Sunday, April 24. Friends of Shoal Harbour and St. John’s United Church Host the 2022 Birdwalk & Tea, a Community Event

The 2022 Birdwalkers spot a water bird of interest from the Scoter Trail. Observers walked the length of the trail from south to north, taking a mid-point diversion inland to observe the activities of birds of the thickets and woods.

Birdwalkers at rest. Not only is it tea-time, but also it is story-time! See stories below.

Bob Peart, Chair of Friends of Shoal Harbour gives an overview of FOSH activities. These include (1) championing uniform (bioregional) protection of natural spaces and wild creatures across the three Peninsula municipalities along with the other members of the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition (2) promoting improved stewardship of the 1931 Migratory Bird Sanctuary (Tsehum Harbour, Tseyhum Lagoon, and Roberts Bay) on the northeast “corner” of the Saanich Peninsula, with emphasis on practical and enforced regulation of moored boats in Tsehum Harbor, (3) speaking out vigorously when natural spaces and their inhabitants seem threatened by urban developments and (4) building a community of supporters through informative public events such as the October All Buffleheads Day and the Spring Birdwalk and Tea.

Malcolm is a member of Friends of Shoal Harbour, a participant in the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition and the coordinator of the Tsehum Harbour Task Force. He has been active in bringing attention to the problems associated with the  placement of private mooring buoys in coastal waters, particularly in Tsehum Harbour and the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

There was oversight and enforcement of private mooring buoys by the Canadian Coast Guard until 2004. In 2004 Transport Canada’s Navigation Protection Program, intended to streamline the regulations for the benefit of commercial operators such as fish farms, effectively removed critical oversight and enforcement. Moreover, Transport Canada lacked the sea-going capability of the Coast Guard.

Malcolm is working with political partners, other societies, First Nations, and businesses to reestablish effective regulation and enforcement of private mooring buoys. We collectively must do better to protect our marine ecosystems while representing a community vision that respects the values of its citizens.

Here is a link to the Tsehum Harbour Task Force Mandate:

Jocelyn Gifford represents Roberts Bay Residents, a group of neighbours who live in or near the Roberts Bay area. The group works closely with Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH) and the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition, providing information to neighbours and advocating to preserve the bay’s fragile ecosystems which include eel grass beds, mudflats, spawning beaches, Great Blue Heron and Bald eagle nests, with the goal of insuring that Roberts Bay remains a safe refuge for wildlife and an inspiration for residents and visitors for generations to come.  The multi-year Roberts Bay Restoration Project, with Peninsula Streams, SeaChange Marine Conservation Society, and others, seeks to address the effects of development: beach erosion, flattening of the intertidal zone, erosion of estuary banks, reduction of sea grass meadows and decreases in bird populations, with particular attention to Mermaid Creek, which is now the storm drain for much of downtown Sidney. Jocelyn distributed a pamphlet about the group and the project and invited anyone interested to contact the group. Roberts Bay Residents may be contacted by email at

Living on the Saanich Peninsula as If It Were Home

The title of the 3rd and last Webinar fielded by Friends of Shoal Harbour ( February.24) The title “Living on the Saanich Peninsula as if I were Home” was inspired by the book “Living in the World As If It Were Home” by philosopher and poet, Tim Lilburn.

These titles suggest that our homes extend beyond the walls of our dwellings to include not only the society in which we live but also the surroundings in which the society is embedded.

In Hamilton, Ontario, where I worked for 30 years as a Great Lakes scientist, I told school kids that you could learn only a limited amount about frogs by examining them captive in a jar. You might consider the frog’s normal surroundings as “parts of the frog’s body outside its skin”, some easily understood, some mysterious because we cannot talk to frogs.

This observation about frogs explains why I am interested in, not just the obvious parts of our bodies outside the skin but also the intangible ones such as the enjoyment of our natural surroundings, our sense of belonging in a community, etc. because loss of these important parts harms our relationship with the rest of the world.

Listed below are the other people who contributed to this webinar.

Tiffany Joseph from the Wsanec Leadership Council. Tiffany has represented the Wsanec people in the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition and she spoke compellingly about the pre-settler relationship her forebears enjoyed with all the inhabitants of the Peninsula. The word “indigenous” gets bandied about carelessly, but when I hear it now, I think of Tiffany’s stories.

Jacklyn Barr is one of the animators of the Saanich Peninsula Environmental Coalition. Jacklyn is a person of action first and foremost and could make herself useful in just about any outdoor fieldwork. Without people like Jacklyn, we scientific cogitators would not have a lot of data to chew on.

Reverend Shana Lyngood, Co-Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Victoria. Shana is well acquainted with the human condition through her profession and she also reads. It was Shana who related to the Adam and Eve story and who recognized the book “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a biologist of First Nations ancestry. Kimmerer writes about reconciling the insights of both First Nations traditional knowledge with those of science. Shana’s presentation and Kimmerer’s book align beautifully with Tiffany’s stories.

Here is a link to a recording of the February 24 webinar:

As a result of this “exploration” I believe that all the participants in the February 24 webinar share the hope that all of us here on the Saanich Peninsula can become collectively more indigenous, recognizing and respecting the Saanich Peninsula, it’s people, its rich natural surroundings as inseparable parts of our home. Firmly planted here, we could reach out to the world without regret.

Making Whoopee! Farrell Boyce and Elaine Ethier (with assist from Bob Peart as CBC radio announcer) goof off disguised as as successfully amorous Stellar’s Jays

Another May, the same old way,
We’re very busy, and that’s OK.
So what’s the reason? Well it’s the season
For making whoopee!

A lot of flights to gather bugs,
We sleep at nights; no time for hugs.
It may seem sappy but we’re quite happy
When making whoopee.

You could call it a love nest
Up in the sheltering boughs.
We’re doing what true Jays can do best,
The work Mother Nature allows.

Although we’re puffin’ to keep ‘em fed
We keep on stuffin’ ‘till we’re in bed
We’re still quite willing; we find it thrilling
Just making whoopee!

The afternoon was well-photographed as you can see above – except for one notable omission – the splendid refreshment table prepared and staffed by members of St. John’s United Church. Your editor felt compelled to acknowledge this significant contribution with a cartoonish drawing Maybe a proper photo will show up.

Pre Covid, Friends of Shoal Harbour rented the downstairs floor of the church for the tea portion of the event and organized the refreshments too. Adjusting to the realities of Covid, it seemed wiser to hold the event outside and hire the Church to provide the refreshments. St. John’s folks organize refreshments every Saturday morning during the growing season. When we asked for a statement/bill so that the FOSH treasurer could prepare a cheque. We were told that there would be no bill, St. John’s United wants to be a full partner in tis event and other similar community-building events. St. John’s United Church and Friends of Shoal Harbour are now partners in community building and that feels very good!

One last thing: Friends of Shoal Harbour (and your editor particularly) extend thanks to Linda Hembruff of St. John’s United Church and her team of helpers not only for their contributions to this event but also for assistance and encouragement going back to the very first Birdwalk and Tea adventure.

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries In Greater Victoria, BC: New videos produced by NatureHood

Rick Searle at work at a Friends of Shoal Harbour “All Buffleheads Celebration”

Appended below are links to three short videos, arranged, produced and directed by Rick Searle, Greater Victoria Naturehood Coordinator. Filming and editing by Peter Campbell of Gumboot Productions. ____________________________________________________

Bob Peart, FOSH Chair, looks out over Tsehum Harbour (part of the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Here is a link to a short video about the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary:


Lindsey McCrank, Assistant Harbours and Watershed Cordinator for the Capital Regional District, talks about the Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Here is a link to a short video about the Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary:


Jacques Sirois, Chair of Friends of the Victoria Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Here is a link to a short video about the Victoria Migratory Bird Sanctuary.


A Fresh look at Roberts Bay:

New Information Shared by the Roberts Bay Residents Association

Roberts Bay looking north across the Mermaid Creek Estuary (summer 2021). Photo by Mary Chu.

Roberts Bay Restoration Project

Hot off the press!!  We just received the attached  report  “Analysis of Current and Historic Conditions in Roberts Bay” from Peninsula Streams and Sea Change Societies. Prepared by CORI (Coastal and Oceans Resources Inc.), it provides a detailed description of things like the slope and structure of the shoreline around the bay plus the plants and animals found at each level. This is in addition to the birds and other wildlife we are already familiar with which depend on the bay’s ecology for their survival. Starting at page 40, (see link below)  the work on the Mermaid Creek estuary and saltmarsh demonstrates how the saltmarsh has diminished and receded in the past  60 years and how this  relates to carbon storage and climate change. The final paragraph (page 60) concludes: “This analysis provides insights into potential restoration efforts. It is clear the estuary can support a much larger marsh which is a good basis for restoration and provides a reasonable expectation of success. The active erosion of the front edge, the sediment deposits on the marsh during storm events, and the coastal squeeze the marsh is currently experiencing make it clear that simply adding sediment to the beach below the marsh and replanting (or allowing colonization) will fail if measures are not put in place to mitigate wave action and prevent erosion.”  This report, along with other documented evidence like water quality and volumes at the Mermaid Creek outfall, provides a foundation for the Town, Peninsula Streams and Sea Change to seek funding to engage shoreline restoration specialists and work with residents to maintain and enhance Roberts Bay for the future.

Reprinted with permission from the Roberts Bay Residents Steering Committee

Editor’s Note: It is understood that the rapid surges in flow delivered to Roberts Bay following heavy rainfall events are potentially harmful to the creek estuary and to Roberts Bay due to both quality and quantity of the storm water. The :”atmospheric rivers” experienced this autumn (2021) seem likely to become seasonal events heightening the importance of adequate storm water management..