The herring boats may be back at the dock for another season, but that doesn't mean the herring are gone — or the brant geese that feed on their eggs.
Because of this, the Brant Festival is continuing for the month of April, with a strong lineup of events to highlight the bounty of nature.
First up is a free guided tour of the Marion Baker Fish Hatchery on Miller Road, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both April 5 and April 6.
For those with a taste for the wonders of the sky rather than the water, Saturday, April 6 will also feature an eagle release at the North Island Recovery Centre.
The event, which will allow visitors to witness glove-trained birds along with many wildlife and environmental booths, kicks off at 11 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m. Entry is by donation.
The music of birdsong may be very nice, but those with a taste for more syncopated rhythms can enjoy a musical performance by the Candando Chamber Singers on Saturday, April 13 at Knox United Church. The Spring Beauties concert kicks off at 2 p.m. The cost is $10 at the door.
The musical celebration of spring continues on Thursday, April 18 with Voices of Nature, a concert featuring Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.
The concert will also feature singers from both Bowser and Arrowview Elementary schools. Tickets for $12 each can be purchsed at both elementary schools as well as Mulberty Bush Bookstores in Parksville and Qualicum Beach.
WHAT"S WITH THE BRANT ANYWAY?
They may not have the majesty or ripping talons of a bald eagle, or the wingspan of a condor — or even the brilliant colours of a hummingbird, but the little black Brant geese have come to symbolize the beauty and fragility of nature — at least in the central Island.
The geese nest in the Arctic over the summer months and migrate to Mexico for the winter. On the way they make a pitstop on the east coast of Vancouver Island, their arrival timed to coincide with the annual herring spawn.
There's a good reason for that. In order to make the second leg of their journey, they need to store up as much energy as they can by gorging on herring roe.
Their arrival marks the true advent of spring, with all its remarkable coastal abundance of fish, fowl and marine mammals that flock to the area to feed on the annual bounty.
They may not look like much, but to many, they symbolize all of what people hold near and dear about this area. — Neil Horner