Herons are enjoying a productive 2019 nesting season on Roberts Bay

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An encouraging message from Jocelyn Gifford, spokesperson for Roberts Bay Residents:

“Currently, Roberts Bay Residents are watching a tree just north of the Ardwell beach access that contains three nests occupied by active heron families with chicks. They are easily visible, and audible, from the beach and from Allbay Road at 10379.

Roberts Bay Residents can be reached at robertsbayres@gmail.com.”

The 2018 redevelopment of a large property that contained the three “heron nesting trees” raised concerns with Friends of Shoal Harbour and Roberts Bay Residents regarding the continued viability of this well-used nesting site. The intrusion of noisy construction did not seem to bother the herons; these birds seem well-adapted to the human-nature interface. Whether the nesting trees will withstand the changes to soil composition and drainage caused by the redevelopment remains to be seen.  Meantime, heron life goes on to the delight of us onlookers.

Update to June 9:

Heron life does go on with ups and downs. The “up” was a successful nesting and chick-rearing season. The “down” was a series of raids from eagles that wiped out the chicks. It’s hard not to feel sad but perhaps we should feel privileged to witness nature playing itself out on the edge of our urban environment.  Hang in there, herons; better luck next year!

An Evening With Rob Butler, May 29 , 2019

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A near-capacity crowd showed up at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea in Sidney BC to hear scientist, artist and environmental advocate Rob Butler (see May 7, 2019 post ) speak about the Herons of the Salish Sean in southern British Columbia and to view his recent award-winning film about human cultures on the shores of the Salish Sea. Folks were not disappointed.

Rob Butler speaking

Rob Butler addressing an enthusiastic audience at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea in Sidney BC. May 29 , 2019

Here are two of the things we learned about herons:

  • Herons are apex predators in the intertidal zone, eating shiners and other small fish that would otherwise over-crop the essential eelgrass.
  • When eagle populations rebounded thanks to the reduction in the use of toxic pesticides such as DDT, the herons populations suffered increased predations and consequently declined. Within a few generations, the herons “adapted” by taking advantage of the territorial nature of eagles and building their own nests in the “protected zone” of an active eagle nest. In this zone they would be preyed upon by one pair of eagles and not the whole population thereof.

In the film “Returning”  (co-authored with Mike McKinlay), Rob is shown on a tour of the Salish Sea, during which he discovers a developing regional culture. Such a  local culture, widely embraced, living in harmony with its beautiful natural surroundings, could be a modern revival of the old earth-centred self-sustaining bioregional cultures, a welcome returning.  Rob is definitely on to something.

From the card handed out  (along with a home-made cookie) to each attendee”

“All three sponsoring organizations (Friends of Shoal Harbour, Roberts Bay Residents, The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea)  share a common desire to celebrate, enjoy and protect the natural communities in which our human communities are embedded, our “naturehoods”  We know you are interested and potential supporters because you are here.

You can find out what we do by visiting http://www.shoalharbour.com (Friends of Shoal Harbour and Roberts Bay Residents) and http://www.salishseacentre.org/centre  (Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea) or by calling 250 634 4715(Roberts Bay Residents).

If you live in Sidney or North Saanich we urge you to participate in the open houses or other public events associated with the upcoming (2019) reviews and updates of the Official Community Plans of both municipalities. Well-crafted Official Community Plans help to protect our naturehoods from poorly considered development.

On the Friends of Shoal Harbour website/blog http://www.shoalharbour.com  you will find announcements and reports of our activities, science-based nature information, photographs (lots of birds), artwork and the occasional poem. You could enrich this site by sharing some of your stories, pictures, poems about your favourite naturehoods and naturehood experiences. The current editors can be reached through farrellboyce@gmail.com.  We have a new story to share with you – a good news story about herons – communicated by Friends of Roberts Bay.

On one of the picnic tables in a grove of ancient Coast Maple trees in Mount Douglas Park, a favourite naturehood of many people, there is a memorial plaque dedicated to the late Phil Mosner. The inscription on the plaque reads as a beautiful naturehood blessing:

“May the lattice of light and leaf here shade you, the sea and sky surround you, the sound of birds lift you, and the peace of the path encourage your return.”