Nicola Naturalist Society – Winter events 2019/2020


Evening meetings of the Nicola Naturalist Society are held at 7PM in the Lecture Theatre of NVIT (Nicola Valley Institute of Technology) on Belshaw Road, Merritt. This fall our meetings will be on the third Wednesday of each month (instead of our usual Thursdays). Our evening meetings are free for members. We have awesome raffles.

We are now on Facebook. Check out our new Facebook page: NNS Facebook

Scroll down to see what is coming in winter 2019-2020

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

Merritt Christmas Bird Count –  Sunday December 15th

You don’t have to be an expert birder to participate in Christmas Bird Counts. Participants spend all or part of the day in a group covering a specific section of the 22-km diameter count circle. It is a great way to get to know the local winter birds and contribute to the world’s longest-running citizen science project. For more details on the Merritt CBC keep checking this website or contact

To check out photos and species from this 2019 Merritt Christmas Bird count click here: Merritt 2019 CBC

Evening Grosbeak –  these attractive birds are sometimes found on the Merritt CBC. Photo: ©Bonny Kozub

Thursday January 16th, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Paul Mozin –  Bat Inventory in the Nicola Valley

Paul Mozin is a biologist with the Nicola Watershed Stewardship and Fisheries Authority (Scw’exmx Tribal Council). This group has undertaken an ambitious project to inventory and monitor the bat species in the Nicola Valley. Paul will be presenting the results from last year’s bat inventory, some background on endangered bat species in the Nicola Valley and some actions their group has taken this year. Come and learn more about these important but poorly understood citizens of the night.

Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) photographed in the Nicola Valley during an inventory program (Photo: Alan Burger). Inset: bat box in the Shakan IR (Photo: Paul Mozin)

Sunday January 19th, 9 AM: Winter Tracking with Frank Ritcey

Join Frank Ritcey for an outing of hiking and observing tracks in the snow. Meet at 9 AM at the A&W Restaurant to car-pool. Destination to be decided, based on where the snow and tracking are optimal. There will be a fair bit of hiking but the first half hour or so will be relatively easy for those wanting a shorter outing. Others can continue for a longer hike to see more tracks. Winter boots and gaiters are a good idea – and pretty much needed for the longer walk. Bring food, hot drink, warm clothes and regular survival gear that everyone should pack when they are in the outdoors in winter.

Tracks in the snow – mouse (left) and snowshoe hare (right). Photos: ©Alan Burger

Thursday February 20th, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture TheatreEdyta Marcisz –  Territoriality, Movements or Landscape: What Determines Home Range in Bighorn Rams?

Originally from Poland, Edyta was drawn to Canada by its vastness, nature and wildlife. She is currently a graduate student at Thompson Rivers University and works in collaboration with Gerad Hales of FLNRORD (Wildlife Management). Using massive data sets collected from Bighorns fitted with satellite-tracking collars, she is looking at long-distance forays by rams in several Bighorn herds, and also the general distribution of these herds. Contact with domestic sheep is of particular interest, because recent declines in one Thompson Region population is thought to result from disease linked with domestic sheep.

Photo credits: Edyta Marcisz and Bob Scafe (Bighorn portrait)

Sunday 23rd February – our popular “Snow Bunting Shiver Sunday

Meet 9 AM at the Merritt Civic Centre parking lot to carpool. Bring lunch, binocs, camera, warm clothes and drink. Mostly by car – some short easy walks likely.

Every year we venture up into the Douglas Lake Plateau to check out the winter birds there. Snow Buntings and Rough-legged Hawks are regular features and in some years we have encountered Sharp-tailed Grouse and Grey-crowned Rosy Finches. Guaranteed wonderful winter scenery in the high grasslands.

Snow Buntings on the snowy Douglas Lake Plateau. These Arctic finches are regular winter visitors to our high grasslands. (Photo: © Alan Burger)

Wednesday March 11th, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Presentation by the Kamloops Exploration Group: Christopher West – Leafing Through History: Exploring the Fossil Plant Deposits of Western Canada.

[Note the change in dates – not our usual third Thursday of the month.]

Dr. Christopher West is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He has degrees in Earth Sciences and Paleobiology, including a PhD from the University of Saskatchewan. He has published research on late Paleocene and early Eocene fossil floras from the Canadian High Arctic, British Columbia, and Alberta. Dr. West’s research interests are focused on reconstructing ancient climates and ecosystems using plant fossils in order to better understand ancient forest ecosystems, and how these ancient ecosystems gave rise to the modern forest biome in North America.

Coming up in spring (details to come):

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology has cancelled all bookings of its lecture theatre for 2020. As a result, there will be no meetings for April, May and June. We will inform members and update this website if there is any change in the situation. – 17 March 2020

Thursday April 16th, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Joey Chisholm (Thompson Rivers University MSc student) – Habitat use by snowshoe hares, red squirrels and Northern flying squirrels in central British Columbia

Thursday May 21st, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Elaine Sedgman – Common Bees of the Southern Interior of BC

Thursday June 18th, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Jolene Cumming – The 1914 Naturalist Expedition to the Botanie Valley

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