20th Annual Brant Festival – March 5 to April 28

Brant © Guy Monty
Brant (Image © Guy Monty)

The return of Brant geese to the estuaries and bays of Vancouver Island in late February and early March on their migration from California and Mexico is celebrated annually by the Brant Wildlife Festival in Parksville/Qualicum Beach. This year’s festival runs from March 5th to April 28th and features a wide range of activities and events.

Sunset in Parksville © Guy Monty
Herring spawn and sunset in Parksville, Vancouver Island, BC. (Image © Guy Monty)

The arrival of the Brant is timed to coincide with the arrival of spawning Pacific Herring. The Brant stop to rest and feed on the eelgrass, sea lettuce and herring roe at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, Parksville Bay, Columbia Beach and the Little Qualicum River estuary. They are joined by thousands of migrating seabirds, sea lions, seals, bald eagles and gulls providing a phenomenal opportunity for spectacular wildlife viewing.

Here’s a small sampling of some of the events taking place over the course of the festival. Many of the activities require pre-registration so be sure to visit the Brant Wildlife Festival web site to confirm dates and other details. For more information or to pre-register contact Robin Rivers at rrivers@naturetrust.bc.ca or call toll free 1-866-288-7878.

Brant in the Bay

Arrowsmith Naturalists will be on hand at the Parksville Community Park to answer your questions about the Brant geese and the herring spawn. Bring your binoculars and a camera.

Saturday, March 6, 2010
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Star Gazers Astronomy Night

See stars and constellations. Learn about the night skies in the northern hemisphere with David Prud’homme. Please bring a lawn chair and binoculars, and dress warmly. Pre-register, $5/person. Note: clear skies only.

Saturday, March 6, 2010
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Rathtrevor Provincial Park

Wild Shores Herring Tour

Learn about the amazing spawning cycle of herring with Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours as the briny blue waters of Georgia Strait explode in a spectacle of spring fever. Pre-register, $20/person.

Sunday, March 7, 2010
10 a.m. to noon

Robert Bateman’s Kids Get to Know Nature Camp

Children aged 6 to 12 are invited to Rathtrevor Provincial Park to get to know their wild neighbours in the great outdoors and learn to express their understanding of the natural world through games, art, photography, woodwork and journals. Pre-register $20 each session or $90 for 5 sessions

Spring Break, March 8-12, 2010
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (bring a lunch)
Rathtrevor Provincial Park

Wild Shores Salish Sea Tour

Discover the biological riches of the Salish Sea with Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours at one of our favourite places where lapping waves and sounds of nature all contribute to the ambiance of this special location. Pre-register, $20/person.

Sunday, March 14, 2010
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Wild Shores Secluded Shores Tour

Enhance your understanding of plants and animals that live in tide pools with Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours. Pre-register, $20/person.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010
4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Wild in Alberni: Somass Estuary Tour

Explore one of Vancouver Island’s natural gems with the Alberni Valley Enhancement Association. Enjoy great birding, beautiful views, discover evidence of historic tsunamis and First Nations sites that date artifacts back 4000 years. Pre-register, free.

Sunday, March 28, 2010
1:30 pm to 3:30 pm

Wild Shores Intertidal Tour 2

Explore tide pools with Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours to see wild creatures where ocean and land meet. Pre-register, $20/person.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010
noon to 2 p.m.

Learn to Bird

Join birder Guy Monty to learn about the pleasures of being able to locate and identify birds by sight and song. Whether on a morning walk or travelling there is something very special about being able to identify the birds you see and call them by name. Pre-register, $20/person for both sessions.

Thursday, April 1, 2010
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday, April 3, 2010
8:30 a.m. to noon

Buttertubs Marsh Nature Walk

Join naturalist Bill Merilees for a walk around this special wetland in Nanaimo. An author and world traveler, Bill is known for his curiosity and dedication to discovery. Pre-register, $5/person.

Saturday, April 3, 2010
10 a.m. to noon

Wild Shores and Tide Pools Tour

Have an exciting educational experience with Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours visiting the unique habitat where the ocean meets the land. Pre-register, $20/person.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Big Day Birding

This is a fun event that gives everyone a chance to test their abilities finding birds. Teams will find and record as many bird species as they can during the allotted time. There are tons of prizes and a good time is had by all at the post count gathering where lists are tallied, prizes awarded, stories told and dinner served.

If you don’t have a team but would like to participate, let us know and we will try to match you up with a group.

Birding takes place from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m.
3:30 to 5:30 p.m. is the post count gathering and opportunities to share stories of the day. Pre-register, $20/adult, $10/child.

Saturday, April 10, 2010
Counting 5 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Buds ‘n Blooms Plant Walk

Join Karen Barry to explore forest trail and wild meadows in search of spring’s first blooms. Learn about flowering phenology and native plants. Hosted by Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours. Pre-register, $20/person.

Sunday, April 11, 2010
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Brant in the Bay in Comox

Join birders from the Comox Valley Naturalists to celebrate Goose Spit Park and the migration of Pacific Black Brant. Learn about the Brant’s long journey and get a chance to observe the birds up close through spotting scopes set up along the beach.

Saturday, April 17, 2010
noon to 3 p.m.
Goose Spit Park, Comox


A special event celebrating local food, wine and beer benefiting the Brant Wildlife Festival.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 6 p.m.
Pacific Shores Resort & Spa.
Tickets are $75 per person. Call toll free 1-866-288-7878 to reserve tickets or e-mail tloewen@naturetrust.bc.ca