Spring and Summer 2018 – photos from our outings

Here are some photos from our spring and summer field outings in 2018.

Lundbom outing – Sunday June 3rd: Birds, Blooms & Butterflies

Six keeners showed up for this outing. We drove to the end of Lundbom Common and walked a 3 km loop through grasslands and forest. It was cloudy and cool so not many butterflies, although a few showed up later in the day. The blooms and birds were spectacular – many plant species in bloom (it is a very good year for larkspur) and good birding (48 species recorded). We ended our outing just as the weather changed and it poured rain.
For the list of birds seen click here: Bird list Lundbom 3 June 2018

Silky Lupine (foreground) and Arrow-leafed Balsamroot (background). Photo: ©Alan Burger

Conditions in 2018 are great for Upland Larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum) with huge swaths of violet-blue on the hillsides. Yellow Arrow-leafed Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) flowers in the background. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Silvery Blue butterflies (Glaucopsyche lygdamus) – female in the main picture, male in the inset. Photos: ©Alan Burger

Meadow Death-Camas Zigadenus venenosus (Left) and Silky Lupine Lupinus sericeus (Right). Photos ©Alan Burger

Bumblebee on a dandelion flower – Lundbom Common. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Two common flycatchers in the Lundbom area: Western Wood Peewee (left) and Dusky Flycatcher (right). Photos ©Alan Burger


Coutlee Plateau outing – Sunday June 24th, 2018

Local rancher and rangeland expert Wayne Schindler led us on an interesting drive around the Coutlee Plateau just southwest of Merritt up Midday Valley Road. With many stops along the way Wayne showed us the impacts of introduced weeds (knapweed, hounds-tongue, Dalmatian toadflax, cheatgrass etc.) on the grasslands and the efforts to control these with both natural predators (e.g., weevils to attack the knapweed roots) and selective herbicide use. Later we visited his woodlot on the higher reaches of the plateau to see the various ways in which the forest is logged and managed. We ended up at just over 1600 m elevation (6,000 ft) with great views of the hills and valleys around Merritt. It was a sunny, warm day with lots of wildflowers blooming so the butterflies were plentiful. Although this was not a birding trip we did record some interesting species and 28 bird species in total. For the bird list from this outing click here: Bird List for Coutlee Plateau 24JUN2018

A close view of the tall grass on the Coutlee Plateau. Photo: ©Anne Pang

Panoramic view of our group checking out the grasslands of the Coutlee Plateau. Photo: ©Anne Pang

Grasslands on the Coutlee Plateau are important grazing areas for local ranchers. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Rancher Wayne Schindler shows our naturalist group the weevil that is having some success in biological control of the noxious Spotted Knapweed. ©Alan Burger

Larva of the knapweed weevil in the root of the introduced pest Spotted Knapweed. Photo ©Alan Burger

Savannah Sparrow – one of the common birds of the Coutlee Plateau. Photo: ©Anne Pang

A Square-spotted Blue butterfly (Euphilotes battoides) sitting on a Parsnip-flowered Buckwheat (Eriogonum heracleoides). This butterfly is sometimes called the “Buckwheat Butterfly” because both the larva and the adult use this plant for food. Photo: ©Anne Pang

Parsnip-flowered Buckwheat (Eriogonum heracleoides) – a favourite plant for butterflies. Photo ©Alan Burger

Regenerating forest on the Coutlee Plateau woodlot. Photo ©Alan Burger

Tiger Lilies (Lilium columbianum) blooming in a forest glade on Coutlee Plateau. Photo ©Alan Burger

Lunch with a view – at over 1600 m on the Coutlee Plateau. Photo: ©Anne Pang


 

Posted in Past meetings, Photos, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nicola Naturalist Society – spring & summer events 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.

Field Outings: For insurance reasons, our field outings are restricted to our members (visitors can join membership-for-a-day for the short day-trips but not our summer camp). To join the Nicola Naturalist Society click here: Membership Page

Scroll down to see what is coming up:  May through August 2018


Saturday May 5th: Bluebird Nest Box Workshop in Merritt –

Vancouver Avian Research Centre (VARC) is taking over the bluebird nest-box route around the Merritt area, and is running a workshop for those interested in participating in monitoring these nest-boxes. Contact VARC for more details:  Phone (604) 218-1191 or email info@birdvancouver.com


Saturday May 12th: Bluebird Blitz @ Napier. 08:00 – 12:00 at Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area (Highway 5A).

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is sponsoring a birding tour of the Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area which supports a large diversity of iconic grassland birds. Bluebird boxes will be put up. Associate Professor Matt Reudink from TRU will give a special talk about his work with birds. Water and snacks will be provided, but you may want to bring some of your own. No toilets on site.

For details: https://events.natureconservancy.ca/al-event/bluebird-blitz-napier/


Thursday May 17th 2018, 7 PM at NVIT: Philip Gyug – Range Management in the Merritt area

We all love our grasslands but few of us know how they are managed and monitored. Philip Gyug is a graduate from UBC Okanagan with a degree in Earth and Environmental Science. In Merritt he works as a Range Agrologist for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. He works with range licence holders to promote sound management practices, monitor range health, and provide science-based decisions to achieve good range management plans.

Badgers, cows and cowboys – all iconic residents of the BC interior grasslands. Photos: ©Philip Gyug, ©Alan Burger


Sunday June 3rd: Birds, Blooms & Butterflies. Meet 8 AM at Civic Centre to carpool.

For this spring outing we will go to Lundbom Commonage. Gentle hiking and lots to see. Bring lunch, drink, camera, binoculars and clothes to match the weather. An early start to catch the birds and stay as long as you like.

Lunch under the trees at Lundbom Common. Inset: Western Meadowlark. Photos: ©Alan Burger


Wednesday June 6th 2018, 7 PM at NVIT: David Manning – The Old Man and the Vultures   [Note Wednesday and not our usual Thursday]

Dave, a senior from Pender Island who’s been birding for 60 years, became hooked on vultures when he stumbled upon a white fuzz ball of a chick peeking from its nest cave. His program on the three vulture species of North America, particularly follows one Turkey Vulture nest from mating to migration. His recently published Turkey Vulture book, same title as this program, will be available for purchase.

Dave Manning has just published a book on vultures – this will be the theme of his presentation too.


Sunday June 24th – Coutlee Plateau – outing with the Nicola Valley Round Table. Meet at 9 AM at the Civic Centre to carpool.

Local rancher and rangeland expert Wayne Schindler will lead us on a tour of ranchland on the Coutlee Plateau outside Merritt. He will show us examples of range and woodlot management with the emphasis on the effects and control of introduced species. There are places where the tenacious alien Knapweed appears to be under control. There are usually interesting plants, birds and critters in this area too.

Bring a lunch, drink and clothing to match the weather. The outing will likely be about 3 hours. Should not require any serious hiking.


Nicola Naturalist Society members’ camp, on the July 20-21 weekend at Frank Chisam’s campsite on Nicola River.

Situated on Fx Ranch Road off Hwy 8, half-way between Merritt and Spences Bridge, this is a sheltered and scenic spot right on the Nicola River with lots of nature to enjoy close by. There are many tent sites and also 8 hookups for RVs. Toilets & showers are available. Swimming hole just steps away. Hike or bike on the KVR trail right there.

Campers will need to register with the club and provide their own food and drinks. For insurance reasons only members can register. We are planning a communal pot-luck BBQ on the Saturday night. Members who are not camping and would like to join us just for that event are welcome too. We are planning a guest speaker and some hiking and non-hiking outings. Stay tuned and watch your e-mails and our website as plans evolve.

Here are a few photos of the camp site:

Spring flowers at Frank Chisam’s campsite.

These are a couple of the RV hookup sites at Frank Chisam’s campsite.

Just a section of the large field available for tent camping at Frank Chisam’s campsite.

More open field for tent camping with the Nicola River on the doorstep.

View of the Nicola River and KVR bridge from Frank Chisam’s campsite.

View down the KVR trail across the river from Frank Chisam’s campsite.

 


 

Posted in Features, Meetings | Leave a comment

Merritt Christmas Bird Count – December 2017

Good weather, many participants, a good selection of birds and one very surprising species were the features of the 2017-18 Christmas Bird Count in Merritt, held on 16 December 2017. This was the 19th CBC in Merritt, starting in 1995. We had 34 participants (close to our record of 35 people), recorded 65 species (above average) and 4,785 birds (well above average). For a complete record of the count data click here: Merritt Xmas Count data 1995-2017

Several species recorded their highest count totals ever:

  • Canada Goose: 782 (average is 206 birds)
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye: 59 (average is 27)
  • Hooded Merganser: 21 (average is 4)
  • Chukar: 22 (found on only 2 previous counts)
  • Hairy Woodpecker: 11 (average is 5)
  • Black-billed Magpie: 72 (average is 32)
  • American Crow:   347 (average is 72)
  • Varied Thrush: 5 (found on only 4 previous counts)
  • Common Redpoll: 376 (average is 45).

Varied Thrush is an unusual species to find in winter in Merritt – it had been recorded in only 4 of the previous 18 Merritt CBCs, but five were counted in 2017. Photo: ©Corinne & David Pitt

A record number of Common Redpoll (376 birds) was recorded in the 2017 Merritt CBC. Photo: ©Bob Scafe

The highlight of the day was the discovery of a Prairie Falcon in the Lundbom Commons area. This is now a rare bird anywhere in British Columbia and a first for the Merritt CBC. It will be interesting to see if any other Christmas count in Canada reports this species.

This Prairie Falcon was a first for the Merritt Christmas counts, and Diana Grimshire managed to get identifiable photos using her smart phone to shoot through a spotting scope. Photos: ©Diana Grimshire

Some species that had exceptionally high but not record high counts included:

  • Mallard – 1,384 (average is 981 birds)
  • Bald Eagle – 65 (average is 29)
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 28 (average is 16)
  • Rough-legged Hawk – 12 (average is 7)
  • Steller’s Jay – 34 (average is 13)

Red-tailed Hawk – a near-record high of 28 birds was recorded in the 2017 Merritt CBC. Photo: ©Bonny Kozub

As always in a Christmas count there were a few unexpected absences. In 2017 these species failed to appear:

  • Merlin – seen in 13 of the previous 18 CBCs in Merritt.
  • Blackbirds – not a single Red-winged or Brewer’s!   Normally we get about 100 Red-winged and 50 Brewer’s. A Red-winged was seen in the 2017 count week.
  • American Robin – seen in 15 of the previous 18 CBCs in Merritt.

And it is always good to see the more common but still lovely species that winter in our area ………

Hairy Woodpecker – seen on the Merritt CBC, 16 December 2017. Photo: ©Bonny Kozub

Evening Grosbeak – only three of these attractive birds were found on the 2017 Merritt CBC. Photo: ©Bonny Kozub

Posted in Features, Past meetings | Leave a comment

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: http://500px.com/Bdwalter/about   and   https://www.flickr.com/photos/bdwalter/

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

Posted in Past meetings | Leave a comment

Nicola Naturalist Society – Fall Events 2017

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 from October through December 2017

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


Thursday October 19th 2017, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: David Pitt-Brooke – Crossing Home Ground – A Grassland Odyssey Through Southern Interior British Columbia.

Author and naturalist, David Pitt-Brooke stepped out for a walk one morning—a very long walk. He covered over a thousand kilometres through the valleys of southern interior British Columbia. He went in search of beauty and lost grace in a landscape that has seen decades of development and upheaval. Based on his recently published book, David will speak about his journey’s experiences, including moments of discovery and re-connection with the natural world. David is an eloquent speaker and his presentation, combined with photographs from his journey and of the nature he encountered, is a real treat.

David’s  book will be available for purchase at the meeting. He is also the author of another noted book about Canadian wilderness experiences : Chasing Clayoquot – A Wilderness Almanac.


Thursday November 16th 2017, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Alan Burger – Wildlife in the Far North: Life in a Changing Arctic

Nicola Naturalist Society president Alan Burger regularly works as a naturalist/lecturer on a small ecotourist ship in the Arctic and Antarctic. In this presentation he shares his experiences and photos of wildlife and the environment in the High Arctic north of Norway (Svalbard Archipelago) & East Greenland. This area supports high densities of Polar Bears, and thriving populations of Walrus, Muskox, Reindeer, Arctic Fox and more. Plus dramatic glaciers & tundra flora.

Arctic Fox, Walrus and Polar Bear are among the typical species of the High Arctic. Photos: ©Alan Burger


Saturday 18th November, 10 AM – noon:  Nature hike with Norm Hansen

Join Norm for an easy walk starting at the Merritt airport (meet at the airport buildings on the far side of the airport from the Walmart site). Enjoy sagebrush and riverine habitats and some interesting ranching history.


We don’t have an evening meeting in December, but two popular events …

Saturday 2nd December 2 – 4 PM, NVIT Room L017:  Winter Bird Identification Workshop (for NNS Members)

Brush up on your identification skills for the upcoming Christmas Bird Count. Or improve your knowledge of the birds at your feeder. Come to the bird identification workshop led by Alan Burger. This will focus on birds likely to be seen in and around Merritt in winter. Beginner birders welcome.

Mystery Bird #1 Can you identify this bird? Scroll down to see its identity. Photo: © Alan Burger

Saturday December 16th: Merritt Christmas Bird Count.

You don’t have to be an expert birder to participate in our Christmas Bird Count. It is a great way to get to learn the local winter birds – each birding group has at least one experienced birder. Followed by a festive potluck for participants. If you are interested in participating and not already on the contact list send us an e-mail  nicolanaturalists@gmail.com

Mystery bird #2. This is a regular species in the Merritt Christmas Bird Count, but is not found in our area in the summer. Scroll down to see its identity. Photo: © Alan Burger

.

.

.

.

 

Mystery bird identification

Mystery bird #1 – Female Hooded Merganser – this species breeds in our area but is also found through the winter if there is open water on lakes or large ponds. Mergansers are ducks that are specialized for catching small fish and aquatic insects and have a long, narrow beak with serrations along the inner edges to help hold slippery prey.

Mystery bird #2 – Rough-legged Hawk. About the same size as the common Red-tailed Hawk, this species breeds on the Arctic tundra and migrates to our area in the winter. The black “wrist” patches on the underwing are the diagnostic feature, along with the barred tail, small head and beak, and feathery legs. Unlike Red-tailed Hawks the Rough-legged often hovers in search or rodent prey, as seen in this photo.

Posted in Features, Past meetings | Leave a comment

Nicola Naturalist Society outing to Kane Valley – 17 June 2017

We had a good turnout of 10 members to our trip to Hill’s Homestead and other parts of Kane Valley near Merritt. Here are a few photos and notes from the outing. Scroll down to see photos and find the flower and plant lists.

Nicola Naturalists climbing the hill at Hill’s Homestead, Kane Valley. 17 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

The attraction was the wildflowers – currently at peak flowering for most species. And we were not disappointed.

Checking the flowers at Hill’s Homestead, 17 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Arrow-leaved Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata). Photo: ©Bob Scafe

Upland Larkspur (Delphinium nuttalianum) [left] and Sticky Geranium (Geranium viscosissium). Photos: ©Bob Scafe

A pair of penstemon species: Shrubby Penstemon (P. fructicosus) [left] and Small-flowered Penstemon (P. procerus) [right]. Photos: ©Alan Burger

Meadow Death Camas (Zigadenus veneosus) [left] and Round-leafed Alumroot (Heuchera cylindrica) [right]. Photos: ©Alan Burger

Hillside dominated by Arrow-leaved Balsamroot and Lupine. Photo: ©Alan Burger

And when the sun came out and it warmed up a bit, we also had butterflies:

A brace of blues: Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus) [left] and Western Tailed Blue (Cupido amyntula) [right] in Kane Valley, 17 June 2017. Photos: ©Bob Scafe

Northern Checkerspot (Chlosyne palla) in Kane Valley, 17 June 2017. Photo: ©Bob Scafe

And lots of birds ….

A female Barrow’s Goldeneye with 6 young ducklings – Hill’s Homestead pond, Kane Valley, 17 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Turkey Vulture drifting over Hill’s Homestead, 17 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Common Loon on Upper Second Lake, Kane Valley. Photo: ©Bill Stowell

Willow Flycatcher showing off his back and front sides. Kane Valley, 17 June 2017. Photos: ©Alan Burger

An Eastern Kingbird, showing off the rarely-seen red spot on the top of its head. Photo: ©Bob Scafe

Looking for woodpeckers in an aspen grove, Kane Valley. 17 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

A male Northern Flicker at its nest – Kane Valley, 17 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

We found a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers feeding chicks at a nest – male [left] and female [right], Kane Valley, 17 June 2017. Photos: ©Bob Scafe [L] and ©Bill Stowell [R]

Finding a nesting pair of these uncommon woodpeckers was a real treat.

But the real highlight of the day came right after lunch as we headed down into the old-growth forest on the Hill’s Homestead loop. Sitting right over the road was this huge bundle of feathers …..

In the old-growth forest of Kane Valley on Hill’s Homestead loop. Photo: ©Alan Burger

It turned out to be a very cooperative Great Gray Owl. It allowed us to get great views and photos as it moved short distances from perch to perch.

Great Gray Owl in old-growth forest, Kane Valley, 17 June 2017. Photo: ©Bill Stowell

Great Gray Owl in old-growth forest, Kane Valley, 17 June 2017. Photo: ©Bob Scafe

Wow! Great sightings of a great bird.

Here are the flower and bird lists from this outing:

Flower list Kane Valley 17 June 2017

Bird List Kane Valley 17 June 2017

 

Posted in Features, Past meetings, Photos, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nicola Naturalist Society – Summer Events 2017

Scroll down to see what is coming up from June through August 2017

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

Monthly Butterfly Hunts

Join Bob Scafe to search for butterflies in the Merritt area. Mark your calendar – these are the outing dates (all Saturdays):

Coming up:   July 8th (note change in date to avoid conflict with the Canada Day weekend)   – going to the Douglas Lake grasslands.

Future butterfly outings:  August 5   and  September 2.

For all butterfly hunts: Meet at Civic Center to car-pool and depart at 9.30 AM. Wear  clothing to match the weather (layers), and dry footwear for walking in wet grass. A hat and sunblock are recommended too. Bring water, lunch, binoculars and camera.

For a report on our June butterfly outing click here: June 3rd 2017 outing.


Blooms & Birds – Kane Valley Outing

Saturday June 17th, 8 AM – 4 PM. Meet at Civic Centre to car-pool. Enjoy the wildflowers at Hill’s Homestead and beyond, and the birds in the lakes and woods. Bring lunch, binoculars, camera, walking shoes.

Hill’s Homestead is spectacular in mid-June with many different plants blooming. Photo: ©Alan Burger


Other field outings are being planned for the summer. Keep checking here.

Posted in Features, Past meetings | Leave a comment

Nicola Naturalists Butterfly Outing – 3 June 2017

After two cancellations due to cold, wet weather and no butterflies we finally had a good day with warm weather, some sunshine and a good selection of butterflies (and other things of interest). The outing went to the Douglas Lake plateau area, including Douglas Lake, Chapperon Lake and Rush Lake. Here are a few of the butterflies we found:

Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia) at Douglas Lake, 3 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus), Chapperon Lake, 3 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Arrowhead Blue (Glaucopsyche piasus) at Rush Lake, 3 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis) at Chapperon Lake, 3 June 2017. Photo:©Alan Burger

Persius Duskywing (Erynnis perseus) at Chapperon Lake. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Arctic Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) at Rush Lake, 3 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Common Roadside Skipper (Amblyscirtes vialis) at Rush Lake, 3 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Meadow Fritillary (Boloria bellona) at Rush Lake 3 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice) at Rush Lake, 3 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Common Alpine (Erebia epipsodea) at Rush Lke, 3 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

And a day-flying moth …

White-banded Black Moth at Rush Lake, 3 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

We also encountered other interesting insects:

Unidentified damselfly at Rush Lake, 3 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

A mayfly (Order Ephemeroptera) sitting on someone’s shoulder, 3 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Boreal Whiteface Dragonfly (Leucorrhinia borealis) at Rush Lake, 3 June 2017. Photo: ©Alan Burger

For information on other Nicola Naturalist Society outings this summer check here.

For more on local Nicola Valley area butterflies, check our butterfly and moth pages:

Know your butterflies and moths – Merritt BC

More butterflies and moths of the Merritt, BC area

Posted in Features, Past meetings | Leave a comment

Merritt now has a NatureKids BC club

We’re excited to know that there is a new NatureKids BC club in Merritt. NatureKids BC (formerly known as Young Naturalists Clubs) was established by BC Nature, but is now a separate society, running more than 40 clubs for kids across the province. NatureKids BC gets children outdoors to explore, play, learn about and take action for nature. Clubs are run by local volunteers and aimed at children ages 5-12 and their families. The vision of NatureKids BC is that children develop a love of nature, a lifelong connection to the natural world, and have the environmental literacy and skills to take action for nature. For more information go to their website:  NatureKids BC

BC Nature and it’s federated clubs, like the Nicola Naturalist Society, still plays a major role in supporting NatureKids BC, and most of the mentors who take the kids on outings are from BC Nature clubs.

The new Merritt NatureKids club is being run by Crystal Wallace and Roxanne Wallace. If you are interested in enrolling a child or family please e-mail:   merritt@naturekids.bc Membership is $25 per family per year.

The new club recently had its first field outing – led by Nicola Naturalist Society member Tom Willms, the group went birding up the Nicola Valley.

Members of the new Merritt NatureKids BC club on their first outing – birding in the Nicola Valley in early April. Photo courtesy Crystal Wallace.

The Nicola Naturalists look forward to working closely with the new club and providing mentors to help build up a love of nature in these youngsters.

Posted in Features | Leave a comment

Nicola Naturalist Society – Spring events 2017

Evening meetings of the Nicola Naturalist Society are held 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.

Scroll down to see what is coming up from April through June 2017

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


Thursday April 20th 2017, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Sarah Desrosiers – Sharing “Berried” Knowledge- the interrelationship between people and plants in the Canadian Arctic

Sarah Desrosiers is a local graduate student pursuing her degree at the University of British Columbia. She has worked with Inuit elders, youth and land users in the Canadian Arctic for six years. She is collaborating with communities to help document, preserve and promote traditional knowledge of plants for foods, materials and medicine. Sarah will discuss her involvement with a community-supported berry-monitoring program in Kugluktuk, Nunavut. She will also talk about the importance of building capacity for youth to engage with the local environment as a way for healing and well-being. This will be a very interesting ethnobotanical talk.

Sarah Desrosiers will explain the key role of berries in modern Arctic communities. Photos courtesy Sarah Desrosiers.


POSTPONED Thursday May 18th 2017, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Jo-Anne Hales – Habitat selection of the Great Basin Spadefoot on a disturbed landscape  POSTPONED

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.

Great Basin Spadefoot (Spea intermontana) male calling. Photo: ©Lennart Sopuck


REPLACEMENT TALK

Thursday May 18th 2017, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre:. Maps and Apps: The Principles and Use of GPS for Naturalists. Norm Hansen and Murphy Shewchuk will lead a presentation on understanding GPS and getting the most from your GPS unit or phone.


Field outings in the spring and summer:

Monthly Butterfly Hunts

Join Bob Scafe to search for butterflies in the Merritt area. Mark your calendar – these are the outing dates (all Saturdays):   [Outings on April 29th and May 13th were cancelled due to cold, wet weather and lack of butterflies]. Coming up:   July 8 (note change in date to avoid conflict with the Canada Day weekend),   August 5,   and  September 2.

For all butterfly hunts: Meet at Civic Center to car-pool and depart at 9.30 AM. Wear warm clothing, (layers), and dry footwear for walking in wet grass. Bring water, lunch, binoculars and camera.

CANCELLED April 29th Butterfly hunt:  locations – Fox Farm FSR, and Comstock FSR.      Vehicles suitable to cross cattle guards, gravel roads.  Most butterfly viewing will be on foot, from the road, with occasional ventures 10 m ( 30 ft.) into forest meadows (optional).  Expect to see:   Spring Azure Blue, Western Tailed Blue, Western Pine Elfin, Hoary Elfin, Stella Orange tip.  Possible sightings:   Silvery Blue, Freija Fritillary, Satyr Comma, Green Comma, Mourning Cloak, Milbert’s Tortoiseshell.

CANCELLED May 13th butterfly hunt:  locations – Douglas Lake Road, (1) Campground  (outhouses),  (2) Chapparon Lake, and  (3) Rush Lake. Paved roads, most of the way, some gravel sections, and cattle guards on DLR.  All butterfly viewing will be “park and walk” on generally flat surfaces.   Some areas may be damp.  Expect to see:  Freija Fritillary, Silvery Blue, Arrowhead Blue, Hoary Elfin, Western Elfin, Lorquins Admiral, Tailed Blues. Possible sightings:  Various Sulphurs, Boisduval’s Blue, Old World Swallowtails, Dreamy Dusky Wing, Painted Ladies (maybe).

June 3rd Butterfly hunt:  locations – Douglas Lake area (either Pennask Lake Road or Douglas Lake Road) Expect to see many species. For a report on this outing click here: June 3rd 2017 outing.

Check out Bob’s butterfly and moth pages:

Know your butterflies and moths – Merritt BC

More butterflies and moths of the Merritt, BC area


Annual Sandhill Crane Search on the Douglas Lake Plateau

Saturday April 22nd – meet at 8 AM to car-pool at the Merritt Civic Centre. Bring lunch, binoculars, camera.    Each spring we head up to the Douglas Lake area to look for Sandhill Cranes. Thousands of these big cranes migrate through this area each spring, but it is a matter of luck to be there as they pass through or stay over to feed. In 2013 we encountered over 2,500 cranes but in some other years only 2 to 4. But there is a lot to see even if we see few cranes – lots of waterfowl, raptors, deer, coyotes etc.

Sandhill Cranes on the Douglas Lake plateau in 2013. Photo: © Alan Burger


Blooms & Birds – Kane Valley Outing

Saturday June 17th, 8 AM – 4 PM. Meet at Civic Centre to car-pool. Enjoy the wildflowers at Hill’s Homestead and beyond, and the birds in the lakes and woods. Bring lunch, binoculars, camera, walking shoes.

Hill’s Homestead is spectacular in mid-June with many different plants blooming. Photo: ©Alan Burger


Other field outings are being planned for the spring and summer. Keep checking here.

Posted in Features, Past meetings, Uncategorized | Leave a comment