Christmas bird count a West Shore holiday tradition

Event tracks population changes, migratory patterns and threats to birds

Redwings

Redwings

The Victoria Natural History Society is conducting its annual Christmas bird count this Saturday (Dec. 20) and is stopping at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site to welcome the public along.

Begun in 1958, the bird count sees natural history society members and avian enthusiasts roaming throughout Greater Victoria, identifying and counting as many species as they can. It’s a way to keep tabs on changing populations, migratory patterns and factors that could pose a threat to native ecosystems.

“It’s a good opportunity for the public to learn about what’s in their backyard,” says Bob Campbell, species-at-risk communications officer at the historic site.

Though the bird count has included Fort Rodd Hill in years past, this is the first time the park has formally partnered with the Natural History Society to extend the invitation to volunteers and the public.

Also new this year is the hot chocolate and apple cider offering in the Garry Oak Learning Meadow, as the public gather and are oriented to the count.

“The count is so close to Christmas, it’s a way for us to infuse some cheer into the afternoon,” Campbell says.

And even if no rare birds decide to show their beaks, the meadow itself is a wonder to behold. It’s a one-acre piece of Fort Rodd Hill’s grounds that has been completely restored to a native Garry Oak ecosystem, a process that has taken over 5,000 volunteer hours.

“We were just amazed at how quickly it came back,” he says. Native species like great camus, Douglas aster and native buttercup and strawberry have come up in much greater numbers than expected, transforming the sparse meadow into a colourful, blooming landscape in spring.

Campbell notes that while the blooms might be a few months away, there are still plenty of chances to see and hear much diversity in the ecosystem.

“There’s always opportunities to see birds and animals,” he says, including a resident family of river otters that live down by Fisgard Lighthouse.

Regular public admission fees apply: $3.90 for adults, $3.40 for seniors and $1.90 for children over six.

For more information, contact Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site at 250-478-5849, or visit the Natural History Society’s website at vicnhs.bc.ca.

acowan@goldstreamgazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health has confirmed the first long term care facility outbreak in Greater Victoria at Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich. (Google Maps)
Island Health records first long-term care COVID outbreak in Greater Victoria

Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich confirms one positive staff member

Itty, a Siamese cat, has been missing since a house fire in Victoria’s Fernwood neighbourhood on Friday, Nov. 27. Her owner says she has white fur with blonde and grey markings. (Facebook/ROAM)
Cat goes missing after house fire in Fernwood neighbourhood

‘Itty’ has white fur, blonde and grey markings and blue eyes

An aerial view over Oak Bay. (Black Press Media File Photo)
An aerial view over Oak Bay and the Marina. Oak Bay residents pay the highest taxes on Vancouver Island. Don Denton/Black Press
Oak Bay secondary suites study considers units old and new

Secondary suites draft report due in new year

Westcoast Impressions plans to organize a COVID-19 friendly version of the event in 2021 at the Mary Winspear Centre after having cancelled the 2020 version against the backdrop of pandemic. The opening night of the 2019 Sidney Street Market featured more than 150 vendors lined along Beacon Avenue. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sidney Street Market plans for 2021 return at Mary Winspear Centre

Tentative plan calls for the event’s return to Beacon Avenue after COVID-19 pandemic

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Most Read