Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary
This sanctuary was established on April 10, 1931 and includes 144 hectares of sheltered bays and extensive intertidal mudflats in North Saanich and Sidney. It is contiguous with the internationally-recognized Sidney Channel Important Bird Area. The shoreline is a mix of rocky out-crops and beaches of sand, gravel and silt and the upland areas support remnants of the Coastal Douglas-Fir ecosystem, including the associated Garry oak and Arbutus. Portions of the sanctuary contain mud flats that are exposed at low tide and support a productive marine fauna and flora including clams, worms, seal lettuce and eelgrass.
Although the sanctuary is now surrounded by dense urban development and includes many marinas, the ecosystem still supports a rich diversity of seabirds, shorebirds and waterfowl during migration and through winter. More than forty species of marine birds are regularly seen here, as well as more than forty species of passerine (perching) birds in the uplands, many not found elsewhere in Canada. Pacific Great Blue Herons, a BC listed Species at Risk, are frequently seen here in large numbers feeding in the shallow mudflats.
The proliferation of marinas and long-term anchored boats within the sanctuary and the associated contamination has raised concerns over their impact on marine birds and their habitat. Ongoing development pressure, urban runoff, land clearing and tree removal on the lands adjacent to the sanctuary are also of concern.
[Reproduced with Permission from the Capital Regional District]