Vancouver Island current hiking conditions and nature news to help you plan your eco vacation - What to see, when.
Canadian Wilderness and Nature Articles
Vancouver Island British Columbia Weather, Webcams, Travel Alerts
Natural History Perpetual Calendar
Average Daily High: 23.5 celsius, Low: 12.2 celsius
Hours of Sunshine: 287.4, Rain: 24.3 (some rain 7 days out of the month, often at the beginning)
Lowest tides of the year during the daytime make for fantastic viewing of tidepool marine life.
+ Singing fish gather under rocks at low tide and make grunting sounds like toads.
+ Garter Snakes give birth to live young.
+ Marsh wrens are nesting.
+ Red tailed hawks fledge the nest.
+ Sapsuckers, chickadees and nuthatches are feeding their young.
+ Robins and shore birds such as long billed Dowitchers begin migration during the last half of July.
+ Bald eagle leave the nest starting in mid to late July.
+ Seals are giving birth to pups.
+ Dall's Porpois are born.
A Year on Vancouver Island: Natural History
December 17, 2006.
Purple finches and pine siskins are now coming to my feeder.
December 9, 2006.
Eagles and bears are feasting on salmon in great numbers. Sea lions are also out feeding on lingering salmon and herring. Many sea birds are also feeding near shore now and the trumpeter swans have moved into local fields and waterways.
November 26, 2006.
The first major snow has hit the island at sea level making for great tracking and bird watching at the feeders. Fox sparrows, song sparrows, towhees, varied thrushes, chickadees, nuthatches, flickers and pileated woodpeckers are all out there enjoying the black oil sunflower seeds, suet and apples. The deer have come around more often too, nibbling on whatever green tidbits and dry leaves they can find.
November 19, 2006.
There is enough snow for Mount Washington ski hill to open and the snowshoeing is great already. Whiskey jacks, red squirrels and martin are few of the common species seen in the alpine at this time of year.
November 4, 2006.
Fall rains and winds have begun, allowing salmon to migrate up the swollen rivers.
October 15, 2006.
Fall colour is peaking now and the warm fall days are lingering on with no frost near sea level yet. There have been only a few rainy days and barely enough to wet the top few inches of soil. The rivers are still very low for salmon to navigate upstream.
October 12, 2006.
The Tofino mud flats have thousands of sea birds and herons gathering a meal but the shorebirds have not stopped in yet in great numbers.
October 7, 2006.
A northern pygmy owl was bathing in a bird bath today on Quadra Island. Pileated woodpeckers and flickers are eating huckleberries and apples in my yard.
October 3, 2006.
Bears are starting to return to the rivers, drawn by the chinook and pink salmon. Water levels are still low, inhibiting fish movement upstream in many rivers. Eagles are also returning from their two month holiday to other salmon spawning rivers.
September 27, 2006.
Today we did a boat tour north of Quadra Island and saw stellar sea lions, harbour porpoises, river otters, eagles, marbled murrelets, harlequin ducks, and lots of harbour seals. Fall colour is beginning in earnest at sea level now.
September 14, 2006.
Chinook salmon are just returning to the Little Qualicum River following a surge in water levels after a small rain. Its a great time to see them leaping upstream over obstacles. There's no sign of the pink salmon in local rivers yet.
September 10, 2006.
The berries are at their peak on the mountains now and the leaves are turning red in the alpine. There's still a considerable number of flowers blooming up there too.
August 19th, 2006.
The California sea lions have returned to the local waters and our marine life tour today saw at least 30 barking and basking in the sun using our 60X spotting scope.
August 15th, 2006.
The young eaglets have now flown from their nests and most of the local eagles move to the large salmon spawning rivers where the salmon return earlier than small local rivers. There are still lots of red huckleberries and salal berries in the woods. The huge juicy Himalayan blackberries are also abundant in sunny disturbed areas near the ocean.
August 12th, 2006.
Jewel Lake on Mount Arrowsmith is now ice free. Alpine flowers are in full bloom and the delicious black huckleberries and blueberries are ripe in lower elevations. Its not the same bumper crop as there was in 2005, but its still a treat.
July 30th, 2006.
The low tides of summer are an excellent time to see an assortment of bizzare marine life in tide pools on beaches and rocky headland. Purple, orange, red, pink and speckled sea stars, green anemones, crabs, snails, sea slugs, blenny's, shrimp and clams are just a few of the colourful creatures you may find.
July 22, 2006.
Jewel Lake on Mount Arrowsmith is still three quarters covered with ice and there is plenty of snow on the surrounding slopes. Great coolness on a hot day! The alpine flowers such as heather, lupines, paint brush, and columbine are in full bloom.
July 15, 2006.
Swimmer's itch is caused by a microscopic worm that normally infects snails - when it burrows into your skin it causes itchy red sores to erupt on your skin. Choose cold deep water with few weeds that support snails such as snow melt rivers and lakes. Rinse with clean water and dry off thoroughly and immediately so any worms die or are removed before they can burrow in.
July 10, 2006.
Tours into the dark, cool rainforests today revealed red backed salamanders which live their whole life in the damp forest floor in and under rotten wood. We also saw owl pellets, elk tracks and nesting winter wrens.
July 5th, 2006.
The fantastic low tides of summer reveal bizarre creatures in the eelgrass tidepools such as bay pipe fish which look like swimming sea weed, green shrimp, moon snails, sunstars, horse clams, burrowing green anemones, scallops and red rock crabs. The rocky tidepools have their own set of life including colourful starfish and sea anemones.
June 7th, 2006.
The salmon berries are ripe.
May 30, 2006.
Our three robins have left the nest!
May 28, 2006.
A pair of whimbrel, a Northern Mockingbird, a sandhill crane, a Bullock's Oriole and some Black Swifts were seen nearby.
May 20, 2006.
There are still some California Sea Lions barking and basking in the Nanoose area and there is plenty of activity at the Nanoose heronry.
A Great Horned owl in a nest with young and a barred owl carrying food were seen at Rathtrevor Provincial Park. A green heron, cedar waxwings, western tanager and Screech Owl were seen nearby.
30 Great Blue Herons are nesting near Deep Bay. 300 Dunlin and ten BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS were seen on Parksville Beaches.
Two LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS were spotted at the Englishman River Estuary in Parksville.
May 15, 2006.
The robins have hatched! The young juncoes have fledged their nest and are flying about pestering their parents for food.
A Northern Pygmy owl was seen near Parksville and there are still a few Brant Geese around the Parksville beaches.
May 7, 2006.
The black bears have been feeding fairly regularly on the lush growth in the Errington hay fields. The robin has laid her eggs in her nest under our eves.
April 30, 2006.
The eaglets have begun hatching. Check out this webcam on an eagle nest on Hornby Island, BC. A robin has begun building her nest under my eves.
A NORTHERN HARRIER was spotted at the Englishman River estuary.
April 13, 2006.
I saw a pair of nuthatches bringing grubs to their young in a nest cavity about forty feet up a skinny dead alder tree.
A MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD was seen in Nanaimo at Neck Point Park.
April 1, 2006.
Salmon berry and red flowering currant blooms have enticed the rufous humming birds from their southern retreat. I stuck my head out the window with my red ear protectors on and one came to inspect the rather ample looking floors - either that or she admired my sanding job.
April 7, 2006.
Most shrubs have now sprouted into leaf and the forest is aglow with that bright green light that heralds the vibrancy of life returning to the veins of the island. Skunk cabbage has burst into bloom with its slight malodorous scent. It's one of the few plant that can generate enough heat to melt its way through snow - not that there is any at this elevation!
April 3, 2006.
The eagles have begun laying eggs. Check out this webcam on an eagle nest on Hornby Island, BC.
March 25, 2006.
The first fawn lilies and trilliums have blossomed in Errington along the Englishman River. Flickers have begun their territorial drumming and exploration of nest sites. Saw-whet owls have started roaming further a field in search of mates and territories - some will be returning from a migration to the mainland. The Brant Geese are now here by the thousands - the sound of their wingbeats stirs the urge in me to fly and move on.
March 17, 2006.
The first trillium leaves have emerged and the flowers will follow shortly. Chickadees, nut hatches, flickers, woodpeckers and other cavity nesters have begun looking for hollow trees and bird houses to nest in. Make sure yours is cleaned out and filled with saw dust and wood shavings. The tree frogs have begun their lusty chorus of spring celebration. The rough skinned newts are also enjoying their aquatic ballet of amplexus. Just don't lick one of these bright orange bellied creatures or you may turn into a zombie or worse. They have enough toxin to kill about two dozen people.
March 6, 2006.
The herring spawn has begun! Sea birds, eagles, seals and sea lions have come to enjoy the feast. Fawn lilies are about to burst into bloom in coastal areas. Indian Plum is already blooming and green leaves from shrubs like elderberry are unfurling. Many birds such as purple finches, red winged black birds and juncoes have begun their spring courtship and territorial calls.
February 28th, 2006.
The first few Brant Geese have started arriving in Parkville, BC.
February 20th, 2006.
Massses of sea birds have arrived to feed on the herring gathering to spawn off the Parksville and Qualicum beaches. There's also plenty of action in rocky tidepools.
February 14th, 2006.
The first few Brant Geese have started arriving in Parkville, BC. A snowy owl, northern shrike, meadow larks and two short eared owls were seen in the Parkville area.
February 8th, 2006.
Pussy willows are blossoming and some green leaves are unfurling. Many days we experience shirt sleeve weather.
January 28th, 2006.
This is the month that bears are being born in their dens in hibernation. Many species of whales also give birth now. Mount Washington has more snow than any ski hill in the country. All of the trails are now open for downhill and cross-country skiing.
January 20th, 2006.
Strong winds have made for fantastic storm watching along the west coast of Vancouver Island in places like Tofino and Ucluelet. Surfing is a very popular winter sport in that area. Check out this Long Beach Surf Webcam near Tofino, BC.
January 14th, 2006.
Mount Washington's cross-country ski trails have now opened in Strathcona Provincial Park. Torrential rainfall has abated, giving way to calm summery weather. Trails near rivers, lakes and swamps are likely flooded or very muddy right now. Many pairs of marbled murrelets have been feeding in the waters off Nanoose. Two Leach's Storm Petrels were seen in the Nanaimo harbour.
January 7th, 2006.
A couple of huge snowstorms have dumped 245 cm of snow and created fantastic cross-country and down hill skiing conditions at Mount Washington Alpine Ski resort. The snowshoeing season is also underway!
December 30, 2005.
Cooler weather has returned enough snow to the mountains to ski. An orange crowned warbler was seen in the Parksville area.
December 24, 2005.
Unusually warm weather has hit bringing rain and warm southerly winds up to 16 degrees Celsius. The 50 cm base on Mount Washington has melted away.
Caterpillars and other insects think its spring time and are out and about.
December 18, 2005.
Unusually cold weather has hit bringing plenty of snow to the mountains for skiing, but causing the sea level temperature to plumet as low as -8 degrees Celsius.
A few snowy owls are hanging out at the Englishman River estuary - a crash in lemming populations in the arctic have forced these birds south in search of food. A Clark's Grebe was also seen at the estuary.
November 29, 2005.
The east coast of Vancouver Island has received its first snow of the season at sea level, but even so, a few Anna's hummingbirds have been seen in the area.
November 23, 2005.
The east coast of Vancouver Island has been blanketed in fog for a few days. A white throated sparrow and several wood ducks were seen recently.
November 6, 2005.
Chum salmon have been migrating into local rivers to spawn and the last stragglers will be seen in January.
A snow bunting, some western meadowlarks and a greater scaup were seen at the Little Qualicum River estuary while a Rufous hummingbird was seen in Nanaimo and a Cattle Egret was spotted near Duncan.
The first frost has reached sea level along the east coast of Vancouver Island near Qualicum Beach.
October 15, 2005.
Coho salmon have migrated into local rivers and will continue to do so until January. A short eared owl was spotted at the Englishman River estuary. Temperatures are ranging from 8 - 17 degrees celsius with a mix of sun and cloud and only an occasional day of rain.
October 3, 2005.
Snow has dusted the top of Mount Arrowsmith for the first time this season, marking an end to easy alpine hiking for the year. Fall colour is reaching its peak. Great spots to see the maples aglow are along many of the island river valleys, such as the Englishman River with its new regional park hiking trails or the provincial park. These are also good places go wildlife viewing for salmon, bears, eagles and if you're very lucky, cougars.
A couple of days of heavy fall rains have signalled Chinook Salmon (Springs, Tyee) to migrate upstream in island rivers by the thousands. At the Big Qualicum River hatchery, one can see these giant fish swimming by the underwater viewing area. You can stare right into the eyeball of a 50 pound fish the size of a streamlined garbage can.
Near sea level the temperatures dipped almost to freezing at night, but a low of 6 degrees celsius and a high of 13 degrees are more common.
September 17th, 2005.
Recent rains have allowed the pink salmon to migrate farther upstream to smaller spawning channels and creeks making for easier viewing and easier pickings for bears and eagles.
The Big Leaf Maples have mostly turned yellow. These cool, clear fall days are some of the best for alpine hiking among the berry feast and brilliant red leaves of the blueberries.
Other highlights of fall hikinghike include alpine and subalpine wildflowers—aster, harebells and pink monkey flower.
Commonly known as the largest and most accessible alpine area on Southern Vancouver Island, Mount Arrowsmith (1,819 m) is currently the focus of a park proposal encompassing the massif’s peaks and lakes.
September 1st, 2005.
Autumn has arrived and with the scattered showers, cool nights and the first falling leaves, the shorebirds and other waterfowl have stepped up their migration to places warmer. Parasitic and long-tailed jaegers, red throated loons, pacific golden plovers and red-necked phalaropes are some of the highlights to grace the beaches of Oceanside in recent days.
September is the month of blueberries, pink salmon and many migrations.
The blackberries are still producing fruit and the blueberries and huckleberries are ripe in the higher elevations.
The pink salmon have headed upstream to spawn and the eagles and bears are not far behind.
The approaching new moon on September 3rd will create reasonable low tides this week of 1.3 m making for some decent tidepool gazing.
Nanaimo BC weather forecast
Nanaimo Climate Normals
Parkville BC Weather Forecast
Camping Alerts, Osprey Park Operations
Vancouver Island BC Outdoor and Wildlife Webcams
Webcam on an eagle nest in Victoria, BC.
Mount Washington Snow Cam
Outdoor Webcams on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Long Beach Surf Webcam near Tofino, BC
Race Rocks Marine Park Webcam
Long Beach Surf Webcam near Tofino, BC
Webcam in Prime Orca Habitat including underwater cameras in Johnstone Strait, BC
Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the Coast Salish, Russel Barsh, Center for Coast Salish Studies.
Vancouver Island BC Marine Protected Areas Workshop for First Nations
Vancouver Island British Columbia BC Rainforest Tours
A Tour of the Vancouver Island BC Seasons with a Naturalist
Vancouver Island BC Alpine Hiking: Mount Arrowsmith and Strathcona Provincial Park
Vancouver Island Wildlife Viewing Including Black Bears and Grizzly Bears
A New Nature Tour Company enters the Vancouver Island BC Ecotourism Scene
Complete packages with Forest Song Cabin Accommodations and charter van services near Qualicum Beach are available.
Vancouver Island British Columbia Nature Tour Themes
Ecotours of Pacific Ocean Marine Life in tide pools and various shore types.
Vancouver Island Rainforest Tours
Vancouver Island Wildlife Viewing Tours
Vancouver Island Bird Watching Tours
BC Salmon Streams and Rivers, Nature Treks
Milner Gardens Heritage and Nature Tours
Custom Special Focus Nature Tours