Nicola Naturalist Society – winter events 2017-2018

Evening meetings of the Nicola Naturalist Society are held at 7PM, usually on the third Thursday of the month, in the Lecture Theatre of NVIT (Nicola Valley Institute of Technology) on Belshaw Road, Merritt. Our evening meetings are free for members. We have awesome raffles.

Scroll down to see what is coming up:  December 2017 through April 2018

For insurance reasons, our field outings are restricted to our members (visitors can join membership-for-a-day). To join the Nicola Naturalist Society click here: Membership Page

Saturday December 16th: Merritt Christmas Bird Count.

For photos and information on our recent Christmas count click here: Merritt CBC 2017

Rough-legged Hawk – this species winters in our area and is a regular on the Merritt Christmas Bird Count. They breed in the arctic tundra. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Wednesday January 17th 2018, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Jessica Urquhart – Salmonids of the Nicola Watershed: their habitats and health.

Note that this is Wednesday and not our usual Thursday evening.

Jessica Urquhart is a Fisheries Technologist with the Nicola Watershed Stewardship and Fisheries Authority (NWSFA), the “fisheries department” of the Nicola Tribal Association. Working with its member communities, as well as private property owners, the NWSFA undertakes an annual program of stock assessment and fish habitat restoration projects in the Nicola Watershed. NWSFA staff interact with other First Nations and DFO to advocate for the protection and restoration of the Nicola Watershed’s fisheries resources. With information provided by the entire NWSFA fisheries team, Jessica will discuss how the team plays an important role in the management of the salmonids of the Nicola Watershed.

The Nicola River supports several species of salmonid fish – some are threatened. Photos: NWSFA (river) and NOAA (salmon)

Thursday February 15th 2018, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Bruce Walter – Seeing the Light – A local eye

Merritt and its surrounds abound in natural splendor and local attractions that vary in scale and subject.  From stunning landscapes like Nicola Lake to burrowing owls and cactus blooms, beauty is in the “local” eye of the beholder. “I think that the beauty of this area is often overlooked in our daily lives, but when I have my ‘camera eye’ on I see this beauty and I am compelled to record the image.” says Bruce. “I enjoy spending my free time looking for photographic moments.  I can be found in the grasslands, at a local branding or on top of a mountain.”

In this presentation, Bruce will walk you through his creative process, from image capture to digital processing.  The emphasis will be a visual display of stunning images. Bruce’s photos can be found at:   and

Bruce Walter’s local eye (and camera) capture the beauty of Marquart Lake, near Merritt. Photo:© Bruce Walter

Sunday February 25th 2018 – Annual Snow Bunting Shiver outing

[NOTE THE CHANGE IN DATE – NOW THE 25th FEB] Continuing our winter tradition we will be heading up to the Douglas Lake Plateau highlands to look for Snow Buntings, Rough-legged Hawks and other winter specialties. Last year we had close looks at 11 Sharp-tailed Grouse. And yes – we do usually see some Snow Buntings!  Meet at 9 AM at the Merritt Civic Centre parking lot to carpool. Bring lunch, a hot drink, warm clothes, binoculars, camera etc.

Snow Buntings feeding on roadside seeds on Pennask Lake Road, December 2015. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Thursday March 15th 2018, 7 PM at NVIT: Don Gayton – Fire Ecology in Southern BC.

Don is a well-known ecologist who has worked on the roles that fire (accidental and intentional) has played in shaping our environment over the past centuries. How did Indigenous people work with fire before the arrival of Europeans? Why was 2017 such a bad year for wildfires? Don has explanations for these and many other questions about wildfires in our area. Not to be missed.

Ecologist Don Gayton has years of experience investigating the effects of fire on ecosystems in the BC interior. Photos courtesy Don Gayton.

Thursday April 19th 2018, 7 PM at NVIT: Jo-Anne Hales – Habitat selection of the Great Basin Spadefoot

Jo-Anne Hales is a professional agrologist and the Environmental Specialist for the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. She is also completing a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science at Thompson Rivers University studying the Great Basin Spadefoot (an amphibian species at risk) on the New Gold – New Afton Mine site. Come and hear about these charismatic little critters. Her talk was postponed in May 2017 due to the floods – catch it in 2018.

Jo Anne Hales is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable speaker on the charismatic Spadefoots. Photos: Leonard Sopuck and Jo Anne Hales

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