Metchosin Biodiversity

Welcome to the web site of the Metchosin BioBlitz and MycoBlitz. The team at the Metchosin Biodiversity Project sponsors the blitzes and publishes the results on these pages in order to:

  • Increase our understanding of Metchosin’s species and ecosystems.
  • Share natural history information with interested people.
  • Use this information to protect Metchosin’s species and ecosystems.

We started our work in 2011 with BioBlitzes and (a bit later) MycoBlitzes. Our most up-to-date inventories of Metchosin species are available in the Metchosin Biodiversity project of iNaturalist. By the end of 2023 we had catalogued almost 3600 species, from almost 23,000 observations made 700 people. See the posts below for the latest totals. We encourage everyone interested in helping us to log their photographed Metchosin observations in iNaturalist. All of these observations will be automatically logged by our 2024 collection project. Curators will review these and move most of them into our iNaturalist database (Metchosin Biodiversity Project).

For more about the Metchosin Talk and Walk series, see the Talk and Walk pages.

The Metchosin Biodiversity Project acknowledges the regular support of the Metchosin Foundation. The project is a member of IMERSS.

Insect Art Card Launch

A five-year old collaboration between two very different Metchosin organizations—the Metchosin ArtPod and the Metchosin Foundation—has produced a new fusion of nature and art: a set of Insect Art Cards.

The first two years of BC Art Nature Card projects merged the artistic talents of 72 Vancouver Island and area artists under the coordination of Memet Burnett at Metchosin ArtPod, the scientific enthusiasm and financial support of the Metchosin Foundation, and the avian knowledge of naturalists at the Rocky Point Bird Observatory under the supervision of birder extraordinaire Ann Nightingale. The result was two sets of popular Bird Art Cards. In 2022, the bird sets were joined by a deck of Mushroom Art Cards.Thirty-six different artists participated in that project.

Some of the artists and volunteers pose for a group portrait. Photo by Steven Kelly.

After a year’s hiatus and with the prodding of a batch of artists keen to take on yet another kingdom, insects became the focus for 2024. This new art card project tapped into the expertise of Claudia Copley, Entomology Collections Manager and Researcher at the Royal BC Museum. The texts provided by Claudia for the back sides of the cards are fascinating and informative. Flip the cards over and you will see the gorgeous work of 36 local artists who donated images of their artwork for this fundraiser.

The launch party for BC Art Nature Cards 2024: INSECT Deck happened on National Insect Appreciation Day, 8 June, at Bilston Farm, 4185 Metchosin Road, between 1-3 pm. Many of the artists and people from the general public attended. The people who came joined in an insect “hunt” for the images in the set that had been posted around the grounds. Claudia and Darren Copley took people around the grounds for a look at live insects. Neville Winchester brought display posters about Metchosin’s five-year insect study with Malaise Traps. 

The Insect Art Card launch was helped by a kind and timely grant from the West Shore Arts Council.

Joan and Margaretha explain how the project came about.
Neville Winchester's new poster about Metchosin's 5-year insect biomass study
The Copley's beat the bushes for insects--and find them!

Salish Sea Gull Project Talk and Walk on Mar 15/16

Join Metchosinites at the District of Metchosin Council Chambers at 7:00 pm, Friday, March 15, for a slide presentation by Sonya Pastran on the Salish Sea Gull Project. This project is a vital component of the Salish Sea Marine Bird Monitoring and Conservation Program of Environment and Climate Change Canada.

This collaborative research initiative, spearheaded by Dr. Mark Hipfner of Environment and Climate Change Canada and supported by partners such as Dr. Tony Williams, Dr. Amy Wilson, Dr. Marie Auger-Methé, Dr. Theresa Burg, Dr. Keith Hobson, and Dr. John Elliott, was launched in 2020. It is an ongoing exploration into the lives of gull species in the human-impacted Salish Sea. Join Sonja as she shares insights into the movements, diets, and contaminant levels of these coastal avian residents.The Project’s research is expanding what we know about the dynamic ecology of marine birds in the Salish Sea.

For the walk portion of this Talk and Walk, we will gather at 9:00 am, Saturday, March 16 in parking lot at the end of Witty’s Beach Road. The walk, approximately two hours long, will be a sea-watch. We will identify birds on the water and look for colour-banded gulls. Bring binoculars if you have them. (An added bonus–Sonya’s partner, Joachim Bertrands, will be co-leading the walk. Joachim is an international bird tour guide and has done a number of bird identification workshops for Rocky Point Bird Observatory.)

Sonya Pastran is a member of the Wildlife Research Division in Environment and Climate Change Canada. She is based out of the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, BC.

Sonya earned her Bachelor’s degree in Ecology from the University of Calgary, where she later gained field experience as a Wildlife Monitor for a consulting firm. This hands-on work fueled her decision to pursue a Master of Science degree in Biology at Simon Fraser University focusing on the marine habitat use of Marbled Murrelets on BC’s North Coast. Since completing her academic journey, she has participated in various seabird projects across the Pacific region. In her current role, she contributes to planning and executing innovative seabird research. Part of this research involves the Salish Sea Gull Project along the British Columbia coast.

Metchosin Biodiversity Project 2023 Species Summary

Centre photo by David Slipher. Clockwise from upper left: Dacrymyces capitatus by Angelica Save; Dumetella carolinensis, the grey catbird, by Simone L. (simonele); Ortholasma pictipes, a harvestman, by Darren and Claudia Copley; Pyrola aphylla, leafless wintergreen, by Kem Luther; Aeolidia loui, warty shag-rug nudibranch, by Angelica Save; Orthotrichum columbicum by Randal Mindell; Unguiculariopsis lettaui, oakmoss spot, by James Holkko

BC is fortunate to have three active long-term species inventory projects. One of them is in Metchosin. At the end of 2023, the Metchosin Biodiversity Project had curated records of almost 3600 species from the District of Metchosin.

Since the records and record-keeping of the Metchosin Biodiversity Project were transferred to iNaturalist in 2018, the number of new species added to the database each year has been steadily increasing, from 120 in 2020 to more than 170 in 2023. And many more people have become involved in ferreting out these new species. You can see the current totals of species, people, and observations on the iNaturalist project page at (short link:

This year, the Metchosin Biodiversity Project, in addition to its ongoing work in collecting and vetting iNaturalist records, also sponsored a one-day (October 21) collection of mushroom species samples, a MycoBlitz. Many of these collected mushrooms were put on display at the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society’s mushroom show at the Royal BC Museum (RBCM) in October 22. Metchosin residents received invitations to one part of the RBCM week-long Fungal Fest, an early screening of a new IMAX movie Fungi: Web of Life. The Metchosin Biodiversity Project also organized a November species survey of a Metchosin property located north of the old Sooke flowline. A dozen invited experts found and recorded—in just six hours—more than 400 species on the property. About 40 of these observations turned out to be species that hadn’t been previously noted in the District of Metchosin.

Here is quick review, broken down by category, of some of the species that were added to the Metchosin Biodiversity Project’s database in 2023:

Fungi. Forty new fungi were recorded. Joey Tanney of the Pacific Forestry Centre exercised his Big Expertise in Really Small Fungi to add ten new species to the database. Metchosin resident Bill Weir, who likes his fungi bigger than Joey’s, spotted mushrooms of about seven new species, including the sushi mushroom (Macrocystidia cucumis)—so named it smells like cucumber and fish. A regular contributor to the Metchosin count also found a new species of witch’s butter, Dacrymyces capitatus, proving once again that there are witches in Metchosin.

Lichens. A few lichens became part of the species count this year, but what caused the biggest lichen buzz was not a lichen itself, but a fungus growing on a lichen. During a cold January visit to Witty’s Lagoon, Gabe Schp found Unguiculariopsis lettaui, oakmoss spot, growing on lobes of the lichen Evernia prunastri, the oakmoss lichen. He made an iNaturalist record of it, and when this record was pointed out to local lichen expert Juliet Pendray, she was thrilled to hear that long-sought “little ung” (as she called it) had be found. A quickly-organized expedition by the Metchosin Biodiversity Project found and photographed Gabe’s stand of the little ung while it was still fruiting.

Birds. No additional mammals showed up for the count this year, but three birds that had not yet been catalogued in the database decided to visit Metchosin, all of them wandering outside of their typical ranges. Two of them were Say’s phoebe and Lewis’s woodpecker. The third was the grey catbird, Dumetella caroliensis, a vocal prodigy with long, complicated songs. It has a call that sounds a lot like a mewing cat.

Insects. About fifty insects and spiders entered the official Metchosin list in 2023. Darren and Claudia Copley, local spider experts, found a harvestman, Ortholasma pictipes, that hadn’t been noted before. Many of the new insects were photographed and identified by Metchosin residents Garry Fletcher and Mike Fischer, both participants in the University of Victoria’s Metchosin Insect Biomass project, a study supported by the Metchosin Foundation.

Vascular Plants. About twenty plants joined the Metchosin Biodiversity Project database in 2023. In June, the discovery of the exquisite blooms of Pyrola aphylla, leafless wintergreen, at a property along Rocky Point Road caused some excitement and brought people out to look. Leafless wintergreen is a mycoheterotroph—lacking chlorophyll, it makes a living by establishing a (possibly unequal) partnership with fungi. Not having leaves, however, doesn’t mean it has no flowers. The blooms of this wintergreen are a radiant magenta.

Bryophyes. A few new mosses and liverworts are catalogued each year. This year, the presence of the bryological specialist Randal Mindell at the November survey by the Metchosin Biodiversity Project of the north Metchosin private property added eleven new bryos, including a tiny tuft of the well-proportioned Orthotrichum columbicum.

Marine life. Ten or so of the new 2023 species were marine organisms. Angelica Save found Aeolidia loui. Its common name is the “warty shag-rug nudibranch,” a name much less beautiful than the creature that bears it. This sea slug has a superpower—it can chemically disable the defenses of the anemone it preys on.


It has been a great year, perhaps not for munched anenomes, but certainly for species counters. The Metchosin Biodiversity Project hopes that many more Metchosinites will take up their cameras and smartphones to help with the 2024 inventory, which has already begun.


Metchosin Foundation 2023 Newsletter

The Metchosin Foundation has generously supported the work of the Metchosin Biodiversity Project over the last twelve years. In addition, the Foundation support multiple projects in Metchosin that align closely with the goals of the Metchosin Biodiversity Project.

The foundation has recently revived its annual newsletter. It tells about many of its current projects.

Many Metchosinites support the foundation and its work. For further information, please see their website.

November 2023 Survey of Buck Hill Property

On November 6, 2023, a team of field specialists surveyed a private property in Metchosin north of Sooke Road. The team, consisting of Hans Roemer, Mary Sanseverino, Kristen Miskelly, Carrina Maslovat, Randal Mindell, Ryan Batten, Kem Luther, Andy MacKinnon, Joey Tanney, Claudia Copley, Darren Copley, and Robb Bennett, are pictured above. 

The field team found more than 300 different species of flora, fauna, and funga. More than 20 new species were added to the Metchosin Biodiversity Project database. Thanks to the Metchosin Foundation for their support of this effort.

Metchosin MycoBlitz 2023 foray

We will be contributing Metchosin mushrooms to the SVIMS annual mushroom show, which will be on Sun, October 22, at the Royal BC Museum, 10-4pm (free, admission by donation). To join us in our Metchosin mushroom hunt, meet Andy and Kem at 9:00 am on Sat, October 21, 2023 in front of the District of Metchosin offices. We should be done by about  Mushrooms are a-poppin’ in Metchosin. We may find such beauties as the false chanterelle pictured here, which appeared last week.

Lyn Baldwin — Nature Journalling — Talk/Walk Sept 2023

On September 1 and 2, 2023 Lyn Baldwin joined Metchosin residents for a Talk and Walk based on her new book, Drawing Botany Home, and on nature journaling. 




Lyn, a professor at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, read from her book. She also brought along several of her illustrated nature journals.  After the talk, she signed books.


Explaining how to use the art kits.
Some "found" art in a maple stump.
One of the exercise journals produced by a student



On Saturday morning, a group of 15 artists and would-be artists met with Lyn at Matheson CRD Park to do four exercises in nature journaling. Lyn brought along small painting and drawing kits and art paper for each of the students. They wandered along the path to the lake, pausing to do the exercises.

Amanda Lewis on Big Trees

Amanda Lewis is a big-tree tracker and an award-winning book editor. Born in Ireland, she now divides her time between the internet and Gabriola Island, Snuneymuxw territory. Tracking Giants: Big Trees, Tiny Triumphs, and Misadventures in the Forest is her first book.  Photo by Sydney Woodward at Niamh Studio.

Topic: The Pointed Forest: Big Trees and Small Joys

Coming up the weekend of July 7-8 is a first-time event in the Metchosin Talk and Walk series — a look at big trees. The presentation will be by Amanda Lewis, author of the new book, Tracking Giants

Talk: Friday, July 7, 7:00 pm, District of Metchosin Council Chambers. Besides giving the talk, Amanda will be signing copies of her new book, Tracking Giants. Bring your copy to be signed. The book can be purchased at all bookstores. Description of the book from the Greystone Books site at

When she first moved back west after nearly a decade away, Amanda Lewis was an overachieving, burned-out book editor most familiar with trees as dead blocks of paper. A dedicated “indoorswoman” she could barely tell a birch from a beech. But that didn’t stop her from pledging to visit all of the biggest trees in British Columbia, a Canadian province known for its expensive yoga studios, Patagonia-wearing baristas, and… extremely gigantic trees.

The “Champion” trees on Lewis’s ambitious list ranged from mighty Western red-cedars to Douglas firs. They lived on remote islands and at the center of dense forests. The only problem? Well, there were many… Climate change and a pandemic aside, Lewis’s lack of wilderness experience, the upsetting reality of old-growth logging, the ever-changing nature of trees, and the pressures of her one-year timeframe complicated her quest.

Burned out again—and realizing that her “checklist” approach to life might be the problem—Lewis reframed her search for trees to something humbler and more meaningful: getting to know forests in an interconnected way.

Weaving in insights from writers and artists, Lewis uncovers what we’re really after when we pursue big things—and reveals that sometimes it’s the smaller joys, the mindsets we have, and the companions we’re with, that make us feel more connected to the natural world.

Walk: Saturday, July 8, 2023, 10:00 am  Mr. Big Tree himself, Hans Roemer, will join Amanda and the rest of us for the walk. The walk will be at Royal Roads. We will meet at the corner of Lagoon Road and Heatherbell Road in Colwood and proceed via the back gate into the grounds of Royal Roads University.  A map:,-123.4804517/48.4209303,-123.4804053/@48.4203182,-123.4834129,16z/data=!4m2!4m1!3e2

There is usually parking along Heatherbell Road. 

                                  —  The Metchosin Biodiversity Project

A look ahead…

In September, Lyn Baldwin will be joining us to talk about her new book, Drawing Botany Home. Her talk will be Sept 1, 7:00, Metchosin Council Chambers.

A special event is coming up in October. The Talk and Walk that month is, by tradition, about mushrooms. This year the Royal BC Museum is launching a spectacular new IMAX film, Fungi: The Web of Life (45 minutes, site and trailer) on October 20. Prior to the opening, the museum will be hosting exclusive screenings for select audiences. We have arranged for members of this mailing list to be invited to the first screening, on the evening of Wed, October 18. It will be a museum-theatre-ticketed event at regular IMAX prices. More information later on how to register. This will be followed on the morning of Sat, October 21, by a Metchosin mushroom foray. We will be collecting specimens on the foray to display at the annual SVIMS mushroom show, which will be on Sun, October 22, at the Royal BC Museum (free, admission by donation).

Talk & Walk March 24-25, Birds and Tech

Ann Nightingale is an avid birder who is a self-described late bloomer and bird evangelist. By volunteering with the Victoria Natural History Society and Rocky Point Bird Observatory, she feels she has largely caught up with what she missed by not starting until her forties. She enjoys sharing what she has learned with beginners and experts of all ages.

Coming up the weekend of March 24/25, an outstanding event in our Talk and Walk series — a presentation by Victoria’s (not to mention Metchosin’s) most famous birder, Ann Nightingale!

How Technology is Changing
the Way We See Birds

Talk: Friday, March 24, 7:00 pm, District of Metchosin Council Chambers. Spring migration is underway! The movement of birds has been studied throughout the ages, but miniaturization of circuitry, crowdsourced data, and advances in radar and other technologies are providing insights that were not previously observable. Join Ann Nightingale of Rocky Point Bird Observatory to learn about ways the study of birds has changed and how you can become involved.


Walk: Saturday, March 25, 8:00 am (the early birder gets the bird). Meet at the Galloping Goose parking lot on Rocky Point Road for a walk along the trail towards Pedder Bay and beyond. We will be looking at all the birds, with a particular emphasis on returning spring migrants. Bring binoculars if you have them.



Talk & Walk Feb 3-4 Resilient Coasts for Salmon

Metchosin’s first Talk & Walk for 2023 takes place February 3-4. Join the Resilient Coasts for Salmon (RC4S) team to learn about coastal processes, climate change impacts, and how we can promote healthy shorelines that protect our homes and important habitat by using nature-based solutions to better adapt to sea level rise. RC4S is a collaborative initiative and five-year project led by the Pacific Salmon Foundation with partners such as the Stewardship Centre for BC, World Wildlife Fund Canada, Peninsula Streams and Shorelines, and others.

On Friday, February 3rd, 7:00 p.m. at the Metchosin Municipal Hall, the RC4S team will lead a presentation and interactive Q&A session about how the project is helping to raise awareness about local impacts of sea level rise on East Coast Vancouver Island, and how we can use nature-based solutions, including the Green Shores® framework to adapt to sea level rise.

On Saturday February 4th, 9:30 a.m., we’ll gather again at Municipal Hall to carpool for an excursion to a nearby beach for a shoreline walk. We will assess the current conditions and processes occurring on this beach, discuss its habitat value and potential vulnerabilities, and then participate in a hands-on workshop.

Presentation by Kyla Sheehan and Maria Catanzaro of the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Kelly Loch of the Stewardship Centre for BC. After the talk, a new 12-minute video on native plants, featuring Metchosin’s own Kristen Miskelly, will be shown.