Friends of Shoal Harbour Welcomes Incoming Councils in Sidney and North Saanich

Arbutus in rain at Nymph Point Park, a sacred first Nations site in Tsheum  (Shoal) Harbour

Arbutus in rain at Nymph Point Park, a sacred first Nations site in Tsheum (Shoal) Harbour

After vigorous campaigns and high voter turnout, both Sidney and North Saanich have elected “refreshed” Councils for the next four years. Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH) congratulates both returning and newly elected Mayors and Councillors and looks forward to a productive relationship with both Councils.

Appended below are (1) a letter from FOSH president, Hugh Richards to all Council candidates in Sidney and North Saanich and (2) the concluding portion of the report mentioned in !1) above.  Item (2) serves as a template for FOSH activities in the coming year.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014: An Enjoyable Afternoon on Roberts Bay

We didn’t plan it this way; there were supposed to be a dozen or so students from Parklands School along to help out. Thanks to some geographical confusion the students turned left instead of right and missed the gig. Foshers Sue Staniforth and Farrell Boyce, along with Kerry Finley and Jane Hunter (Native Plant Study Group)  with vigorous help from Sidney staffer, Mike Pryor  turned to and ripped out the ivy and debris from the copse at the Ardwell Avenue beach access on Roberts Bay and replanted with ocean spray, snowberry, mahonia, salal and wild strawberries, all indigenous plant species suited to the site.  We enjoyed our afternoon.

Mike and Sue have at it

Mike and Sue have at it

The tide was high and a multiple-species flock of ducks hung about vey close to shore. Kerry, the naturalist guy, pointed out that the ducks were drinking the freshwater from the storm drain that empties onto the beach at the foot of Ardwell. It seems that the ducks prefer this source to the more ample one at nearby Mermaid Creek. Why? Does Mermaid Creek water taste of motor oil and pavement? Or is the estuary water brackish because creek flow is insufficient to shoulder aside the salt water being pushed in by the tide? Lots of questions when you watch ducks.

Ivy (mostly) gone, native plants bedded. Everybody happy.

Ivy (mostly) gone, native plants bedded. Everybody happy.

2014 Mass Influx of Buffleheads Occurred on October 27

Widgeon ducks feeding near Mermaid Creek Delta, October 27, 2014

Widgeon ducks feeding near Mermaid Creek Delta, October 27, 2014

Well that seat-of-the-pants prediction, late last night, didn’t quite pan out. The Buffleheads arrived this morning under heavy overcast conditions, a day earlier than I guessed.

Yesterday morning as we travelled down the highway to Victoria, the rain came down in a deluge and we chuckled at Environment Canada’s forecast of scattered showers, however by the time the rowing regatta began on the Gorge, we looked out of place in our rain gear, as the warm sun broke out. When we returned, I noted that large numbers of Wigeon had appeared around Mermaid Delta so after photographing them, I bailed my boat and took one last trip with Blitzen-the-Dog out in Sidney Channel to the spit.

Since the Murre and Guillemot migration in September and early October, the waters are now barren, except for a large aggregation of California Gulls (900- 1000, and some Herring Gulls) on the north spit. There were no Heermann’s gulls. A good number of the California Gulls were scattered over the shallow waters on the north side of the spit, and it made me wonder how such a large flock makes a living, using a different hunting technique compared to Mew and Heermann’s gulls.

Today at least one of the Beaufort Grove eagles has been carrying nesting material back to its long-time eyrie in a Douglas Fir.

I counted 76 Buffleheads, including 29 drakes. This influx is right on average and three days earlier than last season’s rapid mass influx.

Kerry Finley