October 19, 2019 All Buffleheads Celebration (but no buffleheads in sight)

Bob Peart and participants looking-03859

Bob Peart and other keen-eyed observers scan Roberts Bay for Bufflehead ducks (to no avail).


On Wednesday, October 9 Kerry Finley (our eyes on Roberts Bay) reported:

HAIL TO THE BUFFLEHEAD : They’re back early
I’m pleased to announce that the BuffGoRhythm was accurate to within 99.99 percent. The first Buffleheads, a flock of seven with two drakes appeared on Roberts Bay by 07:15 Pacific Standard Time.
This is the largest flock to have appeared this early and it ties with last years earliest arrival.
Buffleheads bring on Jack Frost.
Over 50 cheerful people dressed for the weather turned out for the annual Buffleheads Celebration organized by the Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH). The observational power of the group was significantly augmented by visitors from the Victoria Natural History Society. Mallards and mergansers were observed, albeit no buffleheads. A distant whimbrel was spotted, an infrequent visitor here.

Whimbrel – image from “Birds of Coastal British Columbia” by Baron & Acorn

Farrell Boyce (Vice Chair, Friends of Shoal Harbour) served as MC of the gathering, acknowledging that the gathering took place on the traditional territory of the WASANEC First Nations, welcoming attendees and special guests.
The first order of business was to send out the children present to scour the beach and return with at least 3 items that did not belong on the beach. Fulfillment of this task qualified the person for a draw for a Naturehood Stuffie (a colourful collection of stuffed critters that fit into a stuffed canoe -very Canadian).
MLA Adam Olsen, a steadfast supporter of our activities,  offered words of encouragement.
Patricia Pearson, acting Mayor of the District of North Saanich, reported that the District had recently met to review their strategic priorities for 2019, one of which is the role for the District in the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary Integrated Management Plan. This work is underway and council looks forward to deliberating on it in the near future. Staff recognizes the complexity of the area and are attempting to complete a holistic review of what is required. This was good news as was the District’s decision to rebuild the northern section of the Scoter Trail along Patricia Bay, a trail that affords some of the best winter birdwatching on the Saanich Peninsula.
FOSH Chair Bob Peart reported on the Society’s activities planned for the coming year:
  • With financial support from Nature Canada and the involvement of Camosun College, engaging students to explore the ways and means of arriving at a pan-Peninsula integrated foreshore management plan
  • An interactive panel discussion on quality of life opportunities and issues on the Saanich Peninsula  with particular regard to the Naturehood concept and climate change (January/February 2020)
  • the now traditional FOSH Spring Birdwalk and Tea event (March 2020

Roberts Bay Residents Association Spokesperson, Jocelyn Gifford reported a growing list of supporters. Roberts Bay Residents and Friends of Shoal Harbour are close allies in urging protection of the foreshore from careless development.

Tsehum Harbour Task Force representative, Diane Falconer spoke about the Task Force’s advocacy for fair, responsible and enforced  regulation of mooring buoys in local harbours. We agree.

The children, dispatched earlier to comb the beach for “foreign” objects, returned with a haul that satisfied the contest criterion, bits of plastic and surprisingly, an unwrapped toffee. We proceeded with the formalities of the draw but there being two contestants and two stuffies to distribute, everybody was happy.

The formal part of the gathering closed with a “call and response” ceremony intended to affirm the purpose of the event and to locate it in the evolving history of this beautiful place.

CALL:  For many years people have gathered on this beach as the season turns to winter, welcoming those who return to share this place and the hard months with us.
RESPONSE: As do the birds and other creatures, we people also require a place to call our home. Not a place for all time but a place to share across time, from past to future.
CALL: Thus we acknowledge the long tenure of the WASANEC people, wise in the ways of this place, its web of deep relationship. We offer them our respect.
RESPONSE: Those of us who have come here lately have much to learn. We understand that now.
CALL: And so we say “Hello, buffleheads! We are glad that you have returned to be with us, as we are glad for all the other creatures for whom this place is home. You enrich our lives and in return we must care for you.
RESPONSE: Yes, this is our home together. Welcome, Buffleheads!


Adam Olsen with Stuffy toys-03914

MLA Adam Olsen approves of the Naturehood Stuffie prize. Adam is a strong supporter of local initiatives such as ours.

North Saanich Councilor speaks-03928 copy

North Saanich Acting Mayor Patricia Pearson

Jocelyn Gifford Roberts Bay rep speaks-03955

Jocelyn Gifford, representing the Roberts Bay Residents Association.

Diane and Malcom Falconer-03974

Diane Falconer (Malcom standing by) representing the Tsehum Harbour Task Force.

Farrell handing out stuffies to kids-03986

And the Naturehood stuffie winners are Sophia Adam (blue parka) and Emma Pearson (pink parka). Congratulations to both!

Glassing the whimbrel

Glassing the whimbrel


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