Nicola Naturalist Society – Fall and Winter events 2023-24

Evening meetings of the Nicola Naturalist Society are held once a month from September through May. We generally meet at 7PM on the third Thursday of the month in the Lecture Theatre of NVIT (Nicola Valley Institute of Technology) on Belshaw Road, Merritt. Admission is free to members. We have awesome raffles.

Field Outings are usually held in spring, summer and fall and are listed below. Members will receive e-mail notices too. Field trips are restricted to paid-up members (but visitors can sign up as a member for the day for a nominal fee).

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

Thursday September 21st, 2023, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: AGM and Members’ Photo Night

Saturday October 14, 2023: Mushroom outing with Michael Ebenal

Join local fungus expert Michael Ebenal on a mushroom foray. Meet at 12 noon at the Merritt Civic Centre parking lot to carpool. Outing will last 3-5 hours. Michael is planning to cook up a mushroom snack at the end of the outing. Please note: paid-up members only.

Photo: © Loekie van der Wal

Tuesday October 17th, 2023, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Alan Burger – Fruits & Berries: how plants manipulate animals for seed dispersal

Note the date change – Tuesday instead of our usual Thursday meeting.

Varied Thrush eating Mountain Ash berry. Photo: © Bob Scafe

Fall is a good time to talk about berries and consider how local plants use animals to distribute their seeds – in many unexpected ways. Alan Burger has been interested in plant-animal interactions for many years and has published research on this topic.

Thursday November 16th, 2023, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Mike Dedels – Grasslands of the BC Interior

Grasslands on Lundbom Commonage near Merritt. Photo: © Bruce Walter

Mike Dedels is the Executive Director of the Grasslands Conservation Council, and has a lifetime of experience in the grasslands, involving research, range management and
conservation. Grasslands are one of our most cherished and diverse local habitats but also one of the most threatened ecosystems in BC.

Saturday December 16th – Merritt Christmas Bird Count

You don’t have to be an expert birder to participate – the count is done in groups and there are always one or more experienced birders in each group. So this is a great way to learn the winter birds in the Nicola Valley. This will be the 25th Christmas Bird Count in the Merritt count circle.  To register please email:

Two of the highlight birds from the 2022 Merritt Christmas Bird Count: Northern Shrike and Great Horned Owl. Photos: ©Loekie van der Wal (left), @Alan Burger (right)

Thursday January 18th 2024: Frank Ritcey – Wild Wells Gray – Then and Now.

Historical and contemporary videos of naturalists at work in one of BC’s premiere wilderness parks. Frank’s father Ralph Ritcey was a pioneer in wildlife research in Wells Gray Park in the 1950s and 60s (including the original Jerry the Moose). Did they really lasso moose? Frank has edited professional movies of this early work and contrasts that with his own contemporary videos. A fascinating evening to be sure.

Wildlife researchers measuring a captured moose in Wells Gray Park, 1960s. Photo courtesy Frank Ritcey.

Friday January 26th: Creative Playground – 5:30-7:30PM, Merritt Civic Centre

Literacy Merritt is running this family event and the Nicola Naturalist Society will have an interactive display here – ideal for all ages. More information: click here.

Thursday February 15th 2024: Christine Rimmington – Lichens.

Chris is our local guru on lichens – those fascinating and diverse symbionts of fungi and algae. Lichens are often overlooked but play important roles in ecosystems including sequestering carbon, resisting invasive plants and providing winter food for wildlife. Lichens take you to special places – beauty, undiscovered treasure, adventure!

Lichens as an art form. There are several species of lichens growing on this rock creating art, as well as interesting biology. Photo: ©Christine Rimmington

Thursday March 21st 2024: Andrew Klassen – native and invasive freshwater fish of the BC Interior.

Andrew is the provincial fisheries expert based in Kamloops and an excellent speaker.

Kokanee salmon – a landlocked variety of Sockeye Salmon. Photo: US Dept Interior – Wikimedia Commons

Thursday April 18th 2024: Leanne Cleaveley – Nature Macrophotography.

Leanne has astounded us at past meetings with her stunning close-up photos of insects, spiders and more. She will share her knowledge of nature photography – illustrated with more of those incredible photos.

An example of Leanne’s macro-photography – a pollinating wasp. Photo: ©Leanne Cleaveley

Thursday May 16th 2024: Tom Willms – The Nicola Valley Beaver Project.

NVIT instructor Tom Willms is leading a project to re-introduce beavers to many local areas where they have been extirpated. Beavers are now recognized as a key to water conservation and flood control and are being re-introduced in many areas.

A beaver is released at Howarth Creek near Merritt in May 2023 and inspects its new home. Photos: ©Liz McDonald


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