Joining a local natural history club is an excellent way to learn more about nature and meet like-minded people. The Victoria Natural History Society (VNHS) has a number of interesting walks and presentations for both members and non-members throughout the year. Field trips are ranked according to difficulty:
- Level 1 – easy walking, mostly level paths
- Level 2 – paths can be narrow with uneven terrain
- Level 3 – steeper grades or obstacles in paths requiring agility
- Level 4 – very steep, insecure footing or longer hikes requiring good physical condition
March 2010 Field Trips
The following are walks and presentations hosted by the Victoria Natural History Society during the month of March, 2010. To learn more about the VNHS please visit their website at http://www.vicnhs.bc.ca/.
Saturday, March 6
Birding in Parksville
Come to see the spectacle of the annual Pacific Herring spawn. Massive numbers of sea ducks and gulls are close to where we can observe them feeding on the herring roe. We can also enjoy the beginning of the congregation of the Brant Geese in the Parksville-Qualicum Beach Wildlife Management Area and vicinity. Meet at Helmcken Park & Ride at 7:00 a.m. This will be an all-day trip so bring lunch. Carpool expenses will be about $15.00 per person. Contact Rick Schortinghuis, 250-885-2454, for more information. Field Trip Level 1.
Sunday, March 7
Royal Roads Native Tree Walk
Hans Roemer will share his knowledge of the big trees on the Royal Roads University and neighbouring Department of National Defense (DND) properties. Hans has been researching these trees for several years and it is delightful to enjoy a walk through the woods with him, admiring these giants that include Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Grand Fir (Abies grandis) and other natives. Several of these trees are considered exceptional due to their size. Hans will explain how they have reached these huge proportions, as well as talk about other interesting natural features in the area. Although we will be walking at a slow pace, this will be an outing for those who are comfortable clambering up and down hills on uneven ground.
A walking stick and good hiking boots are recommended. Dress for the weather. Bring a snack and a drink if you wish. Starts from the tennis courts near the entrance to Royal Roads at 9:30 a.m. There is a fee for parking at Royal Roads. No pets please. Contact Agnes at or 250-721-0634 for more information. Field Trip Level 3.
Tuesday, March 9
Natural History Presentation and AGM
Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change
Polar bears are remarkably resilient to changing climate, attested to by their survival through a multitude of past climate shifts, some of inconceivable magnitude. Join Dr. Susan Crockford of the University of Victoria Anthropology department for this talk that incorporates little-known biological and historical facts commonly omitted from popular polar bear accounts into a balanced overview of life and adaptation on Arctic sea ice.
We meet at 7:30 p.m. in Room 159 of the Fraser Building. Everyone is welcome. Bring a friend and a coffee mug.
Sunday, March 14
Enjoying Native Trees and Shrubs
It should be feeling a lot like spring by this time with buds bursting open and most leaves starting to form but still challenging to identify the native shrubs and trees. We will wander around Ten Mile Point, visiting Konukson and Phyllis Parks, and walking along the cliffs near the water to check for early flowers. We’ll also visit the Bald Eagle nests, and maybe even find an early Rufous Hummingbird. Start at the Lynns (3913 Woodhaven Terrace, off Tudor Avenue) at 10:00 a.m. Although we will be walking at a slow pace, this will be an outing for those who are comfortable clambering up and down hills on uneven ground. A walking stick and good hiking boots are recommended. Dress for the weather and bring a snack and a drink if you wish. No pets please. Contact Agnes or 250-721-0634 for more information. Field Trip Level 3.
Sunday, March 14
Nature Walk at Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park
Join Darren and Claudia Copley for a walk in the park – who knows what we’ll find! Meet at the group shelter near the “Filter Beds” parking lot at the south end of Beaver Lake at 9:30 a.m. For those taking public transit, the #72 from downtown will
drop you off outside the park entrance around 9 a.m. Field Trip Level 2.
Tuesday, March 16
Botany Night – Alpine Plants in Northern BC
In connection with Botany BC 2009, Hans Roemer and Ryan Batten used as many opportunities as they could to access alpine habitats and brought back plenty of photographs, specimens, and observations. Swan Lake Nature House,
7:30 p.m. Admission is free. Bring a friend.
Wednesday, March 24
Birders’ Night – Birds Oiled at Sea
Oil, even in very small amounts (chronic oiling), can kill marine birds. The Birds Oiled at Sea (BOAS) Program aims to estimate the number of marine birds that come into contact with oil at-sea and seeks ways to reduce the likelihood of interactions with oil. The problem is a tricky one because the source of oil on the ocean is very hard to track and, further, if a bird is oiled at sea it may never be found because of variable winds, currents, and eventual sinking of dead birds. BOAS works closely with Bird Studies Canada, who monitor many beaches for dead birds, and, with Transport Canada to gauge ocean traffic by aerial surveys and monitoring of the ocean surface using radar based on satellites. Dr. Pat O’Hara will outline the BOAS program with emphasis on our work on the British Columbian coast. We meet at 7:30 p.m. in Room 159 of the Fraser building. Everyone is welcome. Bring a friend and a coffee mug.
Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28
Who lived here millions of years ago? Fossils are our window to the past. Palaeontologists from the Victoria Palaeontology Society will share their personal fossil discoveries including many from this past year. Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission by donation.
Sunday, March 28
Satin Flowers and Birds at Juan de Fuca
For those of you who are not up to the strenuous walk up Mount Wells, this outing is another chance to see the satin flowers (Olsynium douglasii) as well as other early spring flowers without the effort. Plus it is an excellent place to check out the birds, so this trip will have some of each. Bring a snack and a drink if you wish. Meet at Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre (Westshore Parks and Recreation), 1767 Old Island Highway, at 10:00 am. We will start from the end of the parking lot nearest to town. No pets please. Contact Agnes or 250-721-0634 if you need more information. Field Trip Level 2.
Monday, March 29
Marine Night – Using Seabird Diets to Track How Climate Change is Affecting Arctic Ecosystems
University of Victoria Masters student, Jennifer Provencher, studied the effects of climate change on seabirds in the Eastern Canadian Arctic. Using historical and current data, she examined changes in the diet of Thick-billed Murres in the low, mid, and high Arctic. She collected samples in the summer and spent winters in the lab sorting and identifying fish bones, zooplankton, squid beaks, and some unnatural objects such as plastic and bird shot. By comparing her results with similar studies done in the 70’s and 80’s, she has tracked how their diets have changed through the years as the ice cover has moved. Meet at 7:30 p.m. in Room 159 of the Fraser Building. Everyone is welcome.