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STEEVES: play outside in the snow

A dusting of snow on the ground leaves birds scratching for their supper, but with bears now hibernating, we can put out the bird feeders again and help them out.    - Judie Steeves/Capital News
A dusting of snow on the ground leaves birds scratching for their supper, but with bears now hibernating, we can put out the bird feeders again and help them out.
— image credit: Judie Steeves/Capital News

It may not be officially, but winter is well and truly here now that December’s arrived, along with the second cold snap of the season.

The upcoming sunny weekend will make for a delightful start to ski season and make up for the colder nights we can expect for the next few days.

But, by now even the best-fed garbage and fruit-filled bears should have denned up and closed their eyes for the winter, so I’ve put the bear spray away for a few months and picked up a flashlight instead.

That’s the unfortunate thing about winter: it can be beautiful during a sunny, snowy day, but it’s dark a lot of the time, and those days are short and getting shorter from now until the winter solstice on Dec. 22, when the day is light for the least amount of time all year.

That means more walking in the dark, before or after the workday, as well as less time on weekends for outside fun, unless you have a headlamp to find your way.

The good news is that the outdoor ice rink in Jim Stuart Park should be opened for the winter on the weekend, and local downhill ski resorts like Big White and Silver Star are now open, along with the Kelowna Nordic club’s facilities near McCulloch.

However, there’s not much of a snow base, and lower-elevation hills like the Telemark Club’s facility and Crystal Resort are waiting for another dump of snow. All have websites, so check them for current information about the depth of snow, weather conditions and what runs are open.

Now that most of the lower elevation snow has melted, enjoy a weekend hike or cycle in one of the dozens of local parks, or head for the hills if you want snow.

The Central Okanagan Naturalists Club invites everyone interested to its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, Dec. 13 at Evangel Church, 3261 Gordon Drive to hear guest speaker George Scotter and his slide presentation on Nahanni National Park Reserve, a World Heritage Site, which contains some of the country’s most spectacular mountains, glaciers, canyons, waterfalls and hot springs.

The next day, you’re invited to join in and help out with the Lake Country Christmas Bird Count. It’s being led by Tanya Seebacher, Ann Gibson and Les Gyug. For more information, contact Les at les_gyug@shaw.ca

He’s also the one to contact if you’re interested in helping out with the Kelowna count on Saturday, Dec. 17.

The annual Audubon events are held all over North America between December 14 and January 5 to take a snapshot of bird numbers in order to assess the overall health of bird populations, note trends and help guide conservation efforts.

This is the 112th continent-wide count.

You’re particularly invited to take in the next Discover Nature event, part of the club’s celebration of its 50th anniversary, that same day with Brenda Thomson leading a group to count shoreline birds. Meet at the EECO on Springfield Road at 10 a.m., bring a lunch, binoculars and dress warmly. Also, bring a loonie for insurance.

With the bears in bed, you’re safe to haul out the bird feeder and fill it up without taking the chance of attracting those larger hungry mouths, and your backyard birds will likely be waiting for a little attention.

It’s a win-win: they get fed during the most difficult time of the year and you get to enjoy their antics.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

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