning to get a little dusty and you don't want to have to clean your sensor every night.
As for timing your trip the best time is when you are there. Weather can be unpredictable. This year Spring was late but the birds still arrived on time, they were just less active and hungrier. The first day I could hardly find a bird, but slowly I began to see the little movements, hear the warblers singing and spot the Ptarmigan. I believe patience is the key.
|Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)|
|Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus Lagopus) in spring moulting phase.|