Film and Speaker Series Offered During Brant Wildlife Festival Kicks Off March 6

February 26, 2014 - 8:00am

Fossils of Vancouver Island, Owls of BC and Penguins of the Arctic are just a few of the topics the public is invited to learn about during a new spring film and speaker series at Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Deep Bay Marine Field Station.

The film and speakers series is being held in conjunction with the Brant Wildlife Festival March 1 to April 22 and will continue throughout the spring.

The series starts on March 6 with a presentation on Vancouver Island fossils by biologist Graham Beard, an avid fossil collector for more than 40 years.

Beard is a former high school teacher with significant paleontology experience. He’s authored a book on paleontology and is the president of the Vancouver Island Paleontology Museum Society. Part of his world class collection of 20,000 artifacts is on display in the museum in Qualicum Beach.

Beard’s presentation, Fossils: Keys to the Past, is a slide and lecture presentation with a question and discussion period to follow. Many fossils from the Vancouver Island area and other parts of the world will be on display at the Field Station during his presentation.

On March 14, the second event in the series features a presentation by Russell Cannings on the owls of British Columbia. Cannings is an avid birder from the Okanagan and a field biologist in BC for the past 10 years.

According to Cannings, out of Canada’s 16 breeding species of owls, 14 occur annually in BC. They range in size from the insectivorous Flammulated Owl to the dog-nabbing Great Horned. Owls have always intrigued humans and there are many things that make them unique. This lecture aims to highlight some of the distinctive features of each species, including habitat concerns, and even a few sound-effects.

In 2013, Cannings published his first book, Birdfinding in British Columbia, drawing on some of his experiences from setting a new “Big Year” record for BC when he saw 373 bird species in the province in one calendar year.

Cannings is currently enrolled at VIU in Nanaimo where he hopes to obtain a high school teaching degree. He is also a regular birding-guide for “Avocet Tours,” and runs the BC Bird Alert—a province-wide blog on the latest rare bird sightings.

All presentations in VIU’s spring film and speaker series take place from 7 to 9 pm at the Deep Bay Marine Field Station in Bowser, 370 Crome Point Road, an hour drive north of Nanaimo. Doors open at 6 pm. Gourmet snacks and treats prepared by VIU’s award-winning Culinary Arts students will be available for purchase.

Tickets ($10 each or $50 for the entire seven-part series) may be purchased at the Salish Sea Market in Bowser, Courtyard Café in Qualicum Beach, the Welcome Centre at VIU’s Nanaimo campus, or by calling 250-740-6611.

Additional speakers in the series include Bill Merilees (March 20) on penguins of the Antarctic, Dick Beamish (March 27) on the Strait of Georgia and its fishes, Paula Wild (April 3) on cougars, Wiley Evans (April 10) on ocean acidification and Tessa Danelesko (April 24) on wild whales. For more details and driving directions, visit www.viu/

For a complete schedule of events during the Brant Wildlife Festival, visit or call toll free 1-866-288-7878. The Nature Trust of British Columbia is proud to coordinate the Brant Wildlife Festival.



Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University P: 250.740.6288

E: Twitter: @VIUNews

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