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

 

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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 Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park.

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Merritt Christmas Bird Count – December 2016

An eventful Christmas Bird Count this year! Despite the recent frigid weather we had a record number of participants (36 people) and tallied a record number of individual birds (7,026, which is almost double our average count). The number of species tallied – 71 on the count day and three others in the count week – is also well above average and close to the record.

The full data set for this year’s bird count can be seen by clicking here: Merritt Xmas Count data 1995-2016

But the most exciting part of the count was the discovery of a really rare bird for B.C. – a Lesser Goldfinch. Sharp-eyed Vic Newton first noticed this unusual bird as he and the others in Liis Jeffries’ group were checking out the Colletville area. Vic’s daughter Jennifer then managed to get this good photo using her iPhone focused through a spotting scope. Various experts later identified this as a Lesser Goldfinch.

A male Lesser Goldfinch found on the December 2016 Christmas Bird Count in Merritt. Photo: © Jennifer Newton

There have been only about 20 records of this species in British Columbia ever. At this time of year it should be in Mexico, California or coastal Oregon. It was first seen among a flock of the American Goldfinches – a common resident of the Merritt area and a regular in the Christmas Bird Count. The discovery of this Lesser Goldfinch in Merritt caused excitement in the BC birding scene and many hard-core birders are likely to come to Merritt to tick it off. The bird was later seen by others in the week following the CBC.

The Merritt Lesser Goldfinch on 21 December 2016, 3 days after our Christmas Bird Count. Photos: ©Alan Burger

Other unusual species found this year:

  • Wilson’s Snipe – 3 seen (only the third record over 18 years)
  • Chukar – 6 seen (3rd record for a count day)
  • Horned Lark – 35 seen (3rd record for a count day)
  • Western Meadowlark – 2 seen (4th record)
  • Canvasback – 3 seen (4th record)
  • A hybrid Barrow’s x Common Goldeneye (the white eye patch of this male was half way between the circle of the Common and the inverted comma shape of Barrow’s)

A Chukar – one of a covey of 6 found near Harmon Estates on the Merritt Christmas count. This introduced Himalayan partridge has fluctuating populations in our area. Photo: ©Murphy Shewchuk

Horned Lark at a feedlot near Nicola village on 18 December 2016. The pale plumage shows that this is a migrant from the far north and not the local breeding race of this species. Photo: © Rick Howie

Western Meadowlark – one of two found on the Merritt Christmas Bird Count, 18 Dec 2016. Photo: ©Rick Howie

Record high counts were reported for many bird species this year, including:

  • Common Loon – 5 seen (previous high 4 birds)
  • Pied-billed Grebe – 7 (6)
  • Bufflehead – 111 (45)
  • Hooded Merganser – 10 (6)
  • Ruffed Grouse – 9 (4)
  • Eurasian Collared Dove – 228 (115)
  • Northern Flicker – 45 (44)
  • Downy Woodpecker – 9 (6)
  • American Crow – 165 (139)
  • Common Raven – 193 (139)
  • Bohemian Waxwing – an amazing count of 2,009 birds with one flock of over 1,500 birds (previous high 1221 birds)
  • European Starling – 733 (563)
  • Dark-eyed Junco – 190 (135)

Part of the huge flock of Bohemian Waxwings, estimated to be 1,500 birds, in Diamondvale in the late afternoon. Photo: ©Jennifer Newton

Eurasian Collared Dove – this introduced species was unknown in Merritt before 2009 but is now increasing here and across southern BC. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Raptors were especially common this year with high counts for these species:

  • Bald Eagle – 74 (previous high 56)
  • Golden Eagle – 3 (close to the record count of 4 birds)
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 52 (previous high 26)
  • Rough-legged Hawk – 16 (previous high 10)
  • American Kestrel – 3 (previous high 2)

We failed to find any Merlin this year – the first time in 12 years that we missed this species.

One feature of this year’s count was the great variety in plumage types for the Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks. Groups often had to look very carefully to identify the species, especially since both of these hawks were often found in the same open fields. Here are a few samples of the hawks seen on the 18th.

Red-tailed or Rough-legged? This dark hawk presents identification problems, but the barred vent, bare legs and large head & beak indicate a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk. Photos: ©Marg Kerridge.

A dark Red-tailed Hawk with the reddish tail indicating that it is an adult bird. Photo: ©Bonny Kozub

A juvenile Red-tailed Hawk (left) and a dark-phased Rough-legged Hawk (right) photographed in the same field near Quilchena. Note the diagnostic dark wrist patches on the Rough-legged Hawk. Photos: ©Alan Burger

A juvenile Bald Eagle in a snowy landscape. Photo: ©Carol Madryga

A pale Red-tailed Hawk photographed using a cell-phone focused through a spotting scope – a great way to identify birds. Photo: ©Jennifer Newton

The only owl recorded was this tiny Northern Pygmy Owl seen near Foxfarm Road. Photo: ©Glenn Dreger

Of course, part of the enjoyment of a Christmas Bird Count is being outdoors with good company and sharing interesting wildlife experiences.

Lynne, Katharine and Murphy among the frost-laden trees above Nicola Lake. Photo: ©Rick Howie

Gerry and Jack scanning the Nicola River for dippers. Photo: ©Carol Madryga

Creeping up on a Great Blue Heron at the Merritt settling ponds. Photo: ©Anne Pang

A cold-looking Great Blue Heron at the Merritt settling ponds. Photo: ©Anne Pang

Ducks in the mist at the Merritt settling ponds. Photo: ©Anne Pang

A Great Blue Heron takes off at the Merritt settling ponds. Photo: ©Anne Pang

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Nicola Naturalist Society – Winter & 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 January through May 2017

To join the Nicola Naturalist Society click here: Membership Page


Sunday 15th January – Nicola Valley Swan/Eagle count with Wayne Weber
Meeting place & time:  Merritt Civic Centre at 08:30 to car-pool.

Each year there is a mid-winter count of swans and eagles in the Southern Interior of B.C., with participants from many areas. A few members of the Nicola Naturalists have participated in past years.
Because of increasing interest by birders, in 2017 and future years, Wayne is organizing a special outing with all NNS members welcome to join in.
Duration: About 8:30 AM to 4 PM. (The count should take all or most of the day). Please bring a lunch and a hot drink!  Leader:  Wayne Weber
Area covered: Nicola River from Merritt to Nicola Lake; entire shoreline of Nicola Lake; Nicola River from Nicola Lake to Spahomin (Douglas Lake); Nicola River up to Douglas Lake P.O.  (NOTE: The Nicola River from Merritt west to Spences Bridge will be covered by a separate group, and will not be part of the main field trip.)


Thursday January 19th 2017, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Tracy Wimbush (Nicola Tribal Association) –  Salmon and salmon habitat in the Nicola Valley

The Nicola River system is the breeding site of important stocks of salmon, some of which are seriously depleted and threatened. Salmon are an important focus for local First Nations in the Nicola Valley. Tracy Wimbush is the program manager for the Nicola Tribal Association. She also works closely with the Nicola Lake Steering Committee, BC First Nations Fisheries Council, Esk’kn’am Management Committee, and is the Mandated Representative for two bands on the Fraser Salmon Management Council. She has been actively working to conserve and rebuild the local Early Chinook Stock that return to the Nicola System. Her talk will be about the chinook and the work around them.

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Chinook Salmon heading to spawning grounds. Photo: NOAA Fisheries


Thursday February 16th 2017, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Frances Backhouse (biologist and author) –  “Once they were hats” The biology of beavers and their role in Canada’s history.   

[This presentation was postponed – we’ll try to schedule it later this year]

Frances Backhouse has published books on a wide range of nature topics, including owls and woodpeckers, and also on historical topics such as the women in the Klondike gold rush. Her latest book examines humanity’s 15,000-year relationship with Castor canadensis, and the beaver’s even older relationship with North American landscapes and ecosystems. This will be a fascinating presentation blending biology and history.

backhouse-beaver-book


Thursday March 16th 2017, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Bob Scafe – Butterflies and moths of the Nicola Valley, Part Two.

Bob is an active member of the Nicola Naturalists, a keen photographer and a very enthusiastic investigator of  butterflies and moths. Bob’s presentation on this topic was very popular so we’re getting him back with new photos and new information on these colorful insects. Bob’s documentation of our local butterflies and moths is a popular feature of the Nicola Naturalist Society website – check here and here. Come and see great photos and learn about these interesting members of the Nicola Valley area fauna.

Two-tailed Swallowtail butterfly. Photo: © Bob Scafe

Two-tailed Swallowtail butterfly. Photo: © Bob Scafe


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.

 

Thursday May 18th 2017, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: To be announced – keep checking here

 

Coming up 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):   April 29,   May 13,   June 3,   July 1,   August 5,   and  September 2. Meet at Civic Center at 9.30 AM unless another meeting spot has been arranged. More details to come – see our spring newsletter and this website.

Check out Bob’s butterfly and moth pages:

Know your butterflies and moths – Merritt BC

More butterflies and moths of the Merritt, BC area

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Nicola Naturalist Society – Fall Events 2016

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 September through December 2016

To join the Nicola Naturalist Society click here: Membership Page


Thursday September 15th 2016 (7 PM at NVIT): Annual General Meeting and Members’ Photo Night.

We keep the business meeting short to leave plenty of time to view excellent photos of local wildlife and nature. See great photos on the big screen at NVIT!

A sample of NNS members photos coming up at the September meeting: Beetle (© Bob Scafe), Bighorn youngster (© Alan Burger), Mariposa Lily (© Cindilla Trent), Canada Geese (© Bonny Kozub).

A sample of NNS members’ photos coming up at the September meeting: Beetle (© Bob Scafe), Bighorn youngster (© Alan Burger), Mariposa Lily (© Cindilla Trent), Canada Geese (© Bonny Kozub).


Thursday October 20th 2016 (7 PM at NVIT): Dr. Rob Higgins: The Ants of British Columbia: Ecological Giants.

Ants are one of the most successful groups of animals on the planet. About 15,000 species have been described and they contribute more biomass to most ecosystems than any other animal group. Dr. Rob Higgins is an entomologist at Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops – a keen naturalist and an enthusiastic speaker. He will describe this diversity of ants and the ecological roles that ants play in British Columbia. He will also talk about new arrivals – the fire ants – that are overshadowing our native species.

Formica aserva ants, a widespread species in Canada, with their pupae. Photo courtesy Rob Higgins

Formica aserva ants, a widespread species in Canada, with their pupae. Photo courtesy Rob Higgins


Thursday 17th November 2016 (7 PM at NVIT) T.J. Gooliaff (UBC Okanagan): Potential Range Shift of Bobcats and Lynx in BC.

T.J. Gooliaff is a graduate student at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna. He is studying Bobcat and Lynx distributions in the BC Interior. Climate change is causing numerous species across the planet to shift their range to higher latitudes and elevations. Using historic harvest records and sightings, T.J. is analyzing whether Bobcats and Lynx are among those species moving northwards. He is also using photographs submitted by the public to map the current provincial distribution of both species. This will be a fascinating presentation on these elusive cats.

Bobcats in the Merritt area. Photos: © David & Corinne Pitt (left), Gerry & Jill Sanford (right).

Bobcats in the Merritt area. Photos: © David & Corinne Pitt (left), Gerry & Jill Sanford (right).


Thursday, 1st December (7 PM at NVIT). Documentary presentation by the Wilderness Committee, co-hosted by the Nicola Naturalist Society: Toad People.

This new documentary focuses on the need for Endangered Species legislation in British Columbia and how threatened species like the Western Toad are not getting the protection they need in this province. Excellent footage and a strong message. By donation to the Wilderness Committee.

toad-people-final_640x640-300x300


Saturday 10th December 2 – 4 PM, NVIT Room L017 – Winter Bird Identification Workshop

Do the birds at your feeder sometimes confuse you? Do you need to brush up on identification for the upcoming Christmas Bird Count? 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.

American Goldfinch in winter plumage. Photo © Bob Scafe

American Goldfinch in winter plumage. Photo © Bob Scafe


Sunday 18th December. 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

A male House Finch in winter, Merritt, BC. Photo: © Bob Scafe

A male House Finch in winter, Merritt, BC. Photo: © Bob Scafe


Coming up in 2017:

Thursday January 19th 2017, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Tracy Wimbush (Nicola Tribal Association fisheries biologist): Salmon and salmon habitat in the Nicola Valley

Thursday February 16th 2017, 7 PM at NVIT Lecture Theatre: Frances Backhouse (author of the recent book on beavers): “Once they were hats” The biology of beavers and their role in Canada’s history.

More presentations in March, April and May.

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Outing with Vermilion Forks Naturalists – 5 June 2016

On a beautiful warm spring day 16 members of the Nicola Naturalists joined with 12 members of the Vermilion Forks Naturalists (Princeton) for an excellent day of hiking and naturalizing on the Seven Half Diamond Ranch. This location is about half way between Merritt and Princeton and has beautiful lakes, small ponds, grassland, forest and much more. We enjoyed spring wildflowers, numerous singing birds and several broods of goslings and ducklings in the ponds. Huge groups of Western Toad tadpoles were found in the shallows of Batstone Lake and nearby was a large and colourful Western Terrestrial Gartersnake – no doubt preying on the tadpoles. Below are some photos from participants.

Many thanks to Jim and Heather O’Connor of the Seven Half Diamond Ranch for allowing us to roam your beautiful property. To see more about this guest ranch click here: Seven Half Diamond Ranch.

To see the full list of birds and other animals recorded click here: Critter List 5 June 2016

A good turnout from our 2 nature clubs at Seven Half Diamond Ranch. Photo: © Anne Pang

A good turnout from our 2 nature clubs at Seven Half Diamond Ranch. Photo: © Anne Pang

Exploring Batstone Lake on Seven Half Diamond Ranch. Photo: © Anne Pang

Exploring Batstone Lake on Seven Half Diamond Ranch. Photo: © Anne Pang

Part of the mass of Western Toad tadpoles in Batstone Lake. Photo: © Bonny Kozub

Part of the mass of Western Toad tadpoles in Batstone Lake. Photo: © Bonny Kozub

One of the many butterflies we encountered on 5 June at Seven Half Diamond Ranch. Photo: © Anne Pang

A Boisduval’s Blue (Icaricia icarioides), one of the many butterflies we encountered on 5 June at Seven Half Diamond Ranch. Photo: © Anne Pang

A pair of Lesser Scaup (male left, female right). Photo: © Bonny Kozub

A pair of Lesser Scaup (male left, female right). Photo: © Bonny Kozub

This Tree Swallow was nesting in a hollow in an aspen tree - possibly an old woodpecker nest. Photo: © Bonny Kozub

This Tree Swallow was nesting in a hollow in an aspen tree – possibly an old woodpecker nest. Photo: © Bonny Kozub

A beautiful Red Columbine flower (Aquilegia formosa). Photo: © Deb Stowell

A beautiful Red Columbine flower (Aquilegia formosa). Photo: © Deb Stowell

Several pairs of Killdeer breed next to the lakes and ponds on the ranch. Photos: © Bonny Kozub

Several pairs of Killdeer breed next to the lakes and ponds on the ranch. Photos: © Bonny Kozub

Cows are part of the ecosystem at a working ranch. Photo: © Bonny Kozub

Cows are part of the ecosystem at a working ranch. Photo: © Bonny Kozub

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Winter/Spring Programs – January to May 2016

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 January through May 2016

Thursday, January 21st 2016. 7PM at NVIT. “Staying Safe on Both Sides of the Glass” – Frank Ritcey (WildSafeBC)

Frank Ritcey is the Provincial Coordinator for WildSafeBC, based in Kamloops. Run by the BC Conservation Foundation this program focuses on how we can minimize our impact on the wildlife we observe and keep ourselves safe at the same time. Frank was raised in the wilds of Wells Gray Park by his pioneering mother, Clara Ritcey, and Park Biologist father Ralph Ritcey. Frank’s love of nature has been with him his whole life and he still spends much time filming and studying nature. Frank often contributes to CBC’s popular North by Northwest show.

There are over 100,000 black bears in British Columbia and encounters between humans and these bears are common. Photo: ©Alan Burger

There are over 100,000 black bears in British Columbia and encounters between humans and these bears are common. Photo: ©Alan Burger


Thursday, February 18th 2016. 7PM at NVIT. “The Wonderful World of Butterflies” – Bob Scafe

Bob is a director of the Nicola Naturalist Society and one of our most prolific nature photographers. Lately, he and his wife Bev have become interested in butterflies and moths – getting to know and identify the local species. Bob will give us an introduction to the rich butterfly fauna of the BC interior. Later this spring he has promised to lead a few butterfly field trips so this presentation is a valuable primer. We’ll have lots of great photos too!

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterfly. Photo: ©Bob Scafe

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterfly. Photo: ©Bob Scafe


Sunday, February 21st 2016. 9 AM – meet at the Civic Centre parking lot to carpool. “Sunday Snowbunting Shiver

Our annual winter outing to the Douglas Lake highlands to look for Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, owls, raptors and other birds of the high grasslands. Bring lunch, warm clothes and binoculars.

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

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


Thursday, March 10th 2016. 7PM at NVIT. “Antarctic Wildlife – Life in a Changing Environment” – Alan Burger

NOTE THE CHANGE IN DATE FOR THIS MEETING

NNS President Alan Burger regularly goes to the Antarctic as a naturalist/lecturer on small adventure-tourism vessels. In 2015 he completed a 31-day voyage from New Zealand to the Ross Sea – the deep south – and along the West Antarctic coast. He visited many areas where people seldom go. In January-February 2016 he was in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia. Global climate change is affecting the Antarctic and its wildlife but sometimes in unexpected ways. Enjoy many photos of wildlife and spectacular scenery.

Emperor and Adélie penguins share an ice floe in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Photo: ©Alan Burger

Emperor and Adélie penguins share an ice floe in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Photo: ©Alan Burger


Thursday, April 21st 2016. 7PM at NVIT.    “Heritage Trails in southern BC: history, nature and restoration” – Kelley Cook.

Kelley Cook is an active member of a group publicizing, maintaining and restoring some of the historic Hudson’s Bay Company trading routes across the mountains of SE British Columbia. Many of these trails are within easy access from Merritt. Kelley’s presentation will cover both the human history  and the nature to be seen on these scenic trails. A talk to get us fired up for the spring hiking and naturalizing season!

Hiking one of the historic Hudson's Bay Company trails to Palmer's Pond. Inset: Kelley Cook and her dog out on the trail.

Hiking one of the historic Hudson’s Bay Company trails to Palmer’s Pond. Inset: Kelley Cook and her dog out on the trail.

Map of the historic trails in the North Cascades Mountains of British Columbia. Courtesy Kelley Cook.

Map of the historic pack trails in the North Cascades Mountains of British Columbia. Courtesy Kelley Cook.


Saturday, April 23rd. Spring outing to the Douglas Lake grasslands. Meet 08:00 at Merritt Civic Centre parking lot to carpool.

The Nicola Naturalists, along with the Kamloops Naturalists, are responsible for monitoring the Douglas Lake Plateau Important Bird Area (IBA). Each spring we do an outing during the migration of Sandhill Cranes. The fields around Douglas Lake and Chapperon Lake are important staging areas for these birds and we sometimes encounter thousands of cranes stopping over to feed. The area is also rich in waterfowl, raptors and other wildlife. Bring your binoculars and lunch and join Tom Willms and Paul Willms for a visit to this interesting area. Note the early meeting time – early is better to see cranes.

Sandhill Cranes (both Lesser and Greater forms of the species) at Douglas Lake Ranch, 21 April 2013. Photo: © Bob Scafe.

Sandhill Cranes (both Lesser and Greater forms of the species) at Douglas Lake Ranch, 21 April 2013. Photo: © Bob Scafe.


 

Thursday, May 19th 2016. 7PM at NVIT. “Bio-Energy in British Columbia and the Merritt Green Energy Project” – Nathan Dyck (Merritt Green Energy Project)

As everyone knows, the multinational energy company Iberdrola is building a bio-energy plant in Merritt. Nathan Dyck is the the Environmental Manager for this project. He has a broad knowledge of bio-energy and has studied many issues relating to this in B.C. Nathan and his colleagues will give a presentation on the issues facing bio-energy generation in Merritt, and in the province as a whole. People have many questions about bio-energy and the Merritt Green Energy Project – here is the opportunity to find out more.


Keep checking our website for more spring and summer outings. Put these on your calendar:

Sunday June 5th: Joint outing with the Vermillion Forks Naturalists (Princeton) to Seven Half Diamond Ranch. We will explore this scenic ranch with lots of wetlands, wildflowers, birds, amphibians and more. Meet at 09:00 Civic Centre parking lot – bring lunch.

Saturday June 18th: Joint outing with the Central Okanagan Naturalist Club (Kelowna) to Kane Valley and Hill’s Homestead. Featuring spring flowers, great birding and more. Meet 09:00 Civic Centre parking lot – bring lunch.

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