Bird watching is a favourite activity during the WildWings Festival at Somenos Marsh. (Citizen file)

WildWings Festival events get underway at Somenos Marsh on Oct. 6

The annual festival has lots and lots to offer this year

The 10th annual 2019 WildWings Nature & Arts Festival begins Oct. 6 with Celebrate Somenos from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Somenos Marsh open air classroom.

Presenters will be stationed at each boardwalk rest area, sharing information about wildlife photography, fish, raptors, weaving with natural materials and Cowichan Tribes history. There will be a kids passport to complete with a great prize for one participating child.

On Wednesday, Oct. 9, starting at 10 a.m., there’s the Great Blue Heron Rookery clean-up.

Participants are asked to meet at the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre at 1845 Cowichan Bay Rd. at 10 a.m. on the morning of the event but also to sign up at info@cowichanestuary.ca or 250-597-2288.

The actual rookery clean up takes place in the Wessex Ravine Park in Cowichan Bay and will be followed by a short talk about herons. Staff from the CVRD and the Nature Centre will greet you and provide an orientation for the event.

It’s all about working together to remove refuse and clean the ravine. Gloves and garbage pickers will be provided but be sure to wear sturdy closed-toe shoes and long pants and dress for the weather as this event will take place rain or shine. Parts of the work area are reasonably flat although stepping over roots and dips in ground will be required. There are some steep sections of the park as well but collecting garbage in these areas will be optional and based on time, conditions and ability of volunteers. Please bring drinking water, snacks/lunch.

This event is followed by the WildWings festival launch party and art show opening reception Wednesday, Oct. 9 at Just Jakes Restaurant.

Then, 21 additional art, cultural and nature events follow until it ends with the Nature of Cowichan Photography Competition People’s Choice awards and festival wrap up party Tuesday, Oct. 29 at the Old Firehouse Wine Bar.

Other events include exploring the Koksilah secret old growth forest, an evening walk with bats and owls, basket making with plant native materials, a fun paint night, two nights of fish talks (one with whisky) and learning about estate gifts for conservation.

Some events are hands-on, including a coastal waterbird count, and a biodiversity planting workshop on Somenos Creek where participants will plant trees to shade out the invasive parrotfeather plant.

One of the newest events is the very first ‘It Ain’t Easy Being Green Gala’ at the Birds Eye Cove Farm with a plated diner by Farm’s Gate, with Averill Creek wines and Craig Street’s WildWings beer on tap. The keynote speaker will be Patrick Morrow, a Canadian adventure photographer who is famous for his ascent of Mount Everest in 1982 as well as his being the first person in the world to climb the seven highest mountains of the seven continents.

This year Cowichan Tribes is a partner in WildWings. To celebrate this relationship, WildWings will be hosting a number of cultural events including medicinal plant walks, learning how to cook salmon the Salish way, a movie presentation of Harold Joe’s Dust n’ Bones, ethnobotany with Nancy Turner, and nature’s influence on Salish art.

The good news is that many events are free, by donation, or with reduced prices for families. To learn more about festival events, to book tickets or to reserve a place please visit www.wildwingsfestival.com

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Kids who come to the event at the Somenos Marsh outdoor classroom can enjoy crafts. (Citizen file)

Festival stalwart, Paul Fletcher, stamps a passport for a child at one of the outdoor classroom stops during the WildWings Festival. (Citizen file)

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