If I didn’t know it was only May 19th, I would say it is at least mid-June here in Alberta. A small contingent of our group arrived at Meanook early this year, and we are just driving back from Fort McMurray as I type. It has been in the upper 70’s near 80 for days, and we were just caught in a very summer-like downpour that came out of nowhere. The rain felt good. Sadly, with the heat comes mosquitoes… the big bomber-type are out and ready to bite through pants and protective long-sleeved shirts. I clapped one dead, opened up my hands, and it flew away unperturbed and chomp-ready for its next victim… these things are beasts. Already, myself, Nate, and Cara itch from the buggers, and I fear we are in for it early with the bugs. Usually, we can count on at least a couple of weeks before the nets come out, so we shall see. I’m sure it will be a rude welcome on Tuesday for the new members of our team when they show up.
Meanook is ready for them. Rooms are prepped, and April, the new cook for the summer, has our dietary restrictions noted, and is ready for the considerable challenge. This will undoubtedly be Meanook’s last year and I’m sure there will be more about that peppered throughout the summer, but for now, it remains a home away from home for me and for a contingent who has been coming here for several years. It is at least my 11th or 12th summer - I've sort of lost track. It has been an establishment for our research group since before I can remember and we have accumulated just as much equipment as one would think after so long a time. It is a nice place to hang your hat and with the Victoria Day holiday here in Canada, it is quiet, but that will change with a blink of an eye with the imminent arrival of several crews.
My last post included much about the birds and so I’ll just finish up on this long day by saying that we saw Northern Shrikes (yes, Shrikes, Kel!!) at EVERY site we visited on this quick trip north. It was good to see them eyeing us and chatting to their partners. White throated sparrows sparred with Chippings in feeding flocks rounded out with boreal chickadees and fat robins. Magpies bobbed from ground to fence and back and ravens are everywhere. We’ve seen several deer, a coyote, and have been serenaded by the comb-click of boreal chorus frogs. Thankfully, it is nearly summer for more than just the mosquitoes.
Safe Travels, crew! We will see you soon.