October 13, 2018 All Buffleheads Celebration

Saturday, October 13 (Bufflehead Welcoming) and Sunday, October 14 (Migratory Bird Sanctuaries Cruise) were beautiful autumn days, ideal for our annual All Buffleheads Celebration. Yes, the first of the Bufflehead Ducks had returned to winter on the shores of the Saanich Peninsula earlier  than expected for good reasons as explained by naturalist Kerry Finley.

Kerry F.

Kerry Finley weaves a story about atmospheric Rossby waves and Bufflehead migrations

Buffleheads and their human admirers were welcomed by Sue Staniforth, President of Friends of Shoal Harbour. Our local MLA, Adam Olsen offered a First Nations welcome and spoke to the great value of the wild creatures of the Saanich Peninsula among whom we live and have lived for thousands of years. The great, often unspoken goal of all of us gathered on this fair morning is to promote this value to our human communities both here and beyond. This desire is the essence of the Naturehood concept we have come to embrace. Our Member of Parliament, Elizabeth May, a knowledgeable and tireless supporter of local environmental initiatives was also on hand to encourage us.

But we are not always solemn and we are definitely kid-friendly.  Elaine Ethier and Farrell Boyce performed another episode of the mock television nature show “You Won’t Believe This”  in which Hank-the-Heron offers some pointed comments on foreshore redevelopment. Sue Staniforth led a fun (non-collecting) scavenger hunt that encouraged kids and their parents to explore Roberts Bay and discover the many creatures we share this area with, through finding their shells, food sources, neighbours, nests and feathers! We engaged the first participant in our Nature Canada kids’ challenge – more about this in a separate post.

Adam Olsen-4345

Our local MLA Adam Olsen bridges the gap between ancient and modern ways

Elizabeth May-4336

Our Member of Parliament, Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May is an invaluable link to the wider world.

Jacques with sign-4362

Jacques Sirois (representing the Victoria Migratory bird Sanctuary) shows off an old sign reminding us of why the local Migratory Bird Sanctuaries were created.

Friends of Roberts Bay speaker-4373

Jocelyn Gifford tells us about a recently established neighborhood group, Friends of Roberts Bay. Friends of Shoal Harbour and Friends of Roberts Bay are natural allies.

Elaine and Farrell-4389

The host of the nature show “You Won’t Believe This” (Elaine Ethier) interviews guest Hank-the-Heron (Farrell Boyce).

Attendees at Ceremony-4379

Attendees of the Bufflehead Welcoming pay rapt attention. The person in the mauve coat is North Saanich Mayor Alice Finall, always a strong supporter.










Get ready for the 2018 All Buffleheads Celebration on Saturday, October 13 and Sunday, October 14

We have a lot of catching up to do to tell you about our activities since we last posted in May, 2018. Watch this space for a flurry of renewed activity as we settle into Fall, 2018.  In the meantime, please take note of our upcoming All Buffleheads Celebration slated for Saturday, October 13 and Sunday, October 14.

2018 All Buffleheads Celebration Poster

On Saturday, October 13, between 9:30 and and 11:00 am we are holding our annual Bufflehead welcoming ceremony at the Ardwell Beach Access on Roberts Bay (intersection of Resthaven Drive and Ardwell Avenue in Sidney BC). Roberts Bay is part of the 1931 Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary. There is a good chance that we will observe the first of the Bufflehead Ducks to arrive from their breeding grounds in the BC interior to spend the winter here on the foreshore of the Saanich Peninsula. There will be a formal welcoming celebration, displays, children’s activities, street theatre and more.

On Sunday, October 14 we are partnering with Eagle Wing Tours to offer a boat trip from Victoria Harbour, passing through the Victoria Migratory Bird Sanctuary and up the east shore of the Saanich  Peninsula to Tsehum Harbour and return. See the poster above for the contact information to book  space on this cruise. This outing is a wonderful opportunity to view the many species of waterfowl that winter here on Southern Vancouver Island.

As partners with Nature Canada in establishing the Naturehood concept on Southern Vancouver Island we have received sum very cuddly stuffed toys with which we hope to entice youngsters to write stories and draw pictures about their own Naturehoods (wild spaces and wild creatures near their homes. We hope to post some of the results on this website.

challenge poster

Spring 2018: Herons Court on Roberts Bay


April 21, 2018: A pair of herons court over a nest on the foreshore of Roberts Bay

Apparently undeterred by nearby construction activity (redevelopment of 10383 All Bay Road), a pair of herons get together above a nest on one of the Douglas Fir “heron trees”. This nest site was successfully occupied by nesting herons (perhaps the same birds) in 2017. Two chicks were raised to maturity.


Concerns have been raised that the construction activity would disturb the birds (disturbing nesting herons is illegal). So far, so good.


Looking south along the portion of 10383 All Bay Road that is fenced off from construction disturbance in order to protect the foreshore “heron trees”.

In addition to the worries about interference with the amorous herons, we are concerned about the longer term effects of the construction on the “heron trees”.  A fence has been erected some 7 m island from the trees themselves but we note that this protection zone has been carpeted by subsoil and debris over the whole width of the redevelopment property.  We will be showing these photographs to the Town of Sidney Engineer, seeking assurances that this overburden will be removed promptly and that the roots of the valuable trees have not been disturbed.

Thanks to Abby Greene and  Bill James for sharing their heron photographs.

Update/Response from the Town of Sidney Director of Development Services and Engineering, Tim Tanton, received on May 2, 2018

“I have confirmed that the approved Development Permit for this lot is very specific, and includes placement of 20-30cm of additional soil in the area of the protected trees.  As such, there are no plans to remove the soil.  At the time of submission, our arborist confirmed that the soil would not be harmful to the trees.”