The Birdwalk and Tea event starts with a guided bird watching tour along the shores of the Saanich Peninsula, this year electing to follow the most frequently chosen route following the Scoter Trail on the west side of the Saanich Peninsula from the seaplane docks north to the Tsecum First Nation Reserve. Nineteen species of birds were observed this year, both waterfowl and land based. See list below:
Double Crested Cormorant, Horned Grebe, Glaucous-Winged Gull, other gull hybrids, Great Blue Heron, Pigeon, Bufflehead Duck, Mallard Duck, Golden Eye Duck, Common Merganser, White-Winged Scoter, Pacific Crow, Bald Eagle, Red-Tailed Hawk, Osprey, Black Vulture, White-Crowned Sparrow, Starling, Dark-Eyed Junco
St. John’s United Church (on West Saanich Road north of the Scoter Trail has regularly provided a meeting room as well as catering the refreshments.
Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH) Chair, Bob Peart welcomed the attendees and thanked the St. Johns refreshment crew (very fine cookies and such). His introductory remarks are reported here in note form:
- FOSH is a citizen-driven advocacy group inspired by (1), a predecessor developed in the Great Lakes for Hamilton Harbour and (2) a local predecessor, the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary established in 1931.
- In addition to public engagements such as the annual spring Birdwalk and the mid- October All Buffleheads Celebration, FOSH works closely with other similar environmental groups and with the three Peninsula municipalities (North Saanich, Central Saanich and the Town of Sidney (link to the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition)
- Other areas of engagement are the restoration of Roberts Bay, private moorage and its annoying consequence, abandoned boats .
From Jacques Sirois: Thanks to the Friends of Shoal Harbour Bird Sanctuary for inviting me at your ninth annual walk along Scoter Trail. Thanks for your commitment and energy, which inspired me to get involved with the revitalization of historic Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary a decade ago. 2023 will be a big year for us as we prepare to celebrate the sanctuary’s centennial (Oct. 27, 2023) with various initiatives. Stay tuned.
I enjoyed having another look at the restored beach (restored for spawning forage fish like Surf Smelt and Pacific Sandlance) in Patricia Beach, a great project of Peninsula Streams and Shorelines Society (PSSS). I am looking forward to see the Mermaid Creek area restored in Roberts Bay in the future. PSSS is also a great restoration partner in Victoria Harbour MBS with projects in Victoria Harbour (Lime Bay beach) and Portage Inlet (Hospital Creek estuary), for example
Jocelyn Gifford (also active with Friends of Roberts Bay) reports on the restoration of the Mermaid Creek estuary and efforts to create fireworks-safe zones to minimize the disturbance of birds, notably blue herons in the process of raising their chicks.
Photos courtesy of Rick Searle, drawings by Farrell Boyce