With the COVID pandemic as restrictive as ever, we are unable to hold our regular monthly meetings. “Nature News“, a sampling of local nature photos taken by our members, has always been a feature of our evening meetings. So we are moving that to this website …. here is the October “Nature News“, a wonderful representation of the biodiversity of the Merritt, B.C. area. Thanks to all who contributed photos!
A note from Bob Scafe: “And something new for everyone, Yellow Chokecherries, compared to the usual Red variety. Our down the street neighbor has a 12 ft shrub of Yellow Chokecherries. They didn’t have any interest using them, so I picked them, and Bev and I made Jelly with them. Sweeter than the red variety, they also have less juice, so require more water. The result is a lovely yellow Jelly, considerably sweeter than the tart red jelly. The tree is a volunteer, not planted by the folks living here, so where did this seed and resulting shrub, originate? My best guess is a bird dropping, as it flew over.”
Susan Newton got a surprise when checking nest boxes on Lindley Creek Road this summer. There was a dead mule deer right beside the Bluebird box. Much to the surprise of Sue who almost walked on the animal while checking the box. And several others were also interested in the dead deer ……..
Other Nicola Naturalist members also had interesting encounters with raptors. Here is a note from Tom Willms, who lives on the edge of Upper Nicola village, close to Nicola Lake: “We had a Peregrine Falcon in front of our place this morning. It had killed a Wood Duck but unfortunately it landed on the highway. I took a shovel and moved it to a safe location and the Peregrine eventually came back to finish breakfast.”
Later Tom’s father Paul came and got this great photo of the Peregrine eating the Wood Duck – now in a safe location ……
Our resident Lepidoptera aficionado Bob Scafe has been busy photographing and recording all the moths that are attracted at night to his porch light. His tally over five years is now up to 525 species – who would have guessed Merritt had such moth diversity? Here are a few of his latest finds.
Bob notes: “Hemlock Looper moth is having a break-out year, as far as numbers are concerned. As their names suggest, the caterpillars feed on Hemlock trees. Vancouver, West Van, and Hemlock ski area have had an 18-year high with clusters of thousands of moths seen at street lights.”
The next moth is more elusive and has an appropriate name: Phantom Hemlock Looper. Bob reports: “Phantom Hemlock moth is a new sighting this year. I have not seen this moth in my previous five years of moth watching. For 2-3 weeks this year, I caught 4-5 every night, and of course, I’m wondering what has changed. My moth people are just as confused as I am about this year’s activity. Perhaps it explains, in part, the Phantom name.”
Bob again: “The Ten-spotted Rhododendron moth also appears for about 3 weeks each September, and usually in good numbers, slowly building to 8-10 per night, then slowly, the numbers decline, till there are none. In most cases, the name of the moth is derived from the foods eaten, or characteristics of the species Caterpillar, not the moth.”
This next moth is a real beauty. Bob notes: “The October Thorn, is a September moth in the Merritt area, but is most commonly seen in October in the United States. It provides a welcome flash of golden brightness as it flies by the patio lights, and while it never appears in Merritt in great numbers, I will see 5 or 6 each September. A very fast and elusive flier.”
And a gorgeous big moth by another of our naturalist members ……
Time for some mammals. As always deer are a common sight in our area and sometimes a bit too familiar when they are in one’s garden …..
Bears are usually less welcome visitors in town. This little cub appeared in Logan Lake and spent an anxious hour wandering the lawns before heading back into the forest. The human residents spent an anxious hour wondering when Mum was going to appear, but she never did.
Tom Willms found this interesting hollow tree that had obviously been visited by a bear – perhaps an arboreal den?
One of the highlights of early fall is when flocks of Sandhill Cranes pass by on their southward migration. Their evocative bugling calls can be heard for miles.
And to end with another couple of photos of a falcon eating prey …..