The Brant Wildlife Festival is a celebration of nature, specifically Black Brant geese and those like them, that congregate on the Parksville and Qualicum beaches of Vancouver Island to feast on the spring spawning of Pacific herring.
Every spring, as the waters warm, the herring work their way up the coast of North America – and they are not alone. Black Brant geese make their own, remarkable, migratory journey from California and Mexico to their breeding grounds in the north at this same time. Along the way, they rely on coastal estuaries, bays, spits, and beaches like those found along the shores of Vancouver Island to feed and rest.
Over 20,000 tired and thin Black Brant geese will arrive on Vancouver Island throughout the early spring this year to rest for a few days before making one last, non-stop flight to their northern breeding grounds. Spending their nights out on the water, the geese then fly in to feed on eelgrass, sea lettuce, and herring roe, following the tide as it drops.
It’s not just geese, either. Seagulls (of course) come by the thousands, along with large numbers of bald eagles and other birds, too. The waters, tinted blue with herring milt and roiling its white foam up on the sand, attract an endless menagerie of aquatic life as well, including seals, sea lions, dolphins, crabs, salmon and more.
How the herring survive this smorgasbord of their spawning to do it all again next year, I’ll never know – but they do.
So where do you fit in? Why a festival for a bunch of migratory geese?
Rapid population growth near the Parksville and Qualicum beaches is threatening this final, important feeding ground of the geese. The Brant Wildlife Festival is a nearly two month long celebration featuring a large number of events. Nature walks, wildlife viewing, celebrations, seminars, camping adventures for the kids, and family days. All designed around promoting awareness, understanding, and compassion for the beauty and fragility of this migratory cycle and the rest of the natural world, of which we are part.
The Brant Wildlife Festival promises fun and fascination for all who attend through the month of March and April. Come out and join us!
2014 Brant Wildlife Festival
Daily from March 1, 2014 to April 21, 2014
for a full list of events, please visit: brantfestival.bc.ca/events/