Wolverine sighting at Courage Lake

Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)

Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)

August 27, 2014 | by Christian Artuso | 1 Comments

Many of you will know how much I have poured my heart and soul into coordinating the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas over the past six years.  

Some of you will also know how much emphasis I have placed on point counting (an extremely useful method of surveying birds where one stands still for a fixed period of time and counts all birds seen and heard), having completed approx 2,800 for this project. After five years of summer point counts, on July 18, 2014 I prepared to do what I knew would be my last point counts for the atlas.

I was feeling a little nostalgic as I headed out at 2:30 a.m. for a 16-kilometre hike across the dimly lit tundra to get into the last reachable square from the cabin we were staying in. I wasn’t quite expecting the grand finale that my last morning counting would turn out to be. 

Early on, I got a brief look at a cream-coloured wolf. Then near the end of one point count, I noticed some odd behaviour from a female black scoter — calling agitatedly and flying in a circle before disappearing behind a sedge meadow…Then I noticed two little fuzz balls swimming quickly in the grassy edges towards the sound of her voice — this was the first confirmed breeding black scoter sighting for the project! 

As if that wasn’t enough, just seconds after I finished my final point count, put my notebook in my pocket and reached down for my day pack, I noticed a movement ahead of me…Incredibly, I was looking at my lifer WOLVERINE, a mammal I have dreamed of seeing for the better part of my life!

I quickly and quietly took out my camera and the wolverine continued moving in my direction, busily searching the edges of the little ponds for food and scaring the phalaropes and other birds. I got a series of photos of the wolverine running and jumping across little water channels, including the one below. I still can’t quite believe it! Not a bird oddly enough, but a truly magic moment (more tales and photos from the season to follow when the final field season completely wraps up for good in a few weeks). 

My first view was something like this — light-coloured fur moving through the low vegetation. It only took a second to realise I was looking at a wolverine!

The wolverine was foraging, apparently looking for birds nests by digging and sniffing along the edge of the many pools and streams. Fortunately, the animal looked up and even showed me its tongue. 

Here is a series of the wolverine running and jumping across the streams and around the edge of the ponds and scaring the phalaropes (story continues below the slideshow):

  • Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)
  • Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)
  • Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)
  • Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)
  • Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)
  • Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Wolverine at Courage Lake, Manitoba (Photo by Christian Artuso)

 

Eventually the animal kept on going (it completely ignored me the whole time) and disappeared, leaving me shaking at the knees!

This blog was originally posted at http://artusobirds.blogspot.ca. See the post and more photos here.

About the Author

Christian Artuso has a Ph.D. in Environment and Geography from the University of Manitoba

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