Get ready for the 2017 Buffleheads Celebration!



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Come Celebrate the Return of the Bufflehead Ducks!

The 2017 Buffleheads Celebration will take place over three days, Friday October 13, Saturday October 14 and Sunday October 15.  We have some great events to offer you!

Friday October 13: Public Reception 7 to 9 pm at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea (9811 Seaport Place, Sidney BC  250 665 7511)

Hear updates from the many local organizations working to protect and promote our rich natural heritage and introduce the exciting concept of “naturehood”.

Photographer, Terry Venables will present a slide show of his “grace in motion” photographs of  local birds and other wildlife. We’ll introduce you to the Plein Air Painters, a group of local artists who paint directly from nature and who have supported many environmental outreach events by exhibiting their work.  Pamela Porter, an accomplished area poet, will read some of her poems to improvised piano accompaniment by musician, Patrick Godfrey.

There will be time to socialize with other guests and to share light refreshments.

A highlight of the evening will be the formal unveiling of a new painting by Robert Bateman.

This event (Friday, October 13) and that of October 14, will take place in the traditional territory of the Tseycum First Nation. We are grateful for the presence of representatives from the Tseycum community. We acknowledge the support of the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, which made this beautiful space and its facilities available at no cost.  If you enjoyed the reception, a small donation to defray the out-of-pocket expenses would be gratefully received (donation basket at the exit).

Saturday, October 14: Bufflehead Welcoming Ceremony, 9:30 am to 11am at Roberts Bay (intersection of Ardwell Ave. and Resthaven Dr. in Sidney)

Everybody welcome! This is our traditional gathering to honour the Bufflehead Ducks and other migratory birds that choose to winter in our community. Join us under the tents at the Ardwell Beach Access, where Chief Tanya Jones of the Tseycum First Nation will welcome us to this place, one of the Tseycum traditional food-gathering sites.  There will be Bufflehead-related displays and activities for adults and children, explanations of local natural history, brief addresses from supportive politicians, and much scanning of the Bay waters for migratory birds, Buffleheads in particular.

Saturday, October 14: Nature Sketching, 10 am to 12 noon, at Roberts Bay  (intersection of Ardwell Ave. and Resthaven Dr. in Sidney)

Nature Sketching is a children and youth program established by the Robert Bateman Centre in Victoria BC (one of our partners in the Buffleheads Celebration ). The program arises from Robert Bateman’s experience of outdoor sketching as a way of interacting directly with nature and developing observing skills. This is a special edition of the program Complementing the Welcoming Ceremony for the Bufflehead ducks. Young people not registered with the program are welcome to attend on this special occasion. Sketching materials and instruction will be available. Participants should wear waterproof shoes or boots; some wading may be required to cross Mermaid Creek where it fans out on the beach.

Sunday October 15: boat Tour of the Victoria Migratory Bird Sanctuary, the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary and Places In Between, 9am to 2 pm. Great Opportunity! Limited Spaces Available.

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Here’s an amazing opportunity to tour the coastline of Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula in the comfortable 4Ever Wild catamaran! There will be naturalists on board and folks from the Tseycum First Nation to point out things of interest; the skipper and crew of the vessel are excellent guides as well. Sponsors of this cruise are Friends of Shoal Harbour, the Robert Bateman Centre and Eagle Wing Tours ( Eagle Wing Tours is providing its 60 foot catamaran 4 Ever Wild (capacity 50 passengers) for the cost of fuel and crew. We are charging $55.00 per person(a trip of this kind usually costs triple that amount!) . Available spaces may be booked on a first-come-first-served basis e-mail  abdboattour@shaw,ca  or by telephone 250 896 8080

Plan A – Fair Weather: The cruise will depart from Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria at 10:00 am. Passengers should muster at 9:00 am on the dock to register, pay fares (cash or cheques payable to Friends of Shoal Harbour) and sign waivers. The cruise will follow the coast eastwards, past Discovery and Chatham Islands through the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, then northwards along the east shore of the Saanich Peninsula to Sidney and the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary before returning to Victoria Harbour. The outbound progress will be leisurely, with good opportunities for viewing wildlife; return progress will be rapid and direct. Estimated return time 2:00 pm.

Plan B – Southerly winds with seas in open water too uncomfortable for passengers:  The cruise will depart from Port Sidney Marina in Sidney at 10:00 am (passengers muster at 9:00 am, as for Plan A). The cruise track would be confined to sheltered water including the Shoal Harbour Bird Sanctuary, but with good opportunities for nature viewing. The vessel would return to Port of Sidney to discharge passengers at 12:30 pm.

Plan C – Weather conditions too stormy for safe navigation: Cruise will be cancelled. The adventure may be remounted at some future date.

Note: The weather-dependent decision to shift from Plan A (Victoria departure) to Plan B (Sidney departure) of Plan C (cancellation) will be made by Eagle Wing Tours, possibly at the very last moment. Participants/passengers should check this website before departing for Victoria

Sunday October 15:Family Bufflehead Festival Programs 10 am to 3 pm at the Robert Bateman Centre (470 Belleville Street, Victoria BC)

Join us on October 15th from 10:00am-3:00pm for our Family Bufflehead Festival and from 3:30pm-5:30pm for our Migrations Symposium. All admission by donation!  Check the website for more information:







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Heron Nest in Roberts Bay



Hello friends,

These photos from my ipad are terrible, but I hope you can make this out – a heron nest with 2 youngsters on Roberts Bay!  (Please go out and take better photos if you can.) I took these August 28 morning. This nest is on the shore at 10383 Allbay, between the Ardwell Avenue beach access and the one by the mail boxes called Seagrass on the Town’s Parks map.

This is not as dramatic as the hawklet in the eagle’s nest on the other side of Roberts Bay earlier this year,  but very exciting nonetheless because since 2009 when I moved here and started walking the shore of Roberts’ Bay almost every day with my dogs,  I have  never seen a heron’s nest on this part of Roberts’ Bay. Longer term residents tell me there once was a heron rookery near The Latch, but it disappeared years ago. In the spring of 2010, before the Van Isle boat yard and maintenance facility was built on Harbour Road, my husband and I sat on our back deck and watched herons trying out nest sites in the trees around Eden Place and beside Bowden Road, but they seemed to be driven off by eagles and did not stay. No sign of them since, except the usual one or two wading and fishing in the shallows of Roberts Bay, with higher numbers earlier the summer.

2017 has been a remarkable year for herons in this part of Roberts Bay. During low tides in the morning, I have counted up to 24 herons fishing in the shallows, and many perching in the trees on the shore and on the other side of Allbay around Eden Place. I have wondered where they were nesting. Now at the end of August, with different tides, only one or two herons can be seen in the shallows at the time of my morning walk, but suddenly, here is this nest! It seems very late in the season; I hope everything is Ok with it.
Some of you may already know about this nest. It is very easy to spot if approached from the Ardwell beach access side. I understand that heron rookeries can be very noisy, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if more of them nest near here next year!

I just had to share this with neighbours and friends that I thought might be interested.

Jocelyn Gifford
Sidney BC

Editor’s Note:  We welcome contributions such as this to our website/blog.  Anybody watching out there – please take note of Jocelyn’s excellent example.  Please e-mail your material (text and photos) to . Jocelyn need not apologize for the quality of her photos. They are just fine – close to what we observe when we are walking about (not packing a camera with a big lens).  And by the way, other related material, sketches, poems etc. etc. are very welcome too.   Farrell Boyce




Out here at Wain Rock in the warming early light
there is no sound of motors.
There is the whispering of water
as the Inlet exhales its high-tide breathing.

I nose the kayak into the riffle
Where Wain Rock shoulders the flow aside,
Let the current carry us some distance seaward.
Fronds of seaweed wave us on.

I imagine this to-and-fro in time,
obedient to the rhymes of gravity, and motion,
stretching before us and beyond us,
as long as there are hills and deep salt water.

Breathe in, breathe out… this quiet song.

(Farrell Boyce 28 August 2017)