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Lions Bay Beach Clean-Up Saturday

Danielle Wills Brings Her Love of Birding to the Beach

Pelagic Cormorant photo by Danielle Wills

For the second year in a row, Lions Bay Beach Park will be the site of a clean-up event organized by the local birding community. Residents are invited to join local Lions Bay Bird Friendly team member Danielle Wills when she and her crew kick things off at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 15.

After a brief discussion, the cleanup crew will head north, collecting trash along the beach, with games and fun facts for participating children along the way.

"For children, the beach cleanup presents an ideal setting for exploration and discovery," says Wills. She hopes that playing beach bingo and participating in a treasure hunt will ignite their curiosity as they help clean up the beach.

Wills grew up in South Africa, and says the natural world captured her imagination as a child. "My father was an avid birder who encouraged my siblings and I to engage in activities that fostered environmental stewardship. One of these activities was a beach cleanup along the wild coastlines of Kwa-Zulu-Natal. All those years ago I had the opportunity to witness firsthand the impact of human actions on delicate coastal ecosystems. These experiences nurtured my appreciation for nature and inspired me to take action to protect it."

Wills says her passion for birds has really flourished since moving to Lions Bay. "I love the pelagic cormorants that live along our local shoreline. They can dive to extraordinary depths to catch fish, and the breeding adults become beautifully glossy."

She notes that as the village lies in the forest along the Pacific Flyway migratory route, it is an ideal location for bird watching. "In addition to this multitude of passers-by," she says, "we have many amazing all-season residents, such as our village favourite Anna’s Hummingbird. Just north of us is one of the most active spots in the world for bald eagles. It really is a birder’s paradise."

For the adults participating in the event, Wills plans to demonstrate the use of Seek, a nature identification app, and Merlin which is focused more specifically on birds.

Before the pandemic, periodic beach clean-ups had been organized in the village by resident volunteers. This is Bird-Friendly Lions Bay's second beach clean-up, and they hope to make it an annual tradition. "Last year we took on the clean-up as part of the Bird Friendly City commitment to educate people on marine and other plastic pollution, and also to inspire tangible action at the municipal and community levels," says Wills. "We were fortunate to collaborate with the Átl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound Marine Stewardship Initiative. This year, we’ve received generous support from the West Vancouver Foundation through a Neighborhood Small Grant."

Wills says beaches and mud flats are important habitats for birds, especially migrating birds, as they provide a sanctuary to rest, replenish, and nest. "They contain an abundance of macroinvertebrates and biofilm. We can protect seabirds by giving them space, not littering, and controlling pets when we get close to their habitats."

For the Saturday event, Wills asks participants to come equipped with gloves and buckets and to wear good shoes for walking along the rocky shoreline. For those who prefer to stay at the park, there will be binoculars on hand for a closer look at any local sea life that happens by.

She sees this as an opportunity for participants to take a peek into the world of local shorebirds, learning about their unique behaviours, habitats, and the vital role they play in the coastal ecosystem. Adults and children alike will have the chance to learn about marine plastic pollution and its impact on these fragile habitats, as well as the more far-reaching consequences of plastic waste on marine life and the overall health of the oceans. In addition, there will be an opportunity for attendees to familiarize themselves with the native plants that thrive in a beachside environment.

The event will close out with a barbecue on the beach, beginning at noon on Saturday. There's no cost to attend, but Wills says the Bird-Friendly team will gratefully accept donations by both cash and cards.

After the beach clean-up, you can find out more about local birds at the Lions Bay Bird Friendly City website , or borrow a Birder Backpack and head out on your own to spot a few in the wild.

Foraging Glaucous Gull

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Looks like it was another amazing event. Sorry to have missed it.

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