Birding in Victoria, BC at Somenos Marsh in Duncan

While not technically in Victoria, one of my favourite birding spots in the region is north of Victoria in the Cowichan region at Somenos Marsh. The marsh is located just off the northbound TransCanada highway in Duncan, about an hour’s drive north of Victoria.

Somenos Marsh in Duncan, BC

Initially, we found the marsh somewhat accidentally while driving by on our way somewhere else up island. It turned out to be a gem in the middle of the city. Thousands of migratory and overwintering birds depend on the marsh for its essential resources. The result? More than 200 species of birds have been sighted here.

flowers paint the meadow pink
Boardwalk at Somenos Mars

The marsh features a nice, loop walkway with raised boardwalks and interpretive signs. There are currently plans to install a viewing platform in the future and the society is actively fundraising for it as of this post.

For me, Somenos really shines in the spring and summer! I’ll never forget watching diving and soaring Tree Swallows the first time I visited the marsh! Being one of my favourite birds, I was enthralled and impressed by the number of swallows here.

Tree Swallow perched for a rare rest on a nest-box
Tree Swallow pair at a nesting box

They use nest-boxes perched alongside the boardwalks to raise young, feeding them all the delicious insects available in the wetland. While Tree Swallows soar above your head and sometimes dive in front of you, Song Sparrows sing their familiar melodies. Common Yellowthroats tick and chick, singing witchety-witchety-witchety from within the tall grass, teasing you with their song. They are only visible by the twitching and moving stalks of grass except for the occasional glimpse of their bright yellow body and bold eye-stripe awarded to those who are patient.

A parent Tree Swallow watches over nestlings at Somenos Marsh
Tree Swallow perched for a rest in the sun.

While it promises birds abounding in spring and summer, Somenos shines any time of year! Wintering ducks and geese find shelter and food at the flooded marsh during the cold months. Bald Eagles can be seen soaring the skies and Spotted Towhees can be heard croaking and mewing from within the bushes at any time of year while Red-winged Blackbirds buoyantly flounce from cattail to nestbox giving out their familiar raucous calls. It is well-worth a visit on its own or on your way elsewhere up island.

American Robin perched at the highest branch like a sentinel over the marsh
Cedar Waxwings explore the marsh feeding on insects and when they run out, switching to berries.

Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society
Somenos Marsh eBird Page

2 thoughts on “Birding in Victoria, BC at Somenos Marsh in Duncan

  1. Marsh lands are wonderful habits to explore for birds. The one we visit regularly has all the same species as Somenos in spring; we go often! Looks like a great place to visit in spring. Love that tree swallow couple.

    Have you been in winter yet to see who’s there in the ‘off-season?’ We had our biggest counting day in the middle of winter: 56 species. But then our winter isn’t like yours ..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Actually, it is great in the winter, too. So many ducks and geese. The winter marsh is such lovely habitat for them when it floods. Winter here in Victoria is generally quite mild, so we do have quite a few bird species here (especially compared to the rest of Canada!) but no, not quite like where you are!

      I haven’t gone to the marsh very often in the winter, though. I guess I tend to travel north more often in the summer months and hibernate a bit during winter and stick closer to home…

      Liked by 1 person


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