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Popular nature talks return to Osoyoos this summer

The Osoyoos Desert Centre is hosting its popular Nature Talks and Early Bird Tours
A hoary bat, one of the many bat species that will be discussed during the bat Nature Talk. (Osoyoos Desert Centre/Contributed to Black Press Media)

Presentations about nature are back by popular demand this summer in the Okanagan.

The Osoyoos Desert Centre (ODC) is hosting a wide variety of events this summer, hoping to share the unique desert ecosystem with visitors. Through presentations from experts on the local environment, ODC Nature Talks will help provide an in-depth view into various aspects of the desert.

Throughout the summer, the ODC will also host early bird tours along the 1.5 km boardwalk trail. From 7: 15 to 8:45 a.m. on Thursdays from July 27 to Aug. 24, the walk and talk will take a look at dining habits of desert wildlife, such as bobcats, snakes and other predators, and which “early birds” get the worm. Advanced registration is not required and gates open at 7 a.m.

READ MORE: Funding to replace Osoyoos Desert Centre’s elevated boardwalk is ‘dream come true’

On Sunday, July 16, biologist Lia McKinnon from the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society joins the ODC for a talk about snakes and amphibians. After the talk, the Stewardship’s favourite ambassador, Nora the gopher snake, will be available for a meet and greet.

Jef Vreys will be bringing his passion for antelope-brush to the ODC on Saturday, July 22 with What Makes Antelope-brush So Special. Vreys a student from the University of British Columbia Okanagan will share what makes antelope-brush ecosystems some of the most intriguing and unique habitats in Canada. He will also discuss how this ecosystem is essential to the vast diversity of at-risk species that live within it and the threats and challenges that are facing many of the remaining habitats.

The following weekend, Saturday, July 29, biodiversity, badgers and bridges will be topics of conversation in How Improving Habitat Connectivity Can Help Wildlife. ODC conservation guide Kaylee Lesmeister dives into biodiversity, why it’s important and how people can help reduce the effects of habitat fragmentation on wildlife.

On Friday, Aug. 4, the Western Burrowing Owl will take flight in From the Ground Up: Bringing Back the Burrowing Owl to BC. The species is at risk in Canada, and the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of British Columbia has been working on reintroducing the owl to B.C.’s grasslands through captive breeding and habitat enhancement. Executive director of the society, Lauren Meads, will introduce her special guest, Pluto, and discuss the successes and obstacles of working with the remarkable grassland bird.

The following day, Saturday, Aug. 5, will bring more snake talk to the ODC with Snakes of the Okanagan. Snake biologist Lindsay Whitehead from Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre will talk about the seven different snake species of the South Okanagan, and will also discuss efforts to protect snake species at risk, safety tips and what to do when encountering a snake on the trail.

ODC conservation guide Larissa Thelin will host, It’s Getting Hot in Here: Climate Change Impacts on the Ecology of the South Okanagan, on Saturday, Aug. 19, a nd discuss what it means for plants and animals, and how it is expected to affect the environment in the south Okanagan and some of its key species at the ODC.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, Mike Dedels, general manager of the Grasslands Conservation Council of BC, will talk about the different types of grasslands in the Okanagan. He will discuss the ecological services they provide and their main threats which include development, encroachment and invasive plants.

The final Nature Talk of the summer will be on Saturday, Sept. 2. Bats of the Okanagan. It will be an engaging presentation about bats, led by Paula Rodriguez de la Vega, Okanagan Region Coordinator of the BC Community Bat Program. There will be a myth-busters game which will test people’s bat knowledge.

All Nature Talks start at 11 a.m. and are free with admission.

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Nora the gopher snake will be available for a meet and greet during one of the Nature Talks. (Osoyoos Desert Centre/Contributed to Black Press Media)

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