Project Outline

Mayne Island Conservancy is joint caretaker of the Active Pass Important Bird Area, an international designation for areas that support internationally and nationally significant populations or species of birds at some part of their life cycle. Active Pass is habitat for three bird species that fall under the designation criteria: Pacific loon, Brant’s cormorant and Bonaparte’s gull. The Galiano Conservancy is the joint caretaker on the Galiano side of Active Pass.

In 2009 MICS initiated the Active Pass Important Bird Area Stewardship Initiative to engage property owners along the Mayne Island shore of Active Pass to become active participants in its long-term management. This is the first community based monitoring program for such an area  in British Columbia.

Complete information about all aspects of this research and conservation undertaking can be found at the web site dedicated to the Active Pass IBA.

Observer Activities

Active Pass caretakers Michael Dunn and Mike Hoebel, and caretakers from IBA’s around the Lower Mainland attended the IBA Caretakers workshop held in Tsawwassen November 7, 2012. Photo has me on centre spot scope practicing our large flock counting techniques at Boundary Bay Regional Park. Workshop was the first to get groups of IBA caretakers together to connect and share ideas and practices for IBA conservation. We also were given primers on using the new online standard monitoring protocols and annual reporting forms as well as, the resources and tools that are available to all caretakers on-line. We closed with a roundtable with fellow caretakers sharing their success stories.In all we have had 11 stewards providing regular reporting of activities within the IBA with three reporting on an ‘as available’ basis for the Mayne Island side. An IBA beach access sign has been on the trailhead to Miners Bay community beach.

A full colour Active Pass 6 panel promotional brochure has been developed using island-based talent which will be available at the usual locations on Mayne. To view the brochure please click here and here

Signage Unveiling – Galiano

The information signs about the Active Pass Important Bird Area at Georgina Point on Mayne Island and in Bellhouse Park on Galiano illustrated on this page were dedicated on October 30, 2011 in public ceremonies on both islands.

Signage unveiling, Galiano

Signage unveiling, Galiano

Next spring we hope to have weatherproof racks installed along with these signs for the IBA brochures and other material, which together with the splendid artwork (see links to .pdf files in the “Introduction” section of this page) will provide high quality information to residents and visitors alike.

Signage Unveiling – Mayne

Signage unveiling, Mayne

Signage unveiling, Mayne

Over 30 cheer leaders and supporters of the Active Pass IBA turned out for the formal inauguration of signage on Galiano and Mayne Islands. Among them were special guests together with representatives from the sponsoring organisations:

Mike Hoebel and Ken Millard, Galiano Conservancy
Michael Dunn, Mayne Island Conservancy
David Howe, CRD Director
Pete Davidson, Bird Studies Canada
Ken Hancock, CRD director
Rob Walker, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
Krista Englund, BC Nature

During the ceremony Mike Hoebell and Michael Dunn outlined the history of the IBA program and specifically the process to create these signs for each of the islands. They also spoke of the partnership that was created within each community to raise the awareness of the Active Pass IBA and the stewardship program that is in place now. Noting that by participating in the IBA network we connect our island communities to the world and the world to our islands and people.

Pete Davidson spoke of the international nature of the IBA program and its purpose, noting that in the European Union, IBAs have official protective status in all the EU countries where they are identified. In North America, it is a voluntary network that must use local organisations and communities to conserve these essential areas for birds.

Rob Walker, Gulf Islands National Park told the assembled company how important it is for communities within the park and the future National Marine Conservation Area to take on conservation and stewardship initiatives in support of the National Park objectives. The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is fully supportive of and will continue to support such community based endeavours as the Active Pass IBA.

Thanks to all who attended especially those who had to travel from Vancouver via Swartz Bay to attend both ceremonies. Michael Dunn, finding the avian omens and auguries wholly favourable, writes:

“At the Galiano dedication, the group was bugled in by a pair of Bald Eagles as well as awed by the sudden swoop of a Sharp-shinned Hawk into the shrubs right behind the new sign. While quieter on the Mayne side, the ceremony was witnessed by roosting flocks of Thayer’s and California gulls as well as a flotilla of Surf Scoters. Black Oystercatchers made a brief fly by just as the speeches were ending.”

We are grateful to our partners for their generous support of this project, by way of money and resources as well as their practical assistance and enthusiasm :

  • VanCity Savings Credit Union enviroFund
  • Mayne Island Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Galiano Island Conservancy Association
  • Galiano Parks and Recreation Commission
  • BC Nature

Project Management

Michael Dunn leads the IBA caretaker program for Mayne Island. He retired from the Canadian Wildlife Service as senior habitat conservation coordinator for Pacific Region (May 07) where he led marine conservation programs for the region. Michael has led science-based and interdisciplinary teams on many bird conservation issues, and was the CWS lead for the creation of the proposed Scott Islands Marine Wildlife Area. He has experience and knowledge on shorezone and eelgrass mapping and classification, the development of stewardship programs and the creation of communications products. Michael has been a naturalist and community educator for 35 years.

Facts & Stats

Pacific Loons

  • population is poorly known but 2 to 4,000 loons regularly occur at the pass during winter forming the largest concentration in the Strait of Georgia
  • these numbers represent about 2% of the estimated world population.

Brandt’s Cormorant

  • 4,000 wintering Brandt’s Cormorants have been recorded in Active Pass
  • may be as much as 3% of the world’s Brandt’s Cormorant population

Bonaparte’s Gull

  • present in large numbers with about 10,000
  • 4% of the estimated world’s population
  • possibly as much as 14% of the Pacific flyway population are temporary residents during fall migration
  • between 7,000 and 15,000 are usually present during the spring migration

Ten pairs of Bald Eagles were observed nesting along the shores of the pass, and upwards of 100 eagles occasionally forage in the winter months. In all, there are up to 40 species of marine and marine associated birds that regularly use the Pass at some time in their annual life cycle.

Volunteer Opportunities

Any shoreline property owner interested in participating in the Active Pass IBA Stewardship Initiative can contact Michael Dunn by e-mail, or phone 5745


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