There may have been no Buffleheads on All Buffleheads Day, but a small crowd gathered in Sidney’s Lillian Hoffar Park on Sunday, Oct. 14 is willing to give them another chance.
The small, diving duck is a regular returnee to the area each fall and winter as part of their annual migration. They stop to feed and fatten up on nutrients found both above and below the surface of the Shoal Harbour area. They are noted for their punctuality, but this year the folks welcoming them back would have to wait for another day. Not a problem, for most birders are also a tenacious bunch. A little rain won’t keep them from making a sighting or two this week.
While the annual event welcoming back the Buffleheads is generally for the people involved, it has a broader purpose — to help educate others about the migratory bird sanctuary there that was created in 1931. The Friends of Shoal Harbour Sanctuary was formed to promote awareness and to help people enjoy it.
It is one of three federal migratory bird sanctuaries in the Victoria region, the other two being Victoria Harbour and Esquimalt Lagoon.
To keep Shoal Harbour a welcoming pit stop for the ducks and other birds, volunteers with the group encourage people to ensure their foreshore areas are bird-friendly.
They and others also keep a hawk-like eye out for other impacts on the harbour — from development to pollution — that would also impact the wildlife there.
The Friends also hope to make All Buffleheads Day an annual event in Sidney, attracting birders and others to the area. It could someday be both an economic — and environmental — boon to the community.