Desert Centre blooms as it kicks off season

By on May 7, 2014
A male Rufous hummingbird hovers momentarily next to a feeder at the Osoyoos Desert Centre. These birds dart around very quickly. (Richard McGuire photo)

A male Rufous hummingbird hovers momentarily next to a feeder at the Osoyoos Desert Centre. These birds dart around very quickly. (Richard McGuire photo)

The Osoyoos Desert Centre has kicked off a new season just as arid region plants are blooming and spadefoot tadpoles are swimming.

The recent season opening on April 26 was well attended with 28 people showing up for the first tour of the day, said Denise Eastlick, executive director.

Several events at the centre are planned this year including the second annual Birdathon, which takes place this Saturday and Sunday, May 10-11.

The abundant antelope brush beside the centre’s 1.5 km boardwalk is now covered in little yellow flowers. Purple phlox flowers dot the ground next to the boardwalk and soon the prickly pear cactus will also be in bloom.

At the interpretive centre, several skittish Rufous hummingbirds dart around, flitting from the rooftop to hover around a feeder.

Nearby, in a pond, little tadpoles swim around as they evolve into spadefoots, an amphibian that is neither frog nor toad but resembles both.

“There’s almost always something to see that’s blooming,” said Eastlick, noting that the yellow antelope brush flowers only started blooming about a week ago.

The centre’s website lists times of year when different plants bloom as well as the various animals that can be seen, she said.

During this weekend’s Birdathon, guests are invited to take part in a bird count, recording the different bird species they see. Regular admission applies.

“It’s a really good time for birding right now,” said Eastlick. “This time of the year in spring you see a lot of birds coming in and breeding.”

There are four species of hummingbirds, as well as bluebirds and phoebes among others.

The following Saturday, May 17, the Desert Centre will be the scene for the Call of the Wild Tour in which a guide will discuss animal communication. This evening event is organized through the Meadowlark Festival and $15 tickets should be purchased from them.

Proceeds support the Meadowlark Festival and the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance.

Current hours for the centre are daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but Eastlick said that on May 16, the centre switches to extended hours and is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The society’s major annual fundraising event is the Romancing the Desert event that will take place on Saturday, Aug. 9 starting at 6 p.m.

Guests enjoy fine wine and gourmet food amid the beauty of the desert under a full moon.

A popular ongoing event is the night tours, which allow visitors to see wildlife that is crepuscular – active at dusk – or nocturnal – active at night.

“There’s likely to be more activity, whereas during the heat of the day a lot of animals are seeking shelter,” said Eastlick. “It’s an exclusive private tour so it’s kind of a special atmosphere being out there in the evening.”

Tours are normally kept to 25 or fewer people she said.

Night tours take place on July 5, 15 and 25 and on Aug. 2 and 12.

For more information about events at the Osoyoos Desert Centre, times and admissions visit www.desert.org.

RICHARD McGUIRE

Osoyoos Times

Little purple phlox flowers next to the boardwalk at Osoyoos Desert Centre. (Richard McGuire photo)

Little purple phlox flowers next to the boardwalk at Osoyoos Desert Centre. (Richard McGuire photo)

With spring well underway, the desert vegetation of the Osoyoos Desert Centre is taking on more colour. The sagebrush is a greener green and the antelope brush is a flowering yellow. (Richard McGuire photo)

With spring well underway, the desert vegetation of the Osoyoos Desert Centre is taking on more colour. The sagebrush is a greener green and the antelope brush is a flowering yellow. (Richard McGuire photo)

The antelope brush at the Osoyoos Desert Centre is now a bright yellow with blooming flowers. (Richard McGuire photo)

The antelope brush at the Osoyoos Desert Centre is now a bright yellow with blooming flowers. (Richard McGuire photo)

The yellow flowers on the antelope brush are blooming at the Osoyoos Desert Centre and the bees are busy gathering pollen. (Richard McGuire photo)

The yellow flowers on the antelope brush are blooming at the Osoyoos Desert Centre and the bees are busy gathering pollen. (Richard McGuire photo)

The prickly pear cactus at the Osoyoos Desert Centre is small and low to the ground, but it has long spines. Later in the spring its yellow flowers come out. (Richard McGuire photo)

The prickly pear cactus at the Osoyoos Desert Centre is small and low to the ground, but it has long spines. Later in the spring its yellow flowers come out. (Richard McGuire photo)

The antelope brush at the Osoyoos Desert Centre is now a bright yellow with blooming flowers. (Richard McGuire photo)

The antelope brush at the Osoyoos Desert Centre is now a bright yellow with blooming flowers. (Richard McGuire photo)

 

 

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