Ten Vermilion Forks Field Naturalists enjoyed a joint outing with the Nicola Valley Naturalist Society at Lundbom Common, just east of Merritt, on Saturday, October 17th. Our neighbouring naturalists hosted us, and their president, Alan Burger, was our guide. The area is beautiful, with sheltered gullies of marshlands and a myriad of turquoise coloured ponds and lakes interspersed throughout vast golden rolling grasslands, surrounded by small pockets of forest. We met at the Laurie Guichon Memorial Grasslands Interpretive Site, where Alan gave us a short history of the area. Then we drove 7 km. along a gravel road before we began hiking along a designated trail. The region is a birder’s delight, and even at this time of year we observed 21 different species, including Buffleheads, Green-winged teals, Pileated woodpeckers, a Northern Harrier, and a Rough-legged hawk. After our morning hike, we settled onto a hillside overlooking a pond, to eat our lunch and revel in the warmth of the sun, as the temperature was 24 degrees! After lunch we visited a nearby forested area where a dead but standing ancient tree bears the mark that once signified a First Nation’s trading site.
A few of our members had time for an additional one-hour hike, a steep climb to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, which provides a powerful view of the Nicola Valley and mountains beyond. A granite glacial erratic that perches on top of the volcanic peak was of particular interest to our group. This field trip not only introduced us to a unique, protected and diverse ecosystem, but also to fellow naturalists. We look forward to another joint outing with this group, closer to home, in the spring!