Author Archives: Elizabeth Bailey

WildWings Weaving with Invasive Species Workshop

Ever wonder what can be done with invasive species once they’ve been removed from native ecosystems? On November 2nd longtime basket weaver Maria Curtis will be giving us one brilliant idea for them!

In a small group environment, participants of the workshop will be guided in creating a unique basket using traditional weaving techniques with local natural materials including invasive bog iris leaves and broom that were gathered from Somenos Marsh. All levels of experience are welcome. Tools, materials and written instructions will be provided.  Maria Curtis has been involved in basket making for 18 years and has developed an eclectic knowledge of the art.


The workshop will run from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm and will be held at the Cowichan Green Community Board Room (generous supporters of WildWings Festival!)

The cost is  $75.00 per person. Please pre-register using the following contact information.

phone : 250-748-7468


Celebrate Somenos: A Day of Nature Talks and Walks in the Cowichan

On October 25th from 10 am to 3 pm several natural areas around the Cowichan Valley will be transformed into open air classrooms. Celebrate Somenos will be a day of talks, tours and workshops aimed at educating and inspiring all of us about the amazing nature we are so lucky to have right in our backyards!

owlThe schedule of events will include a raptors talk with a visit from a live bird of prey courtesy of The Raptors Centre on Herd Rd at the Somenos boardwalk. We will also be having the ever popular Birding on the Boardwalk event and this year we’ll be adding Birding in the Bay with the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre.


At the boardwalk you’ll be also able to observe invasive species weaver Maria Curtis in action as she creates beautiful baskets out of Scotch broom and yellow flag iris harvested from the Somenos Marsh. She’ll also be taking registrations for upcoming weaving workshops. Local Artist Lulu Marie will be on site working on her Somenos series paintings. There will be hot chocolate, kid’s activities and face painting for your young or young-at-heart members of the family.

You’ll also have the opportunity to learn more about the political history of the area from Marsh long-timer Paul Fletcher. Barry Hetschko, local wildlife photography, will be offering tips on how to take amazing wildlife shots with three mini-workshops happening throughout the day. There will be two Somenos Garry Oak Protected Area tours led by the Cowichan Valley Naturalists.

Please see below Celebrate Somenos events schedule to help plan your family nature adventure!

Tour Descriptions

Maria Curtis Weaving with Invasives: Maria Curtis, longtime weaver will be demonstrating the beautiful creations that can be made using invasive species harvested from the Somenos Marsh. Come visit her at the welcome table at the Open Air Classroom to see her in action and learn about upcoming workshops.

Wildlife Photography Workshop with Barry Hetschko: Learn about the principles and techniques and equipment you can use to get great nature shots from well known local nature photographer Barry Hetschko. B.Y.O.Camera and please dress for the weather.

Lulu Marie Open Air Painting of Somenos Series: Come see local artist Lulu Marie in action as she paints while soaking in inspiration for her upcoming series on Somenos. Lulu generously donates a portion of the proceeds of her works to local environmental charities.

Birds of Prey Talk featuring a marsh predator: Join the Pacific Raptor Centre crew for an exciting talk about marsh predators! They will be bringing a bird of prey with them so this is a great chance to get up close with one of these stunning birds and get all your birds of prey questions answered.

The Somenos Society Story with Paul Fletcher: Join Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society co-founder Paul Fletcher to learn about the last 25 years of exciting marsh history.

Garry Oak Tour with Genevieve Singleton: Well known local nature interpreter Genevieve Singleton will lead visitors on a walking tour of the Somenos Garry Oak Protected Area. Genevieve’s in-depth knowledge of this special rare ecosystems will intrigue guests of all ages.

Birding on the Boardwalk: Join long-time Cowichan Valley birder Derrick Marven for the popular Birding on the Boardwalk event. Derrick will be stationed on the Somenos boardwalk to talk birds with all who join him. Please dress for the weather and B.Y.O.Binoculars, there will be a spotting scope set up as well.

Birding in the Bay: Join Cowichan Bay Estuary Nature Centre volunteer naturalists from 10am to 1pm for coastal bird watching on the viewing tower in Hecate Park. Please BYOBinoculars, there will also be a spotting scope set up for those far-away feathered friends.

** Unfortunately our Cowichan Elder presenters Philomena and Peter will not be able to attend due to unforeseen circumstances. Huy ch q’u.

CELEBRATE SOMENOS EVENTS SCHEDULE Somenos Boardwalk Somenos Garry Oak Protected Area Cowichan Bay Estuary
10 am Wildlife Photography Workshop with Barry Hetschko (approx. 30 mins) Invasive Species Weaving Demonstration with Maria Curtis (Most of the day) Lulu Marie Open Air Painting of Somenos Series (2 hours) Birding in the Bay with Estuary Nature Centre (3 hours)
10:30 am Birds of Prey Talk featuring a marsh predator (approx. 30 mins)
11 am The Somenos Society Story with Paul Fletcher (approx. 30 mins) Garry Oak Tour with Genevieve Singleton (60-75mins)
12 pm The Somenos Society Story with Paul Fletcher (approx. 30 mins) Wildlife Photography Workshop with Barry Hetschko (approx. 30 mins)
1 pm   Birding on the boardwalk with Derrick Marven (2 hours) Garry Oak Tour with Genevieve Singleton (60-75mins)
2 pm Wildlife Photography Workshop with Barry Hetschko (approx. 30 mins) The Somenos Society Story with Paul Fletcher (approx. 30 mins)
3pm End of Celebrate Somenos for this year!

How to get there:

Somenos Boardwalk:  From Duncan head North on the TCH. About 1km past Beverly corners pull off to the right at the Somenos Boardwalk and Open Air Classroom. ***Please note that parking will be very limited so do your best to bike, walk or carpool

Somenos Garry Oak Protected Area: Head East on Trunk Rd from the TCH. Turn left on Lakes Rd. Turn left at Trillium Tce. Turn left on York. Rd and drive to the cul-de-sac at the end. This is the meeting spot for the Garry Oak Protected Area tour.


Cowichan Bay Estuary Nature Centre: From Duncan head south on the TCH. Turn left on Cowichan Bay Rd. Turn right and stay on Cowichan Bay Rd. Follow this into Cowichan Bay Village, the nature centre will be on the left.

WildWings Art Exhibition Opening October 16th; An Evening of Art and Conservation

 Thursday October redumbrella16th will be a wonderful evening for art and nature lovers alike. The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society is hosting the after-event for the Duncan Downtown Business Improvement Association’s annual Under the Red Umbrella art-walk. Participating businesses will stay open late and feature an artist of their choice. Find out more about this here:


After some evening shopping and art-viewing people can meander to Just Jakes Restaurant for the WildWings Art Exhibition Opening Night, running from 8-10pm. The evening will feature live music from jazz trio, Connor Stewart, John Wade and Eric Smith.

There will be a live auction starting at 9pm featuring several sought after pieces including a Robert Bateman print, a Coco Jones print and a Tom Anderson original Sculpture.

Please join us for this cocktail dress affair and enjoy hors d’oeuvres, featured swan cocktails, music and fine art all in the name of conservation.


WildWings Art Exhibition will be on display at Just Jakes Restaurant for one month.

WildWings Takes Flight this Thursday with the Festival Launch Party!

Join us as at the Craig St. Brewpub as WildWings Festival 2014 takes flight next Thursday night, October 9th.

We will be unveiling this year’s beautiful feature arbeert piece and introducing our newest ‘Artist of the Somenos’ Glenn Spicer.

Live music from gal trio, the Pixelles, will kick us off right, at 5:30pm. For a preview of the treat you have in store, check them out here: or here:

There will be free tasters of the newly released WildWings Beer created for the festival by the talented Craig St. brewmasters who’s creations we know and love! Don’t miss out on our collector’s edition 25th anniversary SMWS beer glasses…$10 (comes full of beer this night only!) not to mention the stylish new iteration of the WildWings t-shirt.

You will also get the chance to test your knowledge of the Somenos Marsh with trivia and great prizes!

All proceeds from this year’s WildWings Festival will go directly to building a viewing tower in the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area.

A night of beer and conservation….What could be better! 



WildWings Festival 2014 is just around the corner


WildWings Festival 2014 is just a few weeks away and preparations are busily being made.

This year’s festival will feature a launch party at the Craig St. Brew Pub with live music, marsh trivia and giveaways, the unveiling of this year’s feature art piece by Glenn Spicer and so much more! And don’t forget the delicious WildWings Beer created specially for us by the talented brew masters of the CSBP.

Our art show opening and live auction will be the after party for the Downtown Business Improvement Association’s Under the Red Umbrella event. It will feature live jazz, themed cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and the highest caliber of art. The evening will be the perfect excuse to  break out your party dress as it will be a cocktail affair.

Celebrate Somenos is open house day at the marsh featuring guided tours on the boardwalk and at the Garry Oak Protected Area, kids activities, artists, and hot chocolate! This year we are thrilled to add the Cowichan Bay Estuary to the schedule to highlight the ecological connection of the ecosystems.

The grand finale of the festival this year will be the Voices of Nature Concert at the Cowichan Theatre. It will feature the ecologically themed musical stylings of Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright and the Wilds joined by the Alexander School choir. It’s sure to be a lively and entertaining evening of music and nature. Tickets available at the Cowichan Theatre box office.

Please check this page often for event details as we will be updating them as soon as possible.

The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society looks forward to celebrating our beautiful local natural and cultural diversity with you this fall. Hope to see you there!