Field trip descriptions
On this page
Registration and a sign waiver required for all outings. If you haven't signed the waiver form, please take time now to read it on the website registration page:
Early morning birding sign up and offering carpooling for the field trips can be done upon arrival at the conference.
Did you want to know what a Gribble is and its role in shoreline ecology? Come to Neck Point Park and find out. This park in north Nanaimo has stunning views over the Salish Sea to the mountains beyond, as well as exciting nooks and crannies to explore among the rocky bluffs and beaches. The park is named for a gravel bar connecting the park to a rocky "head" of igneous rock out in the water. Sea lions, dolphins and sometimes orcas pass by here, and the birding is usually very good. We shall explore this beautiful park, walking along the main trail, which features several boardwalks and lookouts. Difficulty: easy to moderate.
For more information go to http://www.nanaimoinformation.com/neck-point.php.
From the ferry terminal at Departure Bay, Nanaimo to reach Neck Point Park, flow to the right as you leave the ferry and turn right at the first opportunity onto Brechin Road. After 1.0 km turn right onto Departure Bay Road. Proceed 2.0 km and turn right onto Hammond Bay Road. After 4.0 km turn right onto Morningside Road and follow it to the park.
From the ferry terminal at Duke Point to reach Neck Point Park follow Highway 19 north towards Parksville and Campbell River. Exit at Aulds Road going east. After two traffic lights it becomes Hammond Bay Road. Follow Hammond Bay Road for approximately 6 km. Turn left onto Morningside Road and follow it to the park.
From points north or south to reach Neck Point Park exit off the Nanaimo Parkway (Highway 19) at Aulds Road going east. After two traffic lights it becomes Hammond Bay Road. Follow Hammond Bay Road for approximately 6 km. Turn left onto Morningside Road and follow it to the park.
View Neck Point on a Map
Difficulty: easy/moderate - few stairs.
Leader: Roger Taylor
Just a few minutes drive from the conference hotel, the Englishman River estuary is a prime birding spot in the Parksville/Qualicum Beach area. It can be accessed from Shelly Road (west side) or from Plummer Road (east side).
From Shelly Road we shall walk to the estuary through a mature forest and along the river until we reach the estuary. Expect to see lots of ducks and other waterbirds as well as woodland birds. If there is time, the open grasslands to the west of the estuary will be checked for hawks, sparrows and other grassland birds.
From Plummer Road we shall start with some woodland and hedgerow birding and then walk along the river to the estuary where a large lagoon is a great spot for ducks and shorebirds. We shall continue on to an excellent viewing spot for sea birds out on the Salish Sea.
Excursions will be run to both sides of the estuary. We suggest that participants should try one side of the estuary one morning and then the other the next morning. Sign-up is not required. Difficulty: easy for both tours.
For more information go to http://www.mvihes.bc.ca/erwrp/caring-for-the-englishman-river-estuary
Leaders: local birders, TBA
Located on Baynes Sound, the Deep Bay station opened in 2011. Not only is the station a leading edge facility for research into shellfish aquaculture, its unique clam-shell design was developed to attain LEED Platinum accreditation to promote and showcase practical, sustainable applications of alternative technologies for energy and water usage. Our conducted tour of the site will allow us to hear about and see the programs and research currently underway, as well as to gain an appreciation of the innovative design of this remarkable facility and the ways in which its ecological footprint has been reduced. As part of the tour, a sample taste of the shellfish produced in Baynes Sound will be available, perhaps with an optional glass of wine.
After touring the Field Station, we will travel a short distance to the Deep Bay spit. The spit, which partially encloses the marina and is at the southern end of the Baynes Sound IBA, is a prime destination for viewing over-wintering ducks (25 species), grebes, cormorants, loons and shorebirds (19 species), as well as Black Brant Geese, to name but some of the species. In addition to the bird species, these waters are the site of an early spring herring spawn which also attracts large numbers of sea lions and seals. At any time of year, the spit offers rewarding birding.
Please note that the bus trip will depart at 12 noon, Friday. We recommend to plan to eat lunch on the bus during the 45 min ride. The express lunch at the hotel will be soup and sandwich and is intended for the the field trips starting at 12:30 pm.
For more information go to http://www.viu.ca/deepbay/.
Leader: Roger Simms
Join curator Graham Beard on a tour of his extensive world class collection of marine and animal fossils from the Mesozoic times found on Vancouver Island. Beard, a recognized expert in the field, has been collecting fossils for over 40 years and has assembled over 10,000 fossils in this exceptional display. The site is also home to the Qualicum Beach Historical Museum where local history is presented in a variety of engaging settings.
A few blocks away is the Heritage Forest of Qualicum Beach which protects 50 acres of Coastal Douglas-fir forest, including a significant stand of trees over 300 years old. You will enjoy the easy bark mulch trails, a beautiful ravine and a salmon-bearing stream. It is protected by a covenant to ensure that it remains as an ecological reserve.
For more information go to http://www.qbmuseum.net/
Leader: Sandy Gray
The Recovery Association hosts a World Class Wildlife rehabilitation centre specializing in Raptors and Black Bears. When visiting the Centre you will be able to view eagles, several species of owls, falcons, hawks, ravens as well as Black Bears. You will also watch eagles re-strengthening their flying skills in the largest flight cage in Canada. A video camera allows the visitor to watch the black bear cubs as they play and learn new skills out of sight of humans. Guided tours are offered. A presentation with a non-releasable owl is available, giving one an insight into the anatomy and hunting skills of these fascinating silent hunters.
For more information go to http://www.niwra.org/
Leader: Lynne Brookes
Moorecroft Regional Park, located in Nanoose Bay, is a jewel in the Regional District of Nanaimo’s (RDN) park system. This beautiful 34-hectare site includes close to 1 km of waterfront with spectacular views across the Salish Sea. There are approximately 32 hectares of natural forest featuring tree species such as Western Red Cedar, Douglas-fir, Arbutus, Big Leaf Maple, Red Alder and Garry Oak, with the old coniferous species ranging from 60 to 120 years old. There is also a wetland area and two intermittent creeks running through the park as well as a network of trails. Local naturalist and bird expert, Guy Monty, will take us on a very special tour of this fascinating property.
For more information go to http://www.rdn.bc.ca/cms.asp?wpID=2605
Leader: Guy Monty
Located at the northern end of both a 30-km IBA which stretches south to the Nanoose Bay area and the Parksville-Qualicum Wildlife Management Area, the Little Qualicum River Estuary is one of the three most important estuaries on the east coast of Vancouver Island. It consists of intertidal mud-flats, large eel grass beds and extensive sand bars. The estuary provides rearing and spawning habitat for Coho, Chum and Chinook salmon, as well as clam and mussel beds in the outer beach areas. Although the spit provides habitat for many duck species, it is most importantly a resting and feeding stop for the spring migration of Black Brant Geese. Neil Dawe, a retired CWS biologist whose research station was located at the estuary for many years, will lead a beach walk along the spit to the mouth of the estuary.
For more information go to http://www.rdn.bc.ca/cms.asp?wpID=2590
Difficulty: easy/moderate on beach stones.
Leader: Neil Dawe
Located just east of downtown Parksville, Rathtrevor Beach is arguably the most popular provincial park on Vancouver Island and a great place to camp. Featuring a large stand of mature Douglas-firs, well-groomed hiking trails, superb campsites and 2 km of sandy beach from which are spectacular views of the mainland mountains across the Salish Sea. Rathtrevor is a pleasure to visit at any season of the year. Maria Hamann will take us on a tour of this delightful park.
For more information go to http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/rathtrevor/
Leader: Maria Hamann
Situated along the pristine Englishman River west of Parksville, Englishman River Falls Provincial Park features two stunning waterfalls cascading along the descending riverbed into a deep canyon. This 97-hectare park contains several hiking trails through a lush old-growth and second-growth forest featuring Douglas-fir, cedar, hemlock and maple. Visitors can expect spectacular views along the way, particularly from two bridges that cross the river where it plunges down the narrow rock canyon toward quieter waters below. The lower falls end in a deep crystal-clear pool, a great place to view spawning salmon in the fall. The loop trail across the two bridges takes about an hour to walk and includes a fairly steep climb. Difficulty: moderate.
From the centre of Parksville take Highway 4A (Old Alberni Highway) 5 km west to Errington Road where there is a sign for the park. Turn left and drive 9 km to where the road ends at the park parking lot. After visiting Englishman River Falls you may wish to continue on to Cathedral Grove (Field Trip F8/S8).
For more information go to http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/englishman_rv/
Cathedral Grove, located in MacMillan Provincial Park, is one of the most accessible stands of giant Douglas-fir trees on Vancouver Island. Here visitors can stroll through a network of trails under the shadow of towering ancient Douglas-fir trees, majestic pillars untouched by the modern world – some more than 800 years old. Trails on either side of the highway lead visitors through the mighty stands of this coastal forest. On the south side you will find the largest Douglas-firs – one measuring more than 9 metres in circumference. On the northern side of the road you’ll find groves of ancient Western Red Cedar standing sentry over nearby Cameron Lake. Difficulty: easy
From the centre of Parksville take Highway 4A (Old Alberni Highway) 11 km west through Coombs until it meets Highway 4 at a traffic light. Turn left (west, toward Port Alberni) and proceed about another 15 km to Cathedral Grove just past Cameron Lake which is on your right.
On your return trip you may wish to stop in at Little Qualicum River Falls Provincial Park which is located and sign-posted just past Cameron Lake on the left hand side as you return. Impressive waterfalls cascade down a rocky gorge in a beautiful forested setting bordered by steep mountain peaks, one of the most beautiful parks on central Vancouver Island. Several walking trails are available in and around the park, offering picturesque views of the river and providing access to the upper and lower falls. Difficulty: moderate
For more information go to http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/macmillan/Top
Bob Ellis from the Nile Creek Enhancement Society will guide this tour. This is an amazing volunteer operated hatchery started in 1996 for restoring pink salmon to the creek. There have been over a 1000 trees planted at Nile Creek and associated creeks nearby. They have monitored eel grass beds and replanted kelp beds at the mouth of the creek. They have also strongly encouraged community involvement. Bob will give a tour of the new hatchery built in 2011 as well as the original hatchery. From there he will take the group to the holding ponds enlarged in 2008 and to the side channel.
For more information go to http://www.nilecreek.org/
Leader: Bob Ellis
Notch Hill at 240 m is the highest point on the Nanoose Peninsula. The hike up is moderate to strenuous and passes through beautiful Garry Oak meadows. The reward for the climb is a panoramic view of the Salish Sea north towards Texada Island and beyond, south and east towards the spectacular Coastal Mountain Range, Vancouver and Mt Baker on a clear day. To the west is Nanoose Bay, the Navy Station and the oyster farms with Mounts Arrowsmith and Moriarty looming high in the distance. For birders, Townsend’s Solitaire is a possibility at the top of Notch Hill.
For more information go to http://islandnature.ca/2011/08/notch-hill/
Buttertubs Marsh Conservation Area is a 22-hectare highly valued wetland for the quiet enjoyment of nature within Nanaimo’s urban setting. A balance between preservation and increasing visitor use still allows for a rich assortment of wildlife and human activities on the 2.2 km of easy trails. The two viewing platforms and the observation tower allow visitors great views of waterfowl and surrounding habitats. Renowned naturalist Bill Merilees will guide, entertain and inform you about the history and ongoing challenges to preserve the ecological integrity of Buttertubs.
For more information go to http://www.nanaimoinformation.com/buttertubs-marsh.php
Leader: Bill Merilees
Timing for the Sunday Buttertubs tour
Meet at the marsh at 10:00 am. Travel time from Parksville to Buttertubs is about 45 min. If you wish to join a convoy of cars meet in the lobby of the Quality Inn at 9:00 am. The tour will be about 2 hours to complete the 2.4 km loop trail. If you wish to catch a ferry to Horseshoe Bay, 12:50, 2:10, 3:10, or to Tsawwassen, 12:45. 3:15, 5:45, it is possible to make both the early afternoon sailings, OR we suggest a visit to scenic downtown Nanaimo (harbour, museum, several good restaurants) and a leisurely lunch, then catching one of the later afternoon sailings.