Friends of Shoal Harbour hosting bird walk in Sidney

Annual walk and tea Sunday, March 26 highlights the diversity of bird sanctuary.

A flock of swans peck at each other during their transit from one side of Patricia Bay in North Saanich

There’s a depth of biodiversity within the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary on the Saanich Peninsula and the caretakers hope to tell a lot of people about it later this month.

The annual Friends of Shoal Harbour Bird Walk and Tea takes place Sunday, March 26 and this year, the event will move to the Port Sidney Marina. FOSH Chair Sue Staniforth says they decided to make the move to highlight the broad biodiversity of both sides of the Saanich Peninsula, and the sanctuary.

The Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary has been around since the 1930s and it surrounds the Saanich Peninsula. It’s a bird management area, not a complete sanctuary, per se, and an area that FOSH members take seriously. They hope annual education events like the Bird Walk and Tea help to raise awareness of the wildlife that lives around the area.

“It’s always been a popular event,” Staniforth said, adding there are anywhere from 50 to 60 people at the event — depending on the weather.

Last year, despite rain, there were around 30 people for the Walk, which until this year has always started at Patricia Bay. Staniforth said the change of location will hopefully show that there’s a wide variety of wildlife on both sides of the Peninsula. Walkers can expect to see Brant geese, Harlequin ducks and more.

Of course, Pat Bay has been a focus for birders in recent weeks, as its been a recent stopover for a large gathering of Trumpeter swans. Staniforth, who admits she’s not a bird expert (although there will be expert birders on the March 26 Walk), said that many swans at Pat Bay is not a normal thing for her.

“I just don’t recall seeing that many of them there in past years.”

The Walk will include natural history experts and birders with a regional observatory who will have spotting scopes available for people’s use. Staniforth said people coming to the Walk should dress for the weather conditions that day and they are welcome to bring binoculars.

The event starts at 2 p.m. at Port Sidney Marina in Sidney and ends at St. John’s Church on West Saanich Road.

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