Bag the Flag Volunteer Event

Posted by Elizabeth on August 1, 2018

Thank you to all of the volunteers that came to the Bag the Flag Event! 

On July 26th, volunteers and SMWS staff went down to the Marsh and removed as many Yellow Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus) seed pods as they could.  This beautiful but invasive plant has taken over much of the Marsh's ecosystem, leaving little room for endemic and native plants to flourish.  Thank you to all that came to help in the management of this species!


If you want to learn more about Yellow Flag iris, check it out below!


Planting Fun on Earth Day

Posted by Elizabeth on April 27, 2018


A great group of volunteers helped plant native trees and shrubs in the riparian corridor of Somenos Creek on Earth Day. Photo: Mike Lynch

Swan and Goose Count - Dec 13, 2017

Posted by Elizabeth on December 14, 2017

Oh no cried the counters not another sunny Wednesday, it is becoming tedious, sunglasses, sunscreen, back-lit photos and headaches from squinting, some vehicles have had to go in to have their air -conditioning upgraded. Just like all hardy Swan and Goose counter we take all weathers in our stride.


Flying Trumpeter Swan by Zan Stenhouse

Swan and Goose Count Dec. 6, 2017

Posted by Elizabeth on December 7, 2017

Today was one of those wonderful birding days that we dream of, the sun shone brightly all day, the birds put on a great show and so did the beasts. Counting on a day like this was a joy, with the birds all being mostly easy to see.


Red-tailed Hawk by Barry Hetschko

Swan and Goose Count Nov. 29, 2017

Posted by Elizabeth on December 1, 2017

It was one of those days when you leave home and you think am i dressed properly, well for sure some of us weren't as the wind and cold went right down to the bones. It was nice when the 7 of us were riding around in the two vehicles with the heater on, but get out and wow!


Snow Geese by Zan Stenhouse

Swan and Goose Count, Nov. 22, 2017

Posted by Elizabeth on November 27, 2017

We were only 5 today as one of our party had a Owlie after spending to much time on the mainland. The weather was warm and we managed to dodge most of the wet stuff and at the end of the day the sun shone and we were all smiles.


Juvenile Bald Eagle by Derrick Marven

Swan and Goose Count - Nov. 15, 2017

Posted by Elizabeth on November 20, 2017

It was a day of two halves, first half sunny and warm, second half cold and wet. 7 counters headed out from the dog park after adding several good birds to our list, these included a Peregrine Falcon, Red-tailed Hawk and a Sharp-shinned Hawk, what a start, things could only get better, well no.


Northwestern Crow by Derrick Marven

Swan & Goose Count - Nov 8, 2017

Posted by Elizabeth on November 9, 2017

It was a dry day although a little chilly, 5 people turned up for the count and because one of them was coming down with some nasty bug we decided to put all the clean ones in one vehicle and me with bugsy.


Trumpeter Swans by Zan Stenhouse

Swan and Goose Count - Nov 1, 2017

Posted by Elizabeth on November 6, 2017

Here we go again, it is hard to believe that today was the start of our ninth year doing this count and the fifth year of counting Hawks and Eagles.

Peregrine Falcon Photo: Kurlene Wenberg

Marsh Warblings -March 29th

Posted by Elizabeth on April 3, 2017


Yellow-rumped Warbler by Barry Hetschko

" The Blues Sisters"

Marsh Warblings -March 15th

Posted by Elizabeth on March 16, 2017


Hooded Merganser by Barry Hetschko

Not sure what channel senior Derrick was watching but he said snow was in the forecast………...


Marsh Warblings - March 8th

Posted by Elizabeth on March 10, 2017

BHetschko-8407.jpgMt. Prevost by Barry Hetschko

Today was world woman's day and we were joined by 4 lovely ladies for our count and to keep with equality there were also 4 men. This week we managed to just keep in front of the winter weather, you could see the snow coming down around the hills, but for us it kept it's distance. It was not until our last stop did some light rain would catch up with us.

Marsh Warblings - March 1st

Posted by Elizabeth on March 8, 2017


Three happy campers by Cristina Cutbill

It was one of those days when the weather was not sure what it wanted to do, so we got a bit of everything except that white stuff, but there were many little piles left on our trip around today. It sure did feel more like spring as 8 counters headed out from the dog park. It was nice to have our good friend Kurlene back with us this week. Because of the trouble last week we segregated the North Americans from the Brits in two cars, it must have affected the solitary male in the Canuck vehicle as he failed to take a picture with his big lens.


Marsh Warblings- February 22nd

Posted by Elizabeth on February 23, 2017


Photo credit: Barry Hetschko

"Plastic Pecker"

7 counters turned up at the dog park this morning and we were greeted with a Peregrine Falcon and a adult Bald Eagle, it was then that i knew we were into a good days birding.

Marsh Warblings - February 15th

Posted by Elizabeth on February 16, 2017


Bald Eagle Photo by Barry Hetschko

It is hard to comprehend what we as counters had to put up with today, first of all our numbers of participants was down to just 6 and at one point i wondered if we would be greater than the number of swans seen. At times on the west side of town it was hard to even see the field let alone anything in it. the rain and heat combined with the snow made the mist so bad it reminded me of the pea soupers that I had encountered as kids back in England.

Marsh Warblings - February 1st

Posted by Elizabeth on February 2, 2017


Irish Courage (Derrick Marven) by Zan Stenhouse

"Irish Courage"

I arrived at the dog park to find that already two counters were out taking pictures up on the dike, i was proud of their early arrival and enthusiasm on this day.

Marsh Warblings - January 25th

Posted by Elizabeth on January 27, 2017


Merlin by Barry Hetschko

"Another one bites the dust"

Marsh Warblings - January 18th

Posted by Elizabeth on January 24, 2017


Red-breasted Sapsucker by Zan Stenshouse 

"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"


Vancouver Island Beggarticks (Bidens amplissima)

Credit: Wayne Weber

The New Year also brings new projects! The Somenos Ecosystem Stewardship Project, which will span 3 years, began in 2016 and is currently in its restoration planning phase with execution beginning in the spring.

Marsh Warblings - January 11th

Posted by Elizabeth on January 16, 2017


Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Barry Hetschko

"i was pleased to know that the poor old chucky was raised without hormones as that's the last thing my wife wants excited in my body at the moment" - Derrick Marven

Christmas Bird Count Editorial and other Disconcerting News

Posted by Elizabeth on January 9, 2017


Our numbers were down a bit this year overall with many species including humans seeing lower than average numbers. This was more than likely due to the weather that we have endured over the past month. Many of the smaller birds from Chickadees through Sparrows were down. The biggest and most disconcerting was the lowest count ever recorded in our history for Great Blue Herons with just 17 individuals recorded. After what appeared to be a good breeding season where did they all go?

Thanks for supporting WildWings 2016

Posted by Elizabeth on January 4, 2017


Happy new year to all! We'd like to start off 2017 by saying a big Thank You to all those who support the Somenos Marsh and Cowichan Valley nature. In particular we'd like to specially thank everyone (and there are a lot of you) who supported WildWings Nature & Arts Festival 2016. We hope to make this creative, educational and inspiring festival the premier nature festival in the Valley and beyond and with this community's support we will get there. Planning for next October is underway; to volunteer or donate please contact

President’s Report: June 2015 to June 2016

Posted by Drew on May 11, 2016

Download President's Report


Free Map our Marshes Workshop comes to Cowichan

Posted by Elizabeth on May 10, 2016



The SMWS is partnering with BC Wildlife Federation Wetlands Education Program to bring this free workshop to our community. It will lend GPS wetland mapping skills to participants as well as some invasive plant id and strategies for management. 

WildWings Facebook Art Auction

Posted by Elizabeth on October 21, 2015


As part of WildWings Festival 2015 the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society is holding a Facebook Art Auction. Two artworks, one by world renowned Robert Bateman, the other by popular local photographer Barry Hetschko are currently on the auction block. They are both on display upstairs at Just Jakes Restaurant in downtown Duncan. Both are beautifully framed by Excellent FrameWorks - EJ Hughes Gallery. 


WildWings 2015 is in the Air

Posted by Elizabeth on September 28, 2015


                                                          Trumpeter Swans - Barry Hetschko

Fall has returned and soon the Trumpeter Swans will follow, arriving back in the Cowichan Valley to feed and rest all winter. These once endangered North American waterfowl have been in Alaska breeding all summer. We mark this special migratory event with WildWings Festival, a celebration of nature, community and culture. The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society (SMWS) has partnered with several groups and individuals to make this year’s festival possible.

Somenos Staff Hits Halifax

Posted by Elizabeth on May 20, 2015


Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society Program Coordinator Presents at the Atlantic Watershed Stewardship Showcase 2015 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Elizabeth Bailey, Program Coordinator for the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society, had the opportunity to attend a workshop hosted by our water quality monitoring project partners CURA H20 this May in Halifax, Nova Scotia. CURA H20 (a Community-University Research Alliance based out of Saint Mary's University) hosted the two day workshop as an opportunity for their partners to network and be updated on the CURA's progress.


SMWS Restores Wetland

Posted by Elizabeth on March 20, 2015


Along with a team of experts, the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society has restored a wetland pond in the Somenos Marsh to treat storm water and create wildlife habitat. It has been a long journey to get to this point but this pilot project has been a long-time goal for SMWS. 

Somenos Volunteers Monitor Water Quality

Posted by Elizabeth on February 4, 2015


It has long been known that Somenos Lake and its tributaries, Richards, Bings and Averill Creeks are important habitat for Coho Salmon. It is thought that juveniles spend the winters foraging and growing in the lake and move up into the tributaries during the hot summer months when lake temperatures rise and water oxygen levels plummet.

Canada World Youth Volunteers for Somenos

Posted by Elizabeth on December 23, 2014


Canada World Youth descended upon Cowichan this fall with a flurry of activity aimed at helping local non-profit organizations focussed in the areas of health and environment. The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society was lucky enough to have two fantastic volunteers from the Canada-Indonesia program helping with our conservation initiatives. 

WildWings Festival in Review

Posted by Elizabeth on November 28, 2014


Another year of festivities has come to end as the Trumpeter Swans are settling in to their winter home in the Cowichan Valley and I think it is safe to say that this year's WildWings Festival was a community success.

WildWings Festival, 2014

Posted by Elizabeth on October 20, 2014

wildwings-icon.pngCommunity is Invited to Flock to WildWings Festival

WildWings is a local annual nature festival organized by community stewardship groups to increase awareness about our local ecology. Its October-November timing coincides with the return of the migrating Trumpeter Swans to their internationally significant wintering grounds in the Cowichan Valley. “The aim of the festival is to get people out to these events that celebrate nature and enhance our local economy”, says Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society (SMWS) Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Bailey.