Returning to Ayum Creek: A Natural History

Celebrating 20 years of conservation this winter, it seems quite fitting that local land trust, Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT), whose emblem is encircled with a fern, went full circle this year by returning to Ayum Creek in Sooke. Protecting 14 acres of land around Ayum Creek in 1998 was one of the first major accomplishments HAT shared with the community thanks to the collaborative efforts of The Land Conservancy, the Society to Protect Ayum Creek, Capital Regional District, Mountain Equipment Co-op, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Today HAT carries on its role in collaborative conservation, working to restore habitat surrounding the salmon-bearing creek, estuary, and forest at Ayum as co-covenant holder for land along the creek.

This October, HAT is hosting a two-day riparian restoration initiative alongside the Greater Victoria Green Team and more than 33 volunteers. As anyone who has embarked on an invasive plant removal groupphotomission knows well, it is challenging work, but the results are gratifying. This is an opportunity for new comers and long-time visitors to enjoy the beautiful sights, smells and sounds of Ayum Creek and fight back the encroaching Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus), Daphne laureola, and English Holly (Ilex aquifolium) that threaten the natural area.

The second half will be held Oct 22nd from 10 am – 2, and participants are welcome to join (RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). These restoration events are supported by funders and partners Greater Victoria Green Team, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, TD Friends of Environment Foundation, Pacific Salmon Foundation, and Environment Canada’s EcoAction Program.

Ayum and its estuary are indeed a wonderful spot for birding with species like Purple Martins (Progne subis), Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), and Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) waiting in the wings. In later October to November, it is also a spot where you can witness the salmon run, with adult salmon displaying those vivid sunset hues while American Dippers (Cinclus mexicanus) wait to snap up an orange pearl of egg in their beaks. More than 80 different types of bird have been spotted in this ecological rich area. Ayum Creek also boasts over 107 native plants, including two rare species. For those that paddle, you can get another great perspective by launching from Cooper’s Cove and working your way there by water.

Many places in Sooke are touched by a history of logging activity, and Ayum Creek is no different. The site was historically a prosperous salmon run and Olympia Oyster (Ostrea lurida) habitat, but in the 20th century the landscape was significantly altered with the coming and going of a lumber mill, concreteplant, wood treatment plant, and more recently a bridge for car traffic, as well as heavy water withdrawal from wells. Low water levels have been a concern at the creek in recent years, and careful water use in the surrounding watershed can help alleviate this strain. From 1998-2001 stream restoration took place to introduce large woody debris and boulders to enhance the habitat for salmon. Reintroducing logs to the creek provides places for young salmon and trout to hide from predators, gives aquatic insects something to attach to, and stabilizes the banks.

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Tickets to HAT 20th Birthday Nature Fundraiser Sold Out!

Gala prints for blog

Wow! Thanks to the overwhelming support of community members, tickets to the Nov 8th 20th Birthday Nature Fundraiser are SOLD OUT

For those of you that couldn't make it, but would still like to be a part of the celebrations, this year we are hosting an online portion to the auction. There will even be some online exclusive auction items, so that those at the party don't have all the fun. 

Starting Oct 25th HAT's 20th Birthday Nature Fundraiser Online Auction Goes Live

Don't forget to put Oct 25th in your calendar, to take part in the celebrations and show your support for nature in our region. 

Visit hatbc2016.eflea.ca today for a sneak peak at what's up for bid.

For those of you that like to make meaningful gifts for the holiday season and beat the rush too, this is the perfect opportunity. Also a great chance to treat yourself, while making a positive impact for the wildlife and natural spaces you care for.

We are so pleased to be able to celebrate 20 years of conservation with you. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to kickstart the future of conservation locally. Please share our open invitation to take part in the online auction with anyone you know that might enjoy taking part.

When asked about what he saw as the driving force and a source of pride in HAT over the years former HAT Executive Director Adam Taylor shared,

"I am always impressed at the community we live in, the way it has come together. I felt nothing but support during my time with HAT, and am immensely proud of the community that has allowed HAT to be what we are."

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HAT's 20th Birthday Fundraiser!

Renowned Ecologist and Author Andy Mackinnon to Perform for Musical Fundraiser for Nature

Co-author of “Plants of Coastal British Columbia” or what’s known locally as the “Botany Bible” and famous for his work on the ecology of old-growth forests, Andy MacKinnon will take the stage as a musician for Habitat Acquisition Trust’s 20th Birthday Fundraiser for Nature at Glenrosa Farm Restaurant (5447 Rocky Point Road, Metchosin) on Tues, Nov 8th from 7 pm to 9 pm.

Live music by folk artist and Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) Executive Director, Jill Robinson and The Bald Eagles local rock band with Arborist Ron Carter will set the backdrop for an evening of good fun for a great cause.

The gala event is in celebration of Habitat Acquisition Trust’s 20 years of conservation in the South Vancouver Island and Gulf Island’s region. Raising funds for habitat conservation and environmental education locally, this event features a silent auction supported by local businesses with goodies and gift baskets that nature-lovers, health enthusiasts, and those with an eye for art are sure to adore. The silent auction will also start online Oct 25th to facilitate bids by those who cannot make it for the final bidding at the event on Nov 8th. Keep an eye out for gifts to beat the holiday rush with special items like an experience at Sapphire Day Spa, a hiking tour with HikeVictoria.com, and Gift Baskets by Purdy’s and The Good Planet generously donated for bidding.

Highlights include green cuisine canapés prepared by Nature’s Chef Tom Kral with local and foraged ingredients, as well as organic wine donated by DeVine Vineyards. Guests can also look forward to raffles, birthday cake, and the gorgeous backdrop of recently opened Glenrosa Farm Restaurant. All funds going to supporting wildlife and nature in the Capital Regional District.

Executive Director Jill Robinson says, “HAT’s annual fundraiser is always an event to remember. This green tie event will attract many of our area’s dedicated conservationists and caring community members. With HAT’s big 20th Birthday celebration, our goal is to raise $10,000 for nature”

All proceeds from this event support Habitat Acquisition Trust, your local land trust. Tickets start at $20 reserve by calling the HAT Office at 250-995-2428, visiting at 825 Broughton St, or online at hat20thbirthday.bpt.me Get your name on the guest list soon to avoid disappointment, as space is limited.

 

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HAT Hosts This Year's Wildlife Info Night - Sept 21st

Wildlife Info Night 2016 Poster

Maybe you've been out with us on a restoration day, counted bats, documented roadside amphibians, or have an owl or bat box from HAT. Maybe you're curious about these and other projects with Habitat Acquisition Trust. Whatever your connection and inspiration, we'd like to reconnect for an inspiring night showing the results of our wildlife efforts this year.

Details:

When: Weds, Sept 21st, 6:30 pm - 8 pm

Where: 1831 Fern Street

RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to let us know how many sweets to bake and seats to save!

This will be an ideal opportunity to bring a friend along, as the overview is perfect for someone that wants to see how they can get involved with HAT to make a difference locally.

The Line-up for the evening:

- Nature Story-telling by Faye Mogensen

- Dr. Kristiina Ovaska presenting on our work with Turtles and Slugs

- Alanah on amphibians (not literally on them, that would be cruel)

- HAT Volunteer Katie Bell and HAT Biologist Christian Engelstoft presenting about Bats

- Biologist Tania Tripp presenting on the Western Screech Owl program

- Wendy on restoration successes

- Barb featuring Wildlife on our covenant protected lands

 

You can also look forward to:

Looking forward to sharing this delightful evening with you, in appreciation of our partners in Citizen Science and habitat restoration, the incredible HAT volunteers.

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HAT for Bats - Fundraiser for the Bat Program

ChristinaCarriersTownsendsCreditWildARCBC Small

It can be tricky finding a safe place to live nowadays if you’re a bat. Habitat loss due to development and deforestation have reduced bats’ options for finding suitable homes. Three out of the ten bat bat species found on Vancouver Island are considered at risk. With the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada as Endangered and both Townsend’s Big-eared (Corynorhinus townsendii) and Keen’s Myotis (Myotis Keenii) Bats provincially blue-listed as species of special concern. 

Habitat Acquisition Trust’s (HAT) Bat Stewardship Program helps people on South Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands care for bats by providing bats with the habitat they need. Through the Bat Program HAT has collaborated with community members to install 90 bat boxes to provide safe bat habitat in our region.  species found on Vancouver Island are considered at risk. With the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada as Endangered and both Townsend’s Big-eared (Corynorhinus townsendii) and Keen’s Myotis (Myotis Keenii) Bats provincially blue-listed as species of special concern.

Every summer HAT administers the BC Community Bat Program’s Bat Count on South Vancouver Island. This year, 39 volunteers and HAT staff counted 5,951 bats at 16 colonies over the course of 4 summer evenings. The Bat Count strengthens knowledge on bat health and how populations fluctuate through citizen science.

“I sit at my picnic table with a cup of tea from where it’s effortless to count our colony of Little Brown Bats emerging from the box,” comments HAT bat box recipient and bat counter, Carmel Thomson

Christian Engelstoft installing bat box on house

A single bat can eat more than their own body weight in insects in a single night. That’s a lot of bugs! Farmers benefit from bat’s nightly feeding frenzy by a reduced need for pestisides. Bats also distribute nitrogen with their guano, which is an excellent fertilizer.

With the detection of White Nose Syndrome in nearby Washington State bats, and the death toll by this disease elsewhere in North America in the millions, ensuring that we have healthy bat populations are more crucial than ever. In spite of this, the HAT Bat Program did not receive this year’s anticipated funding.

The popularity of the Bat Program and local interest in bats exploded over the past year. Bats can’t afford to lose our momentum. With that in mind, HAT is reaching out to the community with a fundraising campaign to continue its important work with local bats. You can support the “HAT for Bats” fundraiser by sponsoring a bat colony for $345, which covers the cost of building, delivering and installing a box that can support hundreds of bats (Photo right: HAT Biologist Christian Engelstoft installs a bat box at Habitat Steward's home). Community members can also team up with HAT to fundraise by collecting donations from their friends and neighbours or hosting their own mini-fundraiser event.

Print off your fundraising pledge sheet today here.

“Our goal is to raise $3,000 for these incredible flying mammals by 2017. When the community comes together creatively, I know we can rise to the challenge,” - HAT Community and Development Coordinator, Alanah Nasadyk.

Donations can be made: online, in person at the HAT Office on 825 Broughton, by phone at 250-995-2428, or by mail to PO Box 8552 Victoria BC V8W 3S2.

HAT’s efforts have been funded primarily by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Environment Canada, and supported by the BC Conservation Foundation. With increased need for bat protection, we are requesting additional funds to provide necessary habitat protection for bats. These funds will allow HAT to install bat boxes, provide advice to residents with bats, and help coordinate efforts by Citizen Scientists like you to count and monitor our local bat populations.

HATForBats Fundraiser Poster 

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