The Brant Wildlife Festival is gearing up for their 24th annual season boasting a wide array of nature-related activities in the Parksville Qualicum area March 1 to April 21.
The two-month long festival sees everything from music concerts and wildlife tours to kids workshops and spring break camps.
But with all this talk about the Brant Festival, one can’t help but wonder — why does the brant get an entire festival dedicated to it?
According to Sandra Gray, a long-time Brant Festival volunteer and avid bird watcher, the black brant and it’s connection to our coastline is somewhat of a rarity in itself.
“The black brant winters in Pacific coastal states, the Baja Californian peninsula and mainland Mexican estuaries yet breeds in the Arctic,” said Gray. “So they have an extremely long northward journey and do not stop in many locations, but one of their stops is here.”
Gray said our coastline provides an important nutrient source for the black brant, who feed off eel grass, sea lettuce and seaweed, and also takes advantage of our herring spawn, along with various other migratory birds.
The black brant is a type of sea goose who tends to show up in our neck of the woods in late-February, but Gray said they usually don’t appear in larger groups until March and peak numbers generally occur during the Brant Festival.
Gray said during the herring spawn upwards of 3,000 brant can be found close to the shoreline feeding on herring roe.
The Brant usually begin to leave the Parksville Qualicum area near the end of April and most are gone by mid-May, off to breed in the Arctic.
“The Brant Festival is a celebration of nature,” said Gray. “It’s about long term conservation of our shoreline.” The Brant Festival will host a variety of different events and activities starting March 1. Below is an informal guide to the first week of the festival. For more information on the Brant Festival visit their website at http://www.brantfestival.bc.ca.
Opening Night Celebration: Join the Nature Trust of B.C. as they kick off the 2014 Brant Wildlife Festival with musical performances by Faye Smith and Dave Marco, a nature photo display by Oceanside Photographers and a silent auction. Saturday, March 1, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. $25 per person (includes a burger and fries and a beverage) at the Quality Resort Bayside, Parksville. Tickets available at the Quality Resort Bayside.
Seeking a Balance Tour: Join Doug Herchmer and Tim Clermont to view the Ballenas-Winchelsea Archipelago by boat and the Nature Trust of B.C. property on Craig Creek by foot, followed by lunch. Saturday, March 1, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. $150 per person (includes lunch). Pre-register by calling toll free 1-866-288-7878 or e-mail email@example.com.
The Lion, The Bear, The Fox in Concert: They’re back! Exactly one year after their memorable performance in Parksville, Arbutus Events is happy to have them return. Saturday, March 1, cocktails and dinner menu available from 7 p.m., Show at 8 p.m. Tidal Room, Quality Resort Bayside, Parksville. Tickets: $20 advance, $25 at the door ($20 at the door for those with tickets to the Brant Wildlife Festival Opening Night Celebration). Tickets available at Lockhart Collection, Parksville, Quality Resort Bayside, Parksville and Arbutus Events.
Herring Spawn Boat Tours: Join Nature Trust of B.C. Director, Dr. Rob Butler as he leads you on a tur providing detailed information on herring, Brant geese and other natural phenomena. Sunday, March 2, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. or 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. (Both tours sold out).
Brant in the Bay: Arrowsmith Naturalists will provide spotting scopes for viewing birds and other wildlife. Sunday, March 2, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Parksville Community Park – it’s free.
Dine for Nature: Pacific Prime Restaurant located in The Beach Club Resort will be donating 15 per cent of food and beverage sales every Wednesday in March to the Brant Wildlife Festival – call 250-947-2109 to make a reservation.
Graham Beard, Fossils of Vancouver Island: Join Paleontologist, Graham Beard, as he discusses fossils found on Vancouver Island. Thursday, March 6, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m., gourmet snacks and treats will be available) VIU Deep Bay Marine Field Station – $10 per person. Tickets available at the door.