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The 10th Annual WildWings Nature & Arts Festival is in its early planning stages

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Press Release

March 29, 2019

THE SMWS is pleased to announce this year’s ‘Artist of the Somenos’ is Laurel Hibbert.
The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society is pleased to announce that Laurel Hibbert has been
chosen as the ‘Artist of the Somenos’ for 2019. This honour is bestowed on a local artist
annually to be used to promote our annual WildWings Nature & Arts Festival.
Laurel is a Cowichan Valley artist and a member of the Cowichan Artisans. In Laurel’s
words- “People have told me that they get a sense of joy looking at my work and that is
what I feel when I work. I like to have a story like quality in my images as if something
was just about to happen. I often cannot resist the compulsion to include a sense of
whimsy.”
WildWings coordinator Paul Fletcher reports that “Laurel’s work fits perfectly with the
changing styles that we have selected over the last 10 years of the Artist of the Somenos
series. .
The WildWings Festival, now in its 10th year, is a celebration of Cowichan Nature. The
festival includes art events, talks by experts, hikes into special areas, bird and plant
education and several Cowichan Tribes cultural events.
The Festival is supported by many organizations, business and partners. This year we
welcome Cowichan Tribes as our newest partner. The Artist of the Somenos art collection
is sponsored and owned by Lance & Liz Steward from Just Jakes restaurant. It can be
viewed in the WildWings Loft, upstairs at Just Jakes.
To learn more about WildWings and the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society please visit the
websites of each at:
www.wildwingsfestival.com
www.somenosmarsh.com
Below is Laurel Hibbert’s WildWings 2019 art work.
For more information, please contact Paul Fletcher, WildWings 2019 coordinator
paul@fletcherfoto.ca

About WildWings

March 2019

This year’s 10th annual festival kicks off on Wednesday, October 9th at Just Jakes Restaurant in Downtown Duncan with the launch party and WildWings Art Exhibition opening reception. The Festival continues to the end of the month with fun-filled educational events where you can experience and learn more about the nature of Somenos Marsh and other Cowichan Valley ecological gems. One of the key events of the WildWings Nature & Arts Festival is the annual WildWings Art Exhibition and Sale. The art exhibition, hosted by Just Jakes restaurant, home of the WildWings loft in beautiful downtown Duncan, features 35 – 40 community artists whose works reflect a love of nature. The exhibition’s opening reception launches the festival proper, while the art coming down from the walls signals the end of the festival.

Call for Exhibition Artists

March 2019

South Vancouver Island artists who are interested in participating, and who have not exhibited at WildWings before, are asked to submit a small portfolio of their work. Previous WildWings artists can confirm their space by email. There is a $25 entry fee and a 30% commission on art sales that goes towards the festival costs. This submission opportunity is limited by space and numbers, so it is a good idea to book early. For submission guidelines, or to confirm your submission, please contact the WildWings coordinator Paul Fletcher – paul@fletcherfoto.ca

Don’t Forget to Check Out the Art at Just Jake’s!

The artwork from the 2018 WildWings Art Show displayed at Just Jake’s is coming down this Sunday! If you haven’t already, come down and check out the amazing pieces created by local artists.

The artwork is also for sale and 30% of the proceeds go to the Somenos Marsh to help support future festivals.

Art Pick-up this Sunday

Hello artists!

Just a reminder that the art hanging at Just Jake’s is due to be picked up this Sunday (November 4th) between am 9:00am and 10:00am.

Check it Out on CowichanCulture.ca!

Cowichan Culture was kind enough to feature our artist callout on their website. Check it out if you’d like to know more about the WildWings Art Show coming up in October! And while you’re there, check out all the other great arts, culture, and heritage events going on in the Cowichan Valley. It’s by far the best place to find out what sort of interesting things are going on locally!

CowichanCulture.ca

Artist Callout on CowichanCulture.ca 

Submission Deadline is Coming Up!

The submission deadline for the WildWings Art Show is coming up fast! Submit your art via email by contacting either events@somenosmarsh.com or communications@somenosmarsh.com. Work is limited to one piece per artist and we hope to feature 40 artists for this year’s event!

WildWings Art Exhibition & Launch Party

The annual WildWings Nature & Arts Festival Launch Party Thursday, October 5 from 6:00pm to 10:00pm is the official kick off to a month of events, activities, hands-on experiences and outdoor learning adventures in the Cowichan Valley as well as the opening reception for the WildWings Art Exhibition, a collection of nature art for sale by Vancouver Island artists.

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 10.01.29 AMThe WildWings Art Exhibition is proud to feature local artists and their artwork celebrating the natural beauty of the Cowichan Valley. This year’s “Artist of the Somenos” is Stuart Pagaduan, a local Cowichan Valley artist whose art will be on display at the exhibition along with other local artists. Stuart’s art work joins the six previous ‘Artists of the Somenos’ whose work is on permanent display upstairs in Just Jakes WildWings Loft. The Art Exhibition opening reception will be a first option to buy opportunity for the original art pieces that will be on display all month long at Just Jakes Restaurant.

The WildWings Art Exhibition opening reception is also featured as a Savour Cowichan Marquee event as part of the Savour Cowichan Festival and is a great opportunity to indulge in an evening of gourmet bites, a tasting of WildWings ale, live music by the John Wade Jazz Trio, live art auction and 50/50 draw.

Tickets for the event are $29.99 each and can be purchased at Just Jakes Restaurant or online at wildwings-art-exhibition-launch.eventbrite.ca/

For more information about the WildWings Nature & Arts Festival, please visit www.wildwingsfestival.com or contact the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Bailey, at somenosmarsh@gmail.com or 250-884-0749

WildWings Nature & Arts Festival 2017

WildWings Nature & Arts Festival 2017

Nature and Children: Nurturing the Future

 

Each fall the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society, along with many community partners, hosts the WildWings Nature & Arts Festival, a series of nature-themed events held around the Cowichan Valley to celebrate Cowichan nature and the return of the trumpeter swans to their overwintering grounds in the Cowichan Valley.

This year’s festival features sixteen events from October 5th to November 4th. Activities run the gamut from birding and nature interpretation to local cultural experiences, as well as a nature themed art show. Some of the other offerings include a traditional Cowichan Pi’kwun (salmon BBQ), hands-on biodiversity workshop, a Paint Nite fundraiser and a guided hike to the Koksilah Ancient Trees and much more.

Artwork by Stuart Pagaduan
Artwork by Stuart Pagaduan

The 2017 festival theme is “Nature and Children: Nurturing the Future” and to encourage this theme we are hsting Celebrate Somenos, an open house at the Somenos Marsh Open Air Classroom October 7th from 10am to 2:00 pm for children and families to interact with nature. Celebrate Somenos is our most important public education and family-focused event of the festival as it is aimed at engaging and educating kids and their parents in the natural history of Somenos and its extended ecosystems. Also at this event, expect to have your mind expanded by the Raptors with live birds, demonstrations on nature photography, learning about invasive species and their management, on-sitenature and birding guides, and a build-your-own bird feeder station. There is also a ‘swamp stamp card’ for the young ones who can enter to win a prize if they visit three stations along the boardwalk.

The Festival launch and opening reception of the WildWings Art Exhibition, a Savour Cowichan Marquee Event, is on Thursday October 5 at 6pm at Just Jakes Restaurant. The ticket price includes gourmet bites, a sample of the Craig St. Brewpub’s annual WildWings beer, live jazz with the John Wade trio, a small live auction and the first chance to purchase fantastic local nature-themed art on display until November 4. The highlight of the evening will be the honouring of this year’s ‘Artist of the Somenos’, Stuart Pagaduan.

Partners of the festival include local businesses, NGOs, the arts community and many individuals. For full festival event and ticket details visit our website www.wildwingsfestival.com, find us on social media or contact Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society Program Manager, Elizabeth Bailey, at programs@somenosmarsh.com or 250-884-0749.

Looking Forward to WWN&AF 2017

As we wave goodbye to the last of the swans, heading north to breed, we are ramping up planning for WildWings Nature & Arts Festival 2017. Stay-tuned for festival info as we head into summer.

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Trumpeter Swans – Barry Hetschko

Thank you for making WWN&AF 2016 great!

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Happy new year to all! We’d like to start off 2017 by saying a big Thank You to all those who support the Somenos Marsh and Cowichan Valley nature. In particular we’d like to specially thank everyone (and there are a lot of you) who supported WildWings Nature & Arts Festival 2016. We hope to make this creative, educational and inspiring festival the premier nature festival in the Valley and beyond and with this community’s support we will get there. Planning for next October is underway; to volunteer or donate please contact somenosmarsh@gmail.com.



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North American Trumpeter Swan Conference is on its way ~ Register now!

The North American Trumpeter Swan Society’s 24th Annual Conference will be held in Duncan November 16th to 18th, 2016

 

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Trumpeter Swans – Barry Hetschko

“This is a very special event for the Cowichan Valley” says Paul Fletcher, President of Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society, who goes on to say “experts in swan research and management from throughout North America will be coming to our community. We are honoured to be able to partner with The Trumpeter Swan Society (TTSS) to bring this important event to the valley and to hold it in the Cowichan Tribe’s beautiful Quw’utsun’ Culture and Conference Centre.”

The trumpeter swan, the largest waterfowl in North America once flourished across much of North America. By 1900 they were nearly extinct. In recent decades, Trumpeters have begun a wonderful recovery due to the partnerships and passion of many people, organizations and agencies, with the expert technical support of the TTSS.

TTSS has been North America’s leader of Trumpeter Swan conservation since 1968. For nearly 50 years, TTSS has played a pivotal role in the resurgence of the trumpeter swan population by providing expert science based technical support in most of the major restoration programs. “TTSS’s vibrant “swan network” of researchers, swan managers, and biologists have gathered and shared the best science based information and research to help bring back the Trumpeter Swan in areas where they have not been seen in more than a century,” said Margaret Smith, Executive Director of The Trumpeter Swan Society.

The result of all these efforts is reflected in the continued recovery of the Trumpeter Swan population to an estimated 46,000 in 2010. “But the trumpeter swan population is not out of the woods yet” says Fletcher. “The swans face several threats including climate change, loss of habitat, new diseases, lead poisoning and loss of winter habitat which brings us to the Cowichan Valley,” Fletcher goes on to say. “The overwintering population of trumpeter swans in the Cowichan valley has been trending upwards over the years and has been as high as 1,000 in recent years which is why we chose Swans and Agriculture. Working together as the theme for this year’s conference.

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Trumpeter Swans – Barry Hetscko

This theme holds special significance as concerns expressed by local farmers over crop depredation has grown in lockstep with the overwintering swan population in the Cowichan Valley as swans are moving into farmers’ fields as the food supply is exhausted on their former marsh and wetland feeding grounds. A feature of this year’s conference will be a panel discussion on Wednesday evening on November 16th; the panel will include an impacted farmer, swan researchers and wildlife managers.

In addition, there will be an all day field trip on November 17, and a Gala Banquet on Friday, November 18, with keynote speaker Robert Bateman, one of Canada’s most renowned wildlife artists.

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Robert Bateman at Ford Lake – Brigit Freybe Bateman

The TTSS Annual Conference will be of interest to people from all walks of life from those who just marvel at the sheer magnificence of these birds to farmers, students researchers, grad students and educators. We encourage people to register early for this conference: to obtain more information about the conference follow this link. http://www.trumpeterswansociety.org/2016-conference.html Prices on the TTSS website are in American Dollars. To register through the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society in Canadian Dollars please follow this link and click on the individual events in the calendar: http://wildwingsfestival.com/?page_id=17

Click here for the draft progam for the conference: draft-swan-conference-program

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Paul Fletcher, 250 732-0462, paul@fletcherfoto.ca 

To register for WildWings events click here.

Cowichan Tribes History and a Western Bluebird Talk this Week

For all event info and registration click here.

 

Another full week of festival activities is upon us. Today WildWings event-goers were treated to a wild  plant walk with Medicine Woman Della Rice-Sylvester. A wonderful activity for a stunning fall day!

untitled-7024Wednesday morning we will meet at the Somenos Open Air Classroom for a guided walk with Tim Kulchyski, Land and Fisheries Biologist with Cowichan Tribes, to learn about pre-European contact history of the Somenos Marsh. The walk will last from 10am-11:30am and reports are that the weather will hold for us until tomorrow evening.  Some of the things you can expect to learn about are:

  • the Hul’qumi’num’ names of the birds, plants, shrubs and trees of the marsh
  • what plants and resources were traditionally harvested from the marsh
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the cultural and traditional significance of the marsh
  • Understand the impact of development on traditional lands and the importance of preserving ecosystems such as Somenos Marsh

Registration is $10 for adults, free for children and can be made by calling Elizabeth at 250-884-0749 or visiting: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/cowichan-tribes-history-of-somenos-marsh-tickets-27909689633

bluebirds-bhetschko-9407Thursday evening is the night to learn all about the Western Bluebird Reintroduction Project from the Cowichan Valley Naturalists who are taking over the project. Presenters Genevieve Singleton and Ryan Hetschko will be talking about the history of the project, analysis of the past five years, and looking ahead at the future of these endangered birds. This is a FREE EVENT and will be held at the Freshwater Ecocentre on Wharncliffe Rd in Duncan from 7-9pm. No registration required.

Art and Mountains and Marshes…Oh My!

The moment we’ve been waiting for is almost here…

WildWings Nature & Arts Festival 2016 kicks off this Thursday evening, Oct. 6th, with the Festival Launch and Art Show Opening. From 6pm to 10pm the public is welcome to come celebrate the natural side of Cowichan as depicted by over 30 Vancouver Island artists. Just Jakes Restaurant in downtown Duncan will be hosting the opening event and the art show until the end of the festival, Nov. 18th. 

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Sneak peek of 2016 WildWings Art Show at Just Jakes

The evening will include mood-setting live jazz music, delicious Jakes appies, the newly released WildWings beer and other libations. It will also feature the unveiling of the newly dubbed ‘WildWings Loft’ which will house the permanent WildWings collection, a group of Trumpeter Swan themed paintings commissioned by Lance and Liz of Jakes annually for festival. Each year an Artist of the Somenos is selected to create a feature art piece which is used on the promotional materials for the festival. 


On Saturday, October 8th, we have a special opportunity to get to know a local landmark and popular hiking and mountain biking destination on a new level. The Mt. Tzouhalem Awareness Hike will be led by Ken Elliott, a Cowichan man and native plant nursery owner, who will guide participants up the slopes and along meandering trails. This is a unique chance to soak up some of his wisdom on the Cowichan People’s connection to this special place and learn more about its flora and fauna. Bring water, sensible shoes and a sense of adventure!

Register for Mt. Tzouhalem Awareness Hike here or by phone: 250-884-0749.  $10 adults, kids free. 


On Sunday, October 9th, there is another great opportunity to ward off the turkey coma and get outside with your family on Thanksgiving weekend. Celebrate Somenos Open House Day takes place from 10am – 2pm at the Somenos Boardwalk and Open Air Classroom and 2pm – 3pm at Hecate Park in Cowichan Bay. The presenter list is as follows: 

Kai Rietzel, Executive Director of the Cowichan Land Trust: Kai will help you explore the underwater world of the marsh through aquatic invertebrates AKA water bugs AKA salmon food. Learn about the critters who call wetlands and streams home and what they can tell us about the health of these ecosystems.

Todd Carnahan, Manager of the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre: This roving naturalist with varied interests will be on hand throughout the day to answer all your niggling nature questions. Do you know the difference between a native Hawthorne and a non-native invasive one? If not, ask Todd! 

Derrick Marven, Coordinator of the winter Swan and Goose Count: Birding on the Boardwalk with Derrick is a classic part of WildWings Festival. This local birding legend once compiled a list of over 200 wild birds that have been spotted in the marsh. Bring your binos. (10am-12pm only)

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A previous visitor to the marsh

The Raptors Centre: A popular and exciting event that allows a close up glimpse of aerial predators of the marsh ecosystems. Past years we’ve had visits from owls and hawks…Who will show up this year? 

Maria CurtisWeaver of Raven’s Joy Basketry: A Celebrate regular now, the talented Maria will lead a weaving activity with kids using natural material that may be found in the Somenos Marsh.

Paul Fletcher, President of the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society: Got any burning questions about the fascinating history of the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area? Ask the guy who’s been part of the SMW Society since its inception 27 years ago! 

Cowichan Valley Naturalists: Learn how to spot, identify, and count waterbirds on a measured section of Cowichan Bay shoreline. Take part in Bird Studies Canada Coastal Waterbird Survey. Soak in the knowledge of longtime birders and naturalists. This activity is at Hecate Park in Cowichan Bay between 2pm and 3pm only. 

 Kids can pick up their SWAMP STAMP CARD at the welcome table. If they get 3 stamps from different presenters they can enter to win a nifty Native Plant Prize Pack! 

Dress for the weather. Entry by donation.


For other WildWings Nature & Arts Festival event and registration info visit our Upcoming Events Page.

Get Ready for 30 Nature Events over 6 Weeks

Festival Event Listing

October 6 WildWings Festival Launch and Art Show Opening Reception

October 8 Mount Tzouhalem Awareness Hike

October 9 Celebrate Somenos Open House at the Somenos Marsh Open Air Classroom

October 11 Walk in the Woods with a First Nations Medicine Women

October 12 Cowichan Tribes history of Somenos Marsh

October 12 Creating Pollinator Friendly Yards

October 13 Bring Back the Bluebirds Presentation

October 15 Birdhouse Rehabilitation Day in Somenos Marsh

October 15 Backyard Bird Feeding

October 16 Kids Little Big Birding Day

October 17 Cowichan’s best kept birding secret: Chemainus Estuary Walk

October 18 Traditional Pi’kwun (Salmon BBQ) with Jared Williams

October 19 A Walk in the Koksilah Ancient trees

October 19 Winged Migration – Movie Night

October 22 Salish Sea Whales and Wildlife Zodiac Tour

October 23 Cowichan Artisans Who Work with Nature Tour

October 27 Coho Salmon in the Somenos Basin: CWB Speaker Series

October 29 Sip and Spot: Wine Tasting and Bird Spotting Tour

October 30 Hands-on Raptor Experience

November 1 Bird Songs of the Boreal Forest: cradle for billions of songbirds

November 4 The Messenger: Film Screening

November 5 Birding the Bay with the Royal BC Museum

November 6 Basket Weaving with Plants from the Marsh

November 7 Trumpeter Swan Paint Nite

November 9 21st Century Birding

November 13 Coastal Waterbird Count

November 14 Cowichan Wild – Local Wine and Fare

November 16-18 Trumpeter Swan Conference

November 16 Public Forum & Panel Discussion: Waterfowl and Agriculture, Working Together

November 17 Field Trip: Waterfowl and Agriculture, Working Together

November 18 Closing Gala for WildWings Festival & Trumpeter Swan Society Swan Conference

Click here for: Event Calendar and Registration Info

2016 Event Registrations Now Open!

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Trumpeter swan photo by Barry Hetschko

Registrations for all WildWings Nature & Arts Festival events are now open. You can read all about the events by clicking on the ‘Upcoming Events’ page link above. There you will find a calendar of events. Click on each event to find out details and registration information. We look forward to celebrating Cowichan nature with you!

WildWings Launch only 3 Weeks Away!

poster-letterWith only 3 weeks to go we are getting very excited about this year’s WildWings Nature and Arts Festival. We are proud to be offering 30 events over 6 weeks this fall. Our events schedule is sure to have something for everyone with a variety arts, cultural and nature events. With a wonderful lineup of presenters and the beautiful backdrop of the Cowichan Valley we can not wait for WildWings to kickoff!

We are also excited to announce that registrations for the 24th Swan Conference are now open! Whether you are a swan expert, swan enthusiast, or nature lover, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn about the latest in swan research, conservation, management, and protection. Events run from Nov. 16 – Nov. 18. The Wednesday night panel can be attended by donation.

Click the link to register for the swan conference events of your choice: Register Here

Here’s a list of WildWings events to get you excited too! Registrations start September 21st.

schedule

8th annual WildWings Nature and Arts Festival

The 8th annual WildWings Nature and Arts Festival – October 6th to November 18th 2016

Late fall in the Cowichan Valley is a very special time because it marks the return of the Trumpeter Swans and other migratory waterfowl to their overwintering habitat in Somenos Marsh, the Cowichan Estuary and nearby natural areas. This time of year also signals the return of the annual WildWings Nature and Arts Festival.

This year’s festival is an extra special one for WildWings as The (North American) Trumpeter Swan Society (TTSS) is coming to the Cowichan Valley for its Annual General Meeting and Swan Conference. This year’s Swan Conference theme is Swans and Agriculture, Working Together. This event will bring 75 -100 visitors to our amazing valley and will coincide with the closing week of WildWings. Swan experts from all over the world will be presenting their research papers for the visitors and the local public.

While the WildWings Festival does highlight the Trumpeter Swans’ annual return to Somenos and the Cowichan Valley, it also celebrates nature, the arts and culture through public presentations and activities.

Confirmed festival activities include:

  • October 6, WildWings Nature & Arts Festival Launch and Art Show opening at Just Jakes restaurant
  • October 9, Celebrate Somenos Family Fun Day at the Open Air Classroom
  • November 16-18, Trumpeter Swan Conference
  • November 18, WildWings Festival and Swan Conference closing gala fundraiser event at the Quw’utsun’ Conference Centre. The keynote speaker will be Robert Bateman

Public presentations being planned include:

  • Birding at local wineries
  • Artisans who work with Nature tour
  • Basket weaving workshop using invasive species
  • Koksilah Big Trees hike
  • Picnic on Mt Tzouhalen with a local plant and history guide
  • Kids Little Big Birding Day contest and potluck
  • Salish Sea Whales and wildlife ocean tour with Ocean Ecoventures
  • Hands on experience at Pacific Raptors
  • Birdcall presentation by John Neville, a renowned bird song and call recording artist
  • An presentation the Western Bluebird project
  • Backyard bird feeder workshop with Derrick Marven
  • Birds, bees & butterfly friendly gardening with Ted Leischner
  • Medicine plant walk at Bright Angel Park
  • Cowichan nation cultural talk and salmon bbq with Jarod Williams
  • Cowichan Tribes, a lesson in history with Tim Kulchyski, grandson of Simon Charlie
  • And more…..

Stay tuned for more details. Booking starts September 21, 2016

 

WildWings began in 2009 as the Return of the Swans Festival, changed to the Cowichan Swans Festival in 2011 and finally morphed into WildWings in 2012.

The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society (SMWS) coordinates the informal WildWings partnership with volunteer help from the Cowichan Valley Arts Council, Cowichan Valley Naturalists, Cowichan Docents and the Cowichan Land Trust.

This year’s festival is funded by SMWS’s fundraising efforts over the past year. The Swan Conference is being funded by North Cowichan, CVRD and the BC Nature Foundation. Special thanks to Lance & Liz Steward who, through their business, Just Jakes, provide space for the festival launch and funds for the Artist of the Somenos artwork purchase.

For more information about the festival please contact the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Bailey, at somenosmarsh@gmail.com or 250-884-0749.

WildWings Facebook Art Auction – 2015

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As part of WildWings Festival 2015 the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society is holding a Facebook Art Auction. Two artworks, one by world renowned Robert Bateman, the other by popular local photographer Barry Hetschko are currently on the auction block. They are both on display upstairs at Just Jakes Restaurant in downtown Duncan. Both are beautifully framed by Excellent FrameWorks – EJ Hughes Gallery.

Bids on each start at $200. All the money raised from the auction of these two pieces will be used to help us build the new viewing tower at the Somenos Marsh Open Air Classroom. The tower will be tall enough to provide a 360 degree view of the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area and large enough to accommodate a class of school children. It is the final piece planned to complete the educational infrastructure at the Open Air Classroom.

We have $14,0bateman-bank-of-swans00 in the bank already. Please help us reach our final goal!!!!

Bidding is by email (info@somenosmarsh.com) or Facebook message. Bids will be posted and published on this page as each new bid comes in. The bidding ends November 15th when the WildWings art show comes down.

To participate in the auction please follow this link to visit the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Socitey’s Facebook Page.

Celebrate Somenos Family Fun Day – October 3rd, 2015

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Celebrate Somenos is a family friendly open-house style event held each year on the Somenos Marsh boardwalk and at other locations around the Valley. It is the perfect time to visit the marsh for the first time or the hundredth time because we stock it full of all local experts who are itching to share their knowledge about the special ecosystems that make this place precious. See below for events schedule and talk and tours descriptions. It looks like we’ll be in for a beautiful day so come out and join the fun!

*New this year – kids can be entered to win a pair of Bushnell binoculars and a bird book if they take part in three presentations and collect three unique stamps. Pick up your Swamp Stamp Card at the welcome table on Saturday.

 

CELEBRATE SOMENOS EVENTS SCHEDULE Somenos Boardwalk and Open Air Classroom Somenos Garry Oak Protected Area Cowichan Bay Estuary Nature Centre
10:00 am 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife photography with Barry Hetschko (10am-2pm) Cattail weaving activity with Maria Curtis (10am-2pm)  Somenos Marsh Conservation Area with Paul Fletcher (10am-2pm)
10:30 am Birds of prey with the Pacific Raptors Center (10:30am-11:30pm)  Western toads with Shari Willmott(10:30-12pm) Garry oak ecosystem tour with Tracy Fleming and Mena Williams (10:30am-12:00pm) 
11:00 am Salmon in the Somenos with Dave Preikshot (11am-1pm)
11:30 am
12:00 pm Birding in the bay with the Cowichan Valley Naturalists (12pm-2pm)
12:30 pm
1:00 pm Birding on the boardwalk with Derrick Marven (1pm-2pm) 
1:30 pm 
2:00 pm End of Celebrate Somenos

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Tour and Talk Descriptions

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

Cattail weaving activity with Maria CurtisMaria Curtis, longtime weaver, will be leading a kid’s activity in which participants can create a small mat or bracelet. Also learn about upcoming basket weaving workshops. 

Somenos Marsh Conservation Area with Paul Fletcher: Join Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society co-founder to learn about the last 25 years of exciting marsh history including recent changes in land ownership and the ongoing conservation zoning process.

Birds of Prey with the Pacific Raptors Center: 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.

Western toads with Shari Willmott (10:30-12pm): Join this local amphibian enthusiast to learn about local frogs, salamanders and toads!! Information about the exciting Cowichan Valley toad tracking project will also be available. 

Salmon in the Somenos with Dave Preikshot: This local fisheries biologist will fill you in on all the details of Somenos as critical salmon habitat. He will also speak to the citizen-science water quality monitoring project which is ongoing in Somenos.

Garry Oak Tour with Cowichan Tribes Elder Mena Williams and Plant Ecologist Tracy Fleming: Learn about one of Canada’s most endangered ecosystems right here in Cowichan. The guides will give you a walking tour of the Somenos Garry Oak Protected Area sure to intrigue and inspire 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. B.Y.O.Binoculars if possible.

Birding in the Bay: Join the Cowichan Valley Naturalists for Birding in the Bay from the viewing tower platform near the Cowichan Bay Estuary Nature Centre (also open to visitors). Spotting scope and binoculars will be available for birdwatchers.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Time to Party!! Festival Launch @ Craig St. Brewpub – Thursday Oct. 1st, 2015

WildWings Festival kick’s off this week! Don’t miss the chance to party conservation-style. The evening will feature live music from Cara McCandless and friends. You can also sample the newly released WildWings Ale, partial proceeds of which go towards conservation initiatives in the Somenos Marsh. Don’t miss the marsh trivia with great prizes. This event starts at 5pm and goes till about 10pm.

This year’s fundraising project is a viewing tower for the Open Air Classroom.

Thanks to event sponsors Craig St. Brewpub!

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Basket Weaving Workshop Details – October 18th 2015

In a fundraising partnership with the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society’s WildWings Festival Maria Curtis is again offering a daylong basket weaving workshop.

On Sunday, October 18th, 9:30 –4:00 pm in Duncan at the Green Community Meeting room.

Fun With Cat Tail Leaves

Using cat tail leaves for both spokes and weavers, we will begin making a double square base;

Then using twining techniques, and choice of materials, we will twine around the perimecat tail baskets (190x255)ter of the woven square to form a round shape basket. Additions of iris leaves, broom and other naturals  can be added to make the basket unique.

All materials and tools supplied, spaces are limited. Pre-registration is required. Cost $90

Contact: Maria Curtis 250-748-7468  mariacurtis@shaw.ca

 

WildWings is in the Air – 2015 Festival this October, November

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October is here again to soak the Cowichan in fall beauty. This time of year is special in the Valley because it marks the return of migratory waterfowl to their overwintering habitat in the Somenos Marsh and nearby natural areas. The Trumpeter Swan, the largest of North American waterfowl, was once brought to near extinction. WildWings Festival is a celebration of this beautiful bird’s annual return to Somenos, their resting place, from their northern breeding grounds.

This year’s festivities include a Launch Party at the Brew Pub on October 1st with live music, triva (with prizes) and the specially crafted WildWings I.P.A. On October 3rd the community is invited to the Somenos Marsh Boardwalk and Open Air Classroom for Celebrate Somenos Family Fun Day. There will be kid’s activities and talks and tours on birds, salmon, amphibians, photography and more! This event also includes a Somenos Garry oak ecosystem tour and birding in Cowichan Bay. This year’s WildWings Art Exhibition, put on in partnership with the Cowichan Valley Arts Council, will be held at Just Jake’s Restaurant and will feature local artists renditions of nature and wildlife. The opening night cocktail mixer (October 15th, 8-10pm) will act as the after-party for the Duncan Business Improvement Area Society’s Under the Umbrella Art Walk making for a fantastic night of culture in the heart of Duncan. Lastly, longtime weaver Maria Curtis will host a basket weaving workshop on the 18th where participants can learn to weave using local materials including invasive species harvested from the marsh (please pre-register).

For more information about this annual festival please contact the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Bailey, at somenosmarsh@gmail.com or 250-884-0749

Barry-swansPhoto by Barry Hetschko

Trumpeter Swans in the Somenos Marsh

WildWings 2014 in Review

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The Students of Alexander School perform with Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright and the Wilds at Voices of Nature. Photo: Paul Fletcher

Another year of festivities has come to an end as the Trumpeter Swans are settling in to their winter home in the Cowichan Valley and I think it is safe to say that this year’s WildWings Festival was a community success.

 Events this year included a Festival Launch party at the ever-hopping Craig St Brew Pub where folks got a harmonic earfull from talented local gal band Pixelle, mouthfulls of WildWings I.P.A and brains full of Somenos Marsh trivia. The evening featured the unveiling of this year’s Artist of the Somenos Glenn Spicer’s gorgeous Trumpeter Swan stained glass piece to be on display in Just Jakes from now on.

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Volunteer Meg Loop at Festival Launch, Photo: Elizabeth Bailey

This year’s WildWings Art Exhibition and Live Auction was held at Just Jake’s Restaurant and coincided with the Duncan Business Improvement Area Society’s Under the Red Umbrella art walk. Many beautiful nature-inspired pieces were on display and some amazing auction items went that night. It was a classy affair featuring grey-goose martinis and the musical stylings of local jazz trio Connor Stewart, John Wade and Eric Smith.DSC00174.jpg

Celebrate Somenos, the open house day at the marsh, was WET! It rained…a lot. However that didn’t stop the most faithful of marsh lovers from braving the rains and coming out to experience tours, talks and birding events at the Somenos Marsh boardwalk, Cowichan Bay viewing tower and Somenos Garry Oak Protected Area. Volunteers and visitors were kept warm with a steaming supply of endless hot chocolate.

Longtime weaver Maria Curtis hosted an Invasive Species Weaving Workshop at the Cowichan Green Community board room. Participants created beautiful baskets made of dried scotch broom and yellow flag iris, both exotic plants that are invading natural ecosystems in the marsh.

Enjoying a pint of WildWings I.P.A. Photo: Elizabeth Bailey

The crown jewel of this year’s festival was the grand finale concert at the Cowichan Theatre, Voices of Nature. It was the product of the hard work and dedication of the Artist Response Team (Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright and the Wilds band) and the students of Alexander School. The group took the stage and wowed the audience with their lively energy, inspiring ecology based songs, and pure talent. It was a community building evening as many of the school families belong to Cowichan Tribes and the concert was opened by honoured guest Chief Seymour. The school is also situated adjacent to the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area so the messages about protecting the marsh were especially poignant. There are hopes of making the event a regular part of WildWings Festival so keep your eyes and ears open for next year’s concert!

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A visitor from the Raptor’s Centre at Celebrate Somenos, Photo: Paul Fletcher

Many thanks go out to all the generous community members who made WildWings Festival 2014 a great success. Notably we’d like to thank: The Gosling Foundation, the Craig St. Brew Pub, Just Jake’s Restaurant, Glenn Spicer, Pixelle, the Garage Community Farm Store, Connor Stewart, John Wade, Eric Smith, Excellent Frameworks, Genevieve Singleton, Cowichan Bay Estuary Nature Centre, the Raptors, Barry Hetschko, Canada World Youth, Maria Curtis, Cowichan Green Community, Cowichan Tribes, Chief Seymour, Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright and the Wilds, Alexander School, Tire Stewardship BC, SMWS board members, volunteers, and members who are all generous supporters of WildWings Festival and the Somenos Marsh.

Voices of Nature Concert will Inspire and Entertain

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Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright and the Wilds are coming to the Cowichan Theater to perform a Voices of Nature concert as the grand finale for WildWings 2014. They will be accompanied by the students of Alexander Elementary school who will learn ecologically themed songs that coincide with a cross-curricular arts and science school program. Arntzen and Wright will spend time teaching the students through music with their artists in residence program, a great opportunity for all involved.

Concert goers will be dazzled by the energy, creativity and talent of the the performers and will leave the show feeling inspired and empowered about our role in taking care of the environment. There will be a strong First Nations component to the show as many Alexander School families are Cowichan Tribes members and one of the songs will be performed in Hul’qumi’num. Tzinquaw Native Dancers will also be featured and the event will be opened by honoured guest, Chief Seymour. 

All proceeds from the show will go towards the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society’s 25th anniversary project, a viewing tower in the marsh.

Help support the Alexander School Community Tire Round-up!

The Voices Of Nature School Music Program is supported by Tire Stewardship BC. TSBC is the organization responsible for making sure that all tires in British Columbia are properly recycled. If you have old tires, or find any lying around in the environment, you can take them to Kal Tire, 5295 Trans-Canada Hwy, in Duncan, on Saturday, November 15th, between 10am-3pm for recycling. Please be sure to say that you are dropping off tires for the Alexander School Tire Round-up. Alexander School will receive an honorarium for the tires that are rounded up.

Tickets are by donation (suggested $20) and are on sale now at the Cowichan Theater Ticket Centre or available at the door.

http://www.cowichantheatre.ca/tickets/

Great fun for the whole family. An event not to be missed!

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.

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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.

mariacurtis@shaw.ca

phone : 250-748-7468

http://ravensjoybasketry.wix.com/home

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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.

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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.

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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: http://www.downtownduncan.ca/under-the-red-umbrella

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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.

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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: facebook.com/PixelleRed or here: http://m.music.cbc.ca/artists/PixElle

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! 

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WildWings Festival 2014 is just around the corner

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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!

Birding on the Boardwalk

Almost 20 people met at the Somenos Marsh boardwalk at 10am today for the Birding on the Boardwalk guided bird tour, led by Dave Aldcroft.

It was a great day for learning about local and migratory bird species that visit Somenos Marsh.

Here are some pictures from the event.

Wildwings Festival 2013

Celebrating the return of the Trumpeter Swans!

Wildwings Poster Artwork
Artwork by Sharon Coppick

For more information contact our WildWings Festival Coordinator at:

somenosmarsh@gmail.com

250-884-0749

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