Mount Tuam in Smoke and Mew Gulls from the Mackenzie Valley

Roberts Bay smoky sky

View rom the south end of Roberts Bay looking northwest towards Mount Tuam on Saltspring Island

As fires burn in the Cariboo district of B.C. – summer habitat of the Bufflehead – migration begins in earnest on the coast. Every year at this time, Mew Gulls returning from the boreal forest, and California gulls from the prairies, join with numerous resident, Glaucous-winged Gulls to feed on the mudflats of Roberts Bay. Their behaviour and patterns reveal the rich benthic ecology of the bay, relative to the oceanographic features  of the area.

After a prolonged spell of stagnant weather, the air pressure will bottom out on Saturday, with the first touch of precipitation. Forest fires that have been burning in the Mackenzie Valley and northern Yukon, were largely extinguished last week, and the Fort Good Hope fire will be dampened with the development of a low pressure system by the end of this weekend. Finally we will see blue skies on the coast.

Then the next wave of migrants will appear in synchrony with the rhythms of the planetary (Rossby) waves.

Kerry Finley

arial view of smoke & fires

Satellite view of BC fires and smoke- August 8, 2017

July 12, 2017 Reception at Government House in Honour of the Capital Region Naturehood and the Urban Sanctuaries Project


Jill Sturdy of Nature Canada presents the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, with a certificate  declaring the grounds of Government House to be a Naturehood site.

Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia officially recognizes
Government House Gardens as part of a NatureHood
VICTORIA, B.C.  July 12, 2017 — The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia and Nature Canada, Canada’s oldest national nature conservation charity, are officially designating the grounds of Government House a NatureHood site as part of the expansion of the existing Saanich Peninsula NatureHood to include the entire capital region. The official ceremony took place on Wednesday, July 12 at 3:30pm at the Government House residence, 1401 Rockland Avenue, Victoria, B.C.

“We are delighted by Her Honour’s passion for nature, and appreciate her support in acknowledging the Government House grounds as a NatureHood site within Victoria’s capital region,” says Bob Peart, National Chair of Nature Canada’s Board of Directors and volunteer with the Friends of Shoal Harbour. “What a wonderful gift to give capital region residents and Canadians on the country’s sesquicentennial birthday,” he adds.

NatureHood is a Nature Canada initiative that inspires urban residents to connect with nature right where they live and to develop a long lasting relationship with nature. The Government House grounds site is within the capital region NatureHood, adjacent to Victoria Harbour and Esquimalt Lagoon and Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuaries.

“Since NatureHood’s inception in 2012, it has expanded to over a dozen Canadian urban centres, further broadening the appeal of nature with all Canadians, especially youth, exposing a new generation of nature lovers and citizen scientists to nature all around them,” says Jill Sturdy, Manager of Nature Canada’s national NatureHood program. “As a Nature Canada Woman for Nature, Her Honour’s leadership and commitment to promoting nature awareness and appreciation at the local level is commendable.” adds Sturdy.

“The Friends of Shoal Harbour Sanctuary Society (FOSH) is a proud NatureHood partner and works to highlight the amazing nearby nature of the Saanich Peninsula through public events and school trips,” says Sue Staniforth, President of FOSH.

The reception also honours the Urban Sanctuaries Project, initiated by FOSH and now under the leadership of the Robert Bateman Centre. This community initiative aims to inspire youth to become involved in learning more about the natural systems of the region, with a special focus on celebrating the first three Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Pacific Coast.

“The Robert Bateman Centre is excited by the prospect of working with the Urban Sanctuaries Project and NatureHood program to deliver on one of Robert Bateman’s most important beliefs of getting people engaged by the natural world in their own backyard,” says Peter Ord, Managing Director of the Robert Bateman Centre. “These are two great initiatives that celebrate our natural wonder and help build frameworks to keep enhancing it,” Ord adds.
The Government House grounds contain more than 14 hectares (36 acres) of maintained gardens and Garry oak meadows. The grounds is divided into numerous different zones according to plant life and/or garden style including: the British Columbia native plant garden which contains species unique to the province; a Cottage Garden which is arranged in an informal style with a mixture of ornamental and edible plants; gardens to supply cut flowers, herbs, and an orchard with apple, plum, and quince trees; a rock garden tended by the Heather Society of Victoria; iris, lily, rhododendron; rose gardens (including a formal Victorian rose garden based on the plan of that at Warwick Castle in England); and, water features such as the fountain pond and the duck pond. There is also a unique 8.9 hectares (22 acres) Garry Oak ecosystem. The gardens are open to the public year-round and are enjoyed by many visitors.


Vice-Regal Aide-de-Camp Olive

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Is He/She Gonna Make It – Part 2


Thursday evening, June 22, some of us went to see the big eagle’s nest on  Summerset Place off Beaufort Road in Sidney.  All was quiet at the nest when we arrived so we chatted with several of the birdwatchers (including Terry Venables whose pictures often appear on this website). The adult eagles showed up with food that stirred the nestlings into action. The young hawk whom Terry calls LittleEagle demonstrated his growing strength and agility by hopping and flapping from branch to branch near the nest while his seemingly enormous nestmates contented themselves by perching on the edge of the nest and flapping their wings.  Terry captured these pre-flight dances on video which you can see on his blog .

Next morning (Friday), I went back to the nest area with a friend, hoping to see the hawk again. Too late. LittleEagle had flown from the nest on a descending flight path and landed clumsily in a big fir tree out of sight, but not out of earshot because he he/she kept up a clamour for attention and food. Once again, LittleEagle made the newspapers.  There was speculation and handwringing as to what the future held for the critter. But the story goes on because on Sunday morning LittleEagle was back at the nest, showing off and being fed (see Terry’s blog, link above).

Today, Monday, June 26, LittleEagle is still hanging out near the nest, a more accomplished aeronaut but still reliant on beak-outs from adoptive parents while the cameras click below.

Farrell Boyce