NatureKids Victoria

Volunteer Leader: Stephanie Weinstein
Club Facebook Page
Presently seeking volunteer co-leader. Click here for more information.  

Welcome NatureKids of Victoria! We’ve got some fantastic Explorer Days planned for this year- hope to see you there!

Meet your volunteer leader: Hello! I’m Stephanie. I’m excited and honoured to be a leader of Victoria’s NatureKids Club. I have been a “young naturalist” for as long as I can remember (when I was 5 years old I wanted to marry a red rat snake). I have had wonderful opportunities working as a biologist in many parts of the world, including studying ethnobotany in the Brazilian Amazon, desert ecology in Arizona and Mexico, penguins in Peru, insects in Costa Rica, and alpine birds in the Rocky Mountains. I love sharing my interests in the natural world with children and have worked as a nature interpreter at parks and nature centres in Connecticut, upstate New York, and in Victoria. My kids, Travis and Rita, are NatureKids members and we love going on Explorer Days and learning about BC’s nature from passionate and knowledgeable naturalists. I look forward to meeting you outdoors!
Upcoming Explorer Days

Please RSVP if you plan to come. 

Overview of upcoming events, more details to come.
SATURDAY MARCH 4th, 2 PM 
No Ivy League. Remove invasive ivy from Garry Oak habitat at Uplands Park, Oak Bay with Margaret Lidkea.
SUNDAY APRIL 2nd, Time & location to be determined
A Bird bonanza with Rocky Point Bird Observatory
SATURDAY MAY 13, 1 PM
Bioblitz at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sights, with Aimee Pelletier. Learn about all the different kinds of pollinators in Garry Oak ecosystems and the plants that support them. There will be different discovery stations with experts on different types of pollinators (bees, butterflies, moths, birds, spiders etc.) plus craft and art stations. 
SUNDAY MAY 28, morning- time TBA
Low Tide Explorations at Harling Point, Oak Bay, with Tina Kelly from the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea and Victoria Natural History Society.
CAMPING JUNE 9-10, Pender Island. If anyone is interested in participating in the Island Quest Bioblitz on Pender Island with Parks Canada, we could have free camping- June 9-10th. If there is enough interest we could do this as NatureKids group (or you may be able to go on your own- I will get more info.).

Past Explorer Days

World Wetlands Day 
Sunday February 5th
1pm

Rithet’s Bog

Wetlands play critically important roles in flood control, maintaining water quality, as habitat for diverse animal and plant life, and much more. Wetlands have been severely impacted and lost around the world due to agricultural, industrial, and other human impacts. February 2nd is World Wetlands Day and we will celebrate it (on Feb 5th) by visiting the last remaining peat bog on the Saanich Peninsula: Rithet’s Bog.

Come join NatureKids for a scavenger hunt and a guided walk around Rithet’s Bog led by our Nature Mentor, Russ Pym, of the Rithet’s Bog Conservation Society. Come have fun and learn about the great work that is being done to protect and restore this important wetland.



“Owlsome” Owls!
Sunday January 15th
5-7 pm 


It sure feels like we’re deep in the grips of winter in Victoria, but the owls are starting to think about nesting. This is the best time of year to go out in the evening and have a chance to hear or see owls. On this Explorer Day we will learn about some of our native owls, what we can do to help owls, and go on an evening walk to call for owls with our nature mentor, Paige Erickson-McGee, the Stewardship Coordinator at Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT). In particular, we will learn about what HAT is doing- and what we can do- to help Western Screech Owls, which have declined in the Victoria region by over 90% in the past 10 years.

WHERE: Meet at NatureKids Member, Gage Hibbins’ house (parents, Michele and Chris) at 420 Goward Road, off Interurban and West Saanich Rd. Pull into the driveway and Michele will be there to direct you where to park. We will begin indoors with and then will look and listen for owls on the Hibbins’ property and nearby areas that we will drive to. 

COME PREPARED: Wear warm layers for being outdoors in the woods in the evening. Bring a headlamp or flashlight. Eat an early dinner or a hearty pre-dinner snack (It is hard to listen for owls above the din of crinkly granola bar wrappers!).



Sunday December 4th
Stinky Salmon Walk
10am – 11.30am

The salmon run at Goldstream Provincial Park is a sight to behold. Many of you may have had an opportunity to see thousands of Chum, Coho, and Chinook salmon making the epic journey up the Goldstream River to spawn. By early December, most of the salmon have completed the most important task of their lives– and so now it is the perfect time for a stinky salmon walk! Thousands of birds– including up to 276 bald eagles sighted in a single day!– and other wildlife come to feast upon the remains of the salmon.

Join naturalist and park interpreter extraordinaire, Keilih Gates, as she leads us on an educational and interactive walk from the bridge to the Goldstream Nature House. Keilih knows so much about salmon that I am convinced she may have been one in a past life 🙂



Saturday, November 5th

CAUTION! AMPHIBIAN X-ING!
6:30pm

The autumn rains have arrived and amphibians are on the move, heading from their summer breeding ponds to their wintering grounds. It can be a dangerous journey and our job is to be citizen scientists and amphibian protectors. We will participate in Frog Watch- an important initiative in BC to identify amphibian travel corridors.

We will survey a road to look for amphibians and identify them, dead or alive. The data we collect will be useful for conservation organizations and government agencies. By learning where amphibians cross the road we can take steps to help prevent mortality of these animals, which are sadly on the decline world-wide.

**NOTE** Because of the safety risks associated with amphibian road surveys (i.e., working along roads after dark), and the need to record data, the ideal NatureKids road survey volunteers are 8+ in age. As parents/guardians please use your own discretion to determine if this event is appropriate for your child and contact Stephanie if you have any questions or concerns.

WHAT TO BRING/WEAR: Warm layers under waterproof outerwear and appropriate, waterproof footwear. If you have headlamps, bring them (check the batteries!). If you have adult and/or kid-sized reflective vests- like the type used for cycling- bring these as well. We will have some but depending on our numbers it may be useful to have extras.

Nature Mentor: Biologist Elke Wind, who is coming all the way from Nanaimo to train us and do the survey with us! The focus of Elke’s work has been habitat management for amphibians in relation to forest harvesting, development projects, and transportation corridors. 


Sat. October 15th
All Buffleheads Day
10:30-noon
WHERE: Roberts Bay, Ardwell Beach access in Sidney. This is within the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

Come celebrate one of the world’s most punctual migrants and our smallest diving duck. The first Buffleheads always return to our bays for the winter on the 297th day of the solar calendar; October 14th! Huh?!? How?! Why?? Come and find out! We will look for Buffleheads, explore their winter seaside habitat and play some interactive games to learn about bird adaptations. 

Note that All Buffleheads Day is a Public Event from 10-11, with exhibits and activities hosted by local organizations. See the poster, attached. 

Our Explorer Day will include some time to participate in the public event but we have our own nature mentors and activities specifically for us NatureKids until noon. 

Nature Mentors: We are so fortunate to have two excellent biologists and environmental educators to lead us on our Explorer Day: Sue Staniforth of Friends of Shoal Harbour, and Kelly Nordin of WildBC. 


Hawk Watch!
Sat. Sept. 24th 
Meet at 12:30 p.m; BBQ at 3 p.m.

Meet near the VNHS tent at the far end of the parking lot at the Aylard Farm entrance of East Sooke Regional Park. 

It’s migration time! From mid September to late October, birds gather in East Sooke Regional Park riding the thermals and waiting for the perfect opportunity and good weather to cross 27 km of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Washington State and further south to California, Mexico and beyond. 

We have been warmly invited to join our adult nature club and nature mentors at the Victoria Natural History Society (VNHS) to learn about the phenomenon of the fall migration and to join them for a BBQ at 3 p.m.

1) Watch the raptor flight demos (held at 11 a.m., noon, and 1 pm)

2) Check out the interactive displays and learn about migrating birds from CRD Parks Interpreters and educators with the Victoria Natural History Society, 

3) Hike up to Beechey Head (~20 minutes, with a section that is rocky and steep) where there is an fabulous lookout from which you can see the migration. Naturalists with spotting scopes will be there.

4) Walk down to the beach to look for migrating shorebirds and explore the coastline
5) Join the VNHS for a free BBQ at 3 p.m. and meet some of the most knowledgeable naturalists in town!


Sunday, June 5th
World Environment Day
Witty’s Lagoon
Meet at 11 a.m. at the Nature House for a walk (~30 min) down to the main beach.
Please come join in on a hike, picnic lunch, low tide intertidal explorations, and play at the beach! Bring a picnic lunch. I will bring field guides, magnifiers, and containers to temporarily hold at critters we may discover. 
Everyone welcome, bring a friend, no RSVP’s required for this one.


Saturday May 7
10 a.m.
Explore the Gorge with World Fisheries Trust 
Gorge Waterway Nature House, Esquimalt Gorge Park, Tillicum Road

World Fisheries Trust (WFT) has created a wonderful outdoor learning program that incorporates place-based, hands-on experiences for youth of all ages!

WFT has created a 3D scale model of the Gorge watershed, which allows participants to learn about how human development and activity affects our water systems. By means of an interactive demonstration, they will explore the impacts caused by pollution, storm drain run-off, and pesticides use in our neighbourhoods. This session leads into a discussion about what each individual can do to reduce their impact on the environment, and to help improve stream and shoreline health.

The group will take a guided Nature Walk along Gorge Creek to learn about the history of how and why the creek was brought back to the daylight, and what impacts people have had on this fragile habitat. The guide will talk about the different kinds of native, introduced and invasive plants in the park, and the ongoing stream restoration projects that youth (and their families/friends) can get involved with.

Youth will also participate in a saltwater touch tank aquarium activity that provides a hands-on experience where they can learn about the local marine life through observation and exploration. This activity inspires discussion about environmental stewardship and links between First Nations cultures and their relationship with marine life.

Sunday, March 6th 
10:30 AM
Signs of Spring along Sherwood Creek, Devonian Regional Park
If you have never been to Devonian Regional Park you are in for a treat! We will meander along the 1 km (each way) forested trail following Sherwood Creek to Parry Bay while looking, listening, smelling, touching and perhaps even tasting the signs that spring is springing. The path is suitable for all ages and leads to a cobble beach with logs and rocks to climb and beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains on a clear day. If the weather cooperates you will want to stick around for a picnic lunch. Everyone welcome. Led by Stephanie Weinstein

Saturday, April 9th 
10:00 am-12:00pm 
A Visit to Haliburton Community Organic Farm
NOTE: Spaces are limited – first replied/first reserved basis; waitlist available.
Come join us for a visit to Haliburton Community Organic Farm! The Haliburton Biodiversity Project, a volunteer-based initiative that works towards bridging the gap between organic farming and ecosystem health, will take participants on a tour of wetland, meadow and forest habitat that is actively being restored on the Farm. A suite of native species including birds, frogs, salamanders and plants living on the Farm will be highlighted. We will also tour food production areas of the farm to see how native hedgerows and nesting structures for birds, bats, and bees, have benefited not only wildlife, but the farmers themselves. Please bring appropriate footwear (gumboots are preferred) and dress for the weather.
Note: Saanich Native Plants is also located on the farm; the plants that we purchased and planted at Uplands Park for our November Explorer Day were grown here. http://www.saanichnativeplants.com/


Saturday, Feb 13
6-7.30pm
Mill Hill Regional Park in Langford

Owls are amazing birds! Join Katie Turner, CRD Parks Naturalist, for this exciting adventure into the dark woods to look and listen for the “silent hunters of the night”.

Have an early dinner and join us at Mill Hill Regional Park in Langford. We will spend some time indoors learning about our local owls, their adaptations and calls, before we go on a short night walk where we will listen for and try to call in some owls.


Saturday, January 16, 2016
10 a.m. 
Coles Bay Regional Park, North Saanich
Winter Survival
Come learn about how our local animals survive the winter. We will look for animal signs and search for overwintering invertebrates. 

We will also learn some basic wilderness survival skills and we’ll build a shelter. Our nature mentors are Sean Rangel and Stephanie Weinstein

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