10/15/2013 2:46:56 PM

My Favorite Season

By Valerie Abbott 

Whenever someone asks, "What is your favorite season?" I'm quick to respond: polar bear season! Yes, that time of year is really upon us and I can't wait until it starts.

Just imagine the sight of a lone polar bear, the wind howling across the open tundra, the snow blowing alongside him. Or maybe two behemoth bears sparring with one another. Then again, there could be a mother and her cubs trying to find a safe place to nurse. Yes, it is indeed the most wonderful season of the year.

Polar bear season is when the Western Hudson Bay polar bears gather at and near Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, to wait for the sea ice to form so they can return to hunting seals. It's also the time when many humans gather to watch, photograph, and study these magnificent animals.

During the migration, Polar Bears International® (PBI) conducts research and educational outreach from the tundra, including the popular Tundra Connections® webcast series—your chance to listen to leading experts and ask questions. And in partnership with explore.org, Frontiers North Adventures, and Parks Canada, PBI also offers live Polar Bear Cams of the migration, a sight you won't want to miss.

This year, as in the past two, I have been asked to help run the wild bear cams, which will air on the PBI website and on the explore.org site. This excites me so much. I look forward to being able to find polar bears through the lens, from the early morning risers to the ones that are still meandering close to dusk, looking for that place to hunker down for the night. The thrill is never gone when I find a wild bear—it's nature at its very finest!

Joining me in operating the cams this year is Will Wall, now in his second year, and some very enthusiastic newcomers. During the past year, these enthusiasts have been running some of the other cams offered by explore.org, most notably those at the Scandinavian Wildlife Park in Denmark that feature Ilka and her twin cubs.

This year we will have a new cam to offer the public. It's positioned near the Churchill River so that viewers around the world can watch as the bears begin their trek onto the ice. We will also still have cameras mounted on either side of the Tundra Buggy® Lodge, on Buggy One, and, as the season progresses, at Cape Churchill.

Please join us for some exciting live action and informative talks. The first Tundra Connections webcast is October 23 and the live cams will begin at about the same time.

After watching the bears, the next time someone asks, "What is your favorite season?" I predict that you will know the correct answer!

To view more of my Churchill photos, visit my Flickr page.

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