Yellow-rumped Warbler by Barry Hetschko
" The Blues Sisters"
Hooded Merganser by Barry Hetschko
Today was world woman's day and we were joined by 4 lovely ladies for our count and to keep with equality there were also 4 men. This week we managed to just keep in front of the winter weather, you could see the snow coming down around the hills, but for us it kept it's distance. It was not until our last stop did some light rain would catch up with us.
Three happy campers by Cristina Cutbill
It was one of those days when the weather was not sure what it wanted to do, so we got a bit of everything except that white stuff, but there were many little piles left on our trip around today. It sure did feel more like spring as 8 counters headed out from the dog park. It was nice to have our good friend Kurlene back with us this week. Because of the trouble last week we segregated the North Americans from the Brits in two cars, it must have affected the solitary male in the Canuck vehicle as he failed to take a picture with his big lens.
Photo credit: Barry Hetschko
"Plastic Pecker"7 counters turned up at the dog park this morning and we were greeted with a Peregrine Falcon and a adult Bald Eagle, it was then that i knew we were into a good days birding.
Bald Eagle Photo by Barry Hetschko
It is hard to comprehend what we as counters had to put up with today, first of all our numbers of participants was down to just 6 and at one point i wondered if we would be greater than the number of swans seen. At times on the west side of town it was hard to even see the field let alone anything in it. the rain and heat combined with the snow made the mist so bad it reminded me of the pea soupers that I had encountered as kids back in England.
Irish Courage (Derrick Marven) by Zan Stenhouse
I arrived at the dog park to find that already two counters were out taking pictures up on the dike, i was proud of their early arrival and enthusiasm on this day.
Merlin by Barry Hetschko
"Another one bites the dust"
Red-breasted Sapsucker by Zan Stenshouse
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"
Vancouver Island Beggarticks (Bidens amplissima)
Credit: Wayne Weber
The New Year also brings new projects! The Somenos Ecosystem Stewardship Project, which will span 3 years, began in 2016 and is currently in its restoration planning phase with execution beginning in the spring.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Barry Hetschko
"i was pleased to know that the poor old chucky was raised without hormones as that's the last thing my wife wants excited in my body at the moment" - Derrick Marven
Our numbers were down a bit this year overall with many species including humans seeing lower than average numbers. This was more than likely due to the weather that we have endured over the past month. Many of the smaller birds from Chickadees through Sparrows were down. The biggest and most disconcerting was the lowest count ever recorded in our history for Great Blue Herons with just 17 individuals recorded. After what appeared to be a good breeding season where did they all go?-Derrick
Happy new year to all! We'd like to start off 2017 by saying a big Thank You to all those who support the Somenos Marsh and Cowichan Valley nature. In particular we'd like to specially thank everyone (and there are a lot of you) who supported WildWings Nature & Arts Festival 2016. We hope to make this creative, educational and inspiring festival the premier nature festival in the Valley and beyond and with this community's support we will get there. Planning for next October is underway; to volunteer or donate please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download President's Report
The SMWS is partnering with BC Wildlife Federation Wetlands Education Program to bring this free workshop to our community. It will lend GPS wetland mapping skills to participants as well as some invasive plant id and strategies for management.
As part of WildWings Festival 2015 the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society is holding a Facebook Art Auction. Two artworks, one by world renowned Robert Bateman, the other by popular local photographer Barry Hetschko are currently on the auction block. They are both on display upstairs at Just Jakes Restaurant in downtown Duncan. Both are beautifully framed by Excellent FrameWorks - EJ Hughes Gallery.
Trumpeter Swans - Barry Hetschko
Fall has returned and soon the Trumpeter Swans will follow, arriving back in the Cowichan Valley to feed and rest all winter. These once endangered North American waterfowl have been in Alaska breeding all summer. We mark this special migratory event with WildWings Festival, a celebration of nature, community and culture. The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society (SMWS) has partnered with several groups and individuals to make this year’s festival possible.
Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society Program Coordinator Presents at the Atlantic Watershed Stewardship Showcase 2015 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Elizabeth Bailey, Program Coordinator for the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society, had the opportunity to attend a workshop hosted by our water quality monitoring project partners CURA H20 this May in Halifax, Nova Scotia. CURA H20 (a Community-University Research Alliance based out of Saint Mary's University) hosted the two day workshop as an opportunity for their partners to network and be updated on the CURA's progress.
Along with a team of experts, the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society has restored a wetland pond in the Somenos Marsh to treat storm water and create wildlife habitat. It has been a long journey to get to this point but this pilot project has been a long-time goal for SMWS.
It has long been known that Somenos Lake and its tributaries, Richards, Bings and Averill Creeks are important habitat for Coho Salmon. It is thought that juveniles spend the winters foraging and growing in the lake and move up into the tributaries during the hot summer months when lake temperatures rise and water oxygen levels plummet.
Canada World Youth descended upon Cowichan this fall with a flurry of activity aimed at helping local non-profit organizations focussed in the areas of health and environment. The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society was lucky enough to have two fantastic volunteers from the Canada-Indonesia program helping with our conservation initiatives.
Another year of festivities has come to end as the Trumpeter Swans are settling in to their winter home in the Cowichan Valley and I think it is safe to say that this year's WildWings Festival was a community success.
WildWings is a local annual nature festival organized by community stewardship groups to increase awareness about our local ecology. Its October-November timing coincides with the return of the migrating Trumpeter Swans to their internationally significant wintering grounds in the Cowichan Valley. “The aim of the festival is to get people out to these events that celebrate nature and enhance our local economy”, says Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society (SMWS) Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Bailey.