On Friday, April 3, 2015, Dennis Paulson, one of the most knowledgeable naturalists in the Northwest, opened a window into the lives of dragonflies and damselflies in our region, sharing his interest in their biodiversity and biology. In a profusely illustrated lecture, “Dragonflies: Rainbows on the Wing,” Dennis shared all about the lives of these interesting creatures and how they fit into their environment.
Renowned biologist, birder, and author Dick Cannings brought his vast knowledge of birds to Highland Wonders on Friday, February 6, 2015. In his inspiring presentation, “The World Needs More Birders,” Cannings demonstrated how going out to enjoy and watch birds can also generate valuable information about the abundance and distribution of bird species in our region. Drawing on a long career as a professional biologist, Cannings conveyed anecdotes, stories, and experiences that underscore the need for citizen science programs. Through coordinated efforts, the public can be actively involved in turning bird watching into a collective database of bird breeding, bird behavior, and migration.
On Friday, January 9, 2015, David Moskowitz, expert wildlife tracker and author of Wolves in the Land of Salmon and Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest provided an evening of amazing photographs and tales exploring the hidden stories of our region’s wildlife.
Not only are Great Gray Owls the largest owl in North America with the largest wingspan, their stature and countenance spark a sense of wonder. With alternate names such as “Great Grey Ghost” and “Phantom of the North,” they inspire awe and pique our curiosity. From unique adaptations for locating prey, to behaviors for defending their nests, to strategies for successful breeding, these masters of silent flight capture our interest.
Are you curious about the native plants growing around you? “What is this species, and what do I need to know about it?” On Sept. 26, 2014, OHA invited the community to bring photos and/or samples to our “Evening with the Experts,” event, along with observations about the plant. Community members were encouraged to bring digital photos on USB flash drives, SD memory cards, or email in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org. The event was open to everyone, whether they brought in a mystery plant or not. There were plenty of examples available for everyone to learn from.
Okanogan Highlands Alliance (OHA) provided another extraordinary outdoor learning opportunity: a tour highlighting the geology of the highlands, expanding on what was shared during the past three years’ Highland Wonders geology tours. On Saturday, August 16th, Geology of the Okanogan Highlands, Part IV was led by a team of speakers who each brought a different emphasis. The team was headed by Dr. Karl Lillquist, a professor in the Geography Department and Co-Director of the Resource Management Graduate Program at CWU. He was also an instructor for the Ellensburg Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute, and co-led last year’s OHA Geology Tour. Karl has degrees in Geography and Geology, and a special interest in geomorphology, a field of study that focuses on landforms and how they originated.
On Saturday, July 19th, freshwater ecologist and emeritus professor Dr. Mark Oswood came to share his expertise in the Highland Wonders series. This event aimed to increase our community’s understanding of stream ecology, and how riparian zones and streams interact to support and affect populations of aquatic insects. Connections were made between populations of aquatic insects and what their presence indicates about water quality.
Okanogan Highlands Alliance sponsored a new kind of educational event called, “Viva la Naturaleza,” in partnership with the Tonasket School Garden, Tonasket High School MEChA Club, Tonasket School District, Tonasket Migrant PAC, AmeriCorps/VISTA, Team Naturaleza, and the Viva la Naturaleza Student Leadership Team.
In this Highland Wonders presentation, Scott Fitkin gave an overview of our local amphibian species, including their identifying characteristics, life history and presumed distribution.
He touched on the crucial role they play in our ecosystems as secondary consumers in the food web, and as indicators of environmental change. This event provided information about the natural history, amazing adaptations, and ecological status of our region’s frogs, salamanders and other amphibians.