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.

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.

Talk and Walks resume with mini-MycoBlitz

With COVID somewhat tamed, we are re-launching the Metchosin Talk & Walk series. We’ll begin it with a mini-MycoBlitz! We have found more than 600 species of fungi in Metchosin, but there are still species out there that have eluded our grasp. The event will begin on Friday, November 4, 7:00 p.m., at the Metchosin Council Chambers. (For the safety of all attendees, including those with compromised immune systems, we encourage attendees to wear masks when not eating or drinking.)

At the Friday evening meeting, Andy will present a slide talk on “Magical Mushrooms.” He’ll tell us how mushrooms are associated with the enchanted realm of fairy rings, elfin saddles, witch’s hat (see photo), witch’s butter, and all manner of supernatural creatures.

Then we’ll gather on Saturday morning, November 5 at 9:00 a.m. in front of the Municipal Hall. Our teams of intrepid citizen scientists will head off to all corners of Metchosin, led by our mushroom experts. We’ll return around noon to Municipal Hall, where the experts review the teams’ finds, wrapping up by 12:30.

This year, instead of displaying our finds in the Council Chambers, the Metchosin mushrooms will be taken to the South Vancouver Island Mushroom Show, which begins at 10:00 am, Sunday, November 6, at St Luke’s Church, 3821 Cedar Hill Cross Road. Metchosinites are invited to attend the show (more info at and see our local mushrooms labeled and displayed.

Friday night and Saturday morning are both free, family fun events, suitable for all ages. 

Mushroom art cards available

On May 15, the new 2022 Mushroom Art Card set is available for purchase. A project by Metchosin Foundation and Metchosin ArtPod, the boxed set of 36 heavy-cardstock 4″ X 6″ cards features the work of three dozen (mostly local) artists on the card faces.

The cards depict locally common mushrooms. On the back of each card is a description of the mushroom by the authors of the new Mushrooms of British Columbia. More information about the cards is on the Metchosin Biodiversity site.          


2019 Marine Day with the CRD

It was a beautiful day at Witty’s Beach for Marine Day 2019. The Metchosin Biodiversity Project partnered with the CRD to plan and host it. Metchosin Foundation came to the event with a booth.

Over 350 people showed up at the beach between 11 am and 2 pm to participate in the program. The CRD Parks staff, out in force, had events such as beach seining, face painting, and scuba divers bringing up sea creatures.  The Metchosin Biodiversity Project sponsored two walks, one with Joel Ussery to look at estuary plants, one with Sean Rangel to look at sea creatures and seaweeds. 

A number of people stopped by the Metchosin Foundation booth to look at the displays and talk with the Directors.  Nicole Lalonde, Morgan Freeman, and Kem Luther (wo)manned the booth.

Andrew Simon talk and iNaturalist bioblitz

On May 10/11, the Metchosin Biodiversity Project hosted a combination Walk and Talk and BioBlitz.  Andrew Simon, one of the region’s experts on bioblitzes, did a talk on Friday night on “Backyard Biodiversity.” 

The next morning, a group of about 15 people met with Andrew and Scott Gilmore (insect specialist from Lantzville) to do a biological inventory of Metchosin Wilderness Park.

Picture by James Holkko. Left to right: Caroline and Mike Bailey, Andrea Rangel, Jochen Moehr, Sean Rangel, Scott Gilmore, Bev Hall, James Holkko, Marcia Waterway, Shelly O’Conner, Kem Luther, Andrew Simon, Lise Gagnon, Ron O’Connor.

Unlike previous Metchosin BioBlitzes, this event was organized around the widely-used iNaturalist bioblitz software. Mike Fischer helped to prepare participants for the event by running a one-hour training session on Friday, before Andrew’s talk.

Many of the participants at the Saturday bioblitz brought their smartphones in order to record their observations.  Some of them brought cameras, planning to upload the pictures to iNaturalist at a later time.


Happy hours in Metchosin Wilderness Park. Pictures by James Holkko. Select to enlarge.

Six of the bioblitz participants made, and uploaded to iNaturalist, about 225 observations of approximate 140 different species.  You can view the iNaturalist project additions for the day on the iNaturalist project site. (Key to observers: carolinemetchosin is Caroline Bailey, mwaterway is Marcia Waterway, fmgee is Scott Gilmore, chlorophilia is Andrew Simon,  bioblitz4242 is Sean Rangel). The observation added about 20 new species to the 2600+ already in the Metchosin Biodiversity database.

Except for those by Sean, the day’s observations were almost all from Metchosin Wilderness Park. Sean and Andrea went to Weir’s beach later in the day and made algae observations.

A selection of species from the day:

Metchosin Earth Day 2019

On Sunday, April 14, 2019, the Metchosin Biodiversity Project joined with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria and Habitat Acquisition Trust to celebrate Earth Day in Metchosin

Despite a cool wind and occasional sprinkles, about 170 eager adults and children joined the 30 volunteers to enjoy music, BBQ hot dogs, nature hikes, crafts, games, and plant scavenger hunts.

Music for the event was by the fantastic Bald Eagles, a Victoria combo composed of musician/naturalists. (click to stop and start video)

Three organizations, Habitat Acquisition Trust, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Metchosin Foundation, had displays for the visitors to browse.