Last year we did not stay at the cabin. Instead we spent two weeks at the farm and the rest of the time in Calgary. We have been here a week and I have some observations. It is incredibly dry. We have noticed green popular leaves falling from the trees and blowing in the wind. I have only seen one Franklin’s Ground Squirrel in front of the cabin. Whether the colony has been reduced or whether some are still denning I cannot say. We have not seen the Snowshoe Hare so far. For many years we only saw one. Two years ago we had a pair who produced several litters. Typically they take longer to habituate to the presence of us, dogs included. (one just showed up and was soundly barked at) I have not seen a Red Squirrel but we can hear them. I have seen a couple of Least Chipmunks.
Red Necked Grebes have nested in the slough in front of the cabin every year we have been here. This year the only visible nest seems low in the water and I have only seen one bird so I wonder if something has happened. There seem to be more species of ducks at least visiting the slough including Scaups, Canvasbacks, Buffleheads, Goldeneye, Mallards, Blue Winged Teal, and a pair of Ring Necked Ducks which is a new species for us. We have seen the Bald Eagle, Turkey Vultures and Franklin’s Gulls flying overhead. The first morning we were here I photographed a female Oriole on the porch and one or more pairs has been around most days. We also have had Hummingbirds, Goldfinches, Chickadees, and a female Rose-breasted Grosbeck at the feeders. There are Phoebes and a Robin nesting on the cabin. Again there do not seem to be any Barn Swallows. We have had three pairs nesting on the cabin in one year in the past. There appear to be Tree Swallows by the hayfield, as well as Kildeer, Song, Vesper and White-throated sparrows, a Catbird and a Great Blue Heron. The beavers are omnipresent the number of trees continue to decline.
I initially came to western Canada to participate in an archaeological field school excavating at Fort George, a Northwest Company post. Every year at the cabin I try to read some history books to expend my knowledge of the subject. Primarily these books focus the fur trade in western Canada and the culture and history of the indigenous people of Western Canada including the events of the North-West Rebellion. Sadly the discovery in Kamloops did not come as a great surprise to me. I would recommend the book Loyal till Death Indians and the North-West Rebellion by Blair Stonechild and Bill Waiser if you want to get a sense of the attitudes leading up to the situation we find ourselves today. I am currently reading Waiser’s A World We have Lost Saskatchewan Before 1905.