Witty's Lagoon Regional Park, Vancouver Island British Columbia

Witty's Lagoon Regional Parkdiving Vancouver Island
Metchosin, Vancouver Island, BC

Water is the essence of Witty's Lagoon. Creek, waterfall, lagoon, beach and rocky shore draw you into an ecosystem rich with coastal plants and animals.


Explore and Discover

Begin your exploration of Witty's Lagoon at the Nature Information Centre. Check out the interpretive displays on the lagoon's natural and cultural history, and find out what's in season. CRD Parks Naturalists will give you a sense of direction before you hit the trails.

Adjacent to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in the Bilston Creek Watershed, lies Witty's Lagoon Regional Park, a harmonious blend of protected natural environments.

Enter through a dark woodland of immense Douglas-fir: the Songhees people made fishing hooks from this wood's knots. Broadleaf Maple is also common here, called "Paddle-Tree" in a number of Coast Salish languages, a reference to its carving use.

Running through the forest is Bilston Creek, its edges laced with delicate Lady Fern. The creek tumbles toward a waterfall, then spills over volcanic rock-a trickle in Summer, and a thunderous cascade in Winter-misting Ocean Spray and Stonecrop clinging to the cliff.

Where fresh water meets salt water, the lagoon is formed. Wind, tide, and current create an environment teeming with life. The calm, nutrient-rich waters are warm and shallow, valuable as nurseries for animals which tolerate both salt and fresh water, and feed on the microscopic life flourishing here.

Further on lies the salt marsh, a tidal zone bordering the lagoon. Here channels of salt water create new territory for tiny snails, rock crabs and fish which migrate from the ocean. A thick carpet of green covers the marsh. This is Glasswort; in Summer it is entwined in the orange stems of Saltmarsh Dodder, a parasitic plant. Many of the plants found in the saltmarsh are critical for wintering wildfowl which feed in this area.

Beyond, a wide beach beckons. Few plants and animals survive the rolling, churning movement of sand here. But just below the surface are those who have adapted: burrowers such as Bloodworms find food among the tiny grains; Bent-nose Clams, filter feeders, strain food out of the water; and browsers like Purple Shore Crabs eat decomposing plants and animals. Above the high water mark, tall rye grasses rustle in the wind, and Beach Pea and Sea Rocket grow among the driftwood.

At the edge of the saltmarsh, a narrow spit is home to sprawling plants like Silver Burweed and rare Yellow Sand Verbena. Waves push and mould this long bank, carrying and sorting sand from a nearby eroding cliff. If the spit ever meets the far shore, the lagoon will disappear, as the saltmarsh slowly takes over.

sitting Lady Falls Witty's LagoonThe spit points toward the rocky shore at Tower Point. In this intertidal zone, plants and animals must be able to survive different periods of wet and dry. At low tide, look for Purple Sea Stars, white Acorn Barnacles and brown Rockweed. Scurrying Hermit Crabs and Shield Limpets with their cone hats find shelter under seaweed. Harbour Seals play in kelp beds and sea lions pass by on their migration route each Spring.

Birds

Witty's Lagoon is as diverse in bird life as it is in landscapes, making it a birder's paradise. The park contains over 160 documented species and is considered one of the best places in the region to bird watch. Listen for the rattle call of the Belted Kingfisher flying high over the creek. Feel the air vibrate as Orange-crowned Warblers and Dark-eyed Juncos fill the forest with birdsong. Wander through the tidal flats to Tower Point, following the tracks of Great Blue Heron or Western Sandpiper. Bring your binoculars, and be prepared for discovery.

Birding at Wittys Lagoon

When you enter Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park for a day of bird watching, you enter a special place. Listen for the rattle-like call of the Belted Kingfisher flying high over Metchosin Creek. Feel the air vibrate as Orange-crowned Warblers and Dark-eyed Juncos fill the forest with birdsong. Look for Canada Geese at the edge of the saltmarsh. Wander through tidal flats to Tower Point, Following the tracks of the Great Blue Heron or the Western Sandpiper. This is Witty’s Lagoon at its best, a paradise for birds, and a birder’s paradise.

This 56 hectare park is a harmonious blend of protected natural environments. A spectacular waterfall, mixed woodland, tidal lagoon, sandy beach, and rocky shore are all home to an impressive variety of coastal birds; both common and elusive species are found at Witty’s Lagoon throughout the year. Some are widespread while others are restricted to specific habitat types.

To find out more about the natural and cultural history of Witty’s Lagoon, stop by the Nature Information Center, talk to the naturalist on duty, and have a look at the natural history displays. Or join in a nature walk. Interpretive programs are offered in the park throughout the year.

Witty’s Lagoon car park rules eased
Metchosin compromises to allow easier access to beach; signs show where street parking is allowed
By Bill Cleverley Times Colonist staff
June 09, 2006

Metchosin is allowing street parking for Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park day trippers, but wants them to know that their cars could be towed if they park illegally on Witty Beach or Stillmeadow roads.

Residents have long complained of park users blocking their driveways, and emergency vehicles have difficulty when cars are parked along both sides of the roads.

“Last year the council just outlawed parking altogether, which caused no end of stink,” said Mayor John Ranns. “So this year we talked it over with the residents and I think we’ve come up with a pretty reasonable solution.”

The municipality has now posted signs indicating where parking is and isn’t allowed. Totem Towing will remove any vehicles illegally parked, said Metchosin acting chief administrative officer Dave Drummond.

“We just want people to follow the parking rules and not get their cars towed.”

If residents have problems they aren’t to contact the towing company directly but instead call the municipality during business hours and Capital Regional District parks in the off hours, Drummond said.

The new signage is a compromise, he said. “What council wanted to do, and I think the residents wanted to [do] was to provide some parking for people, as much as possibly could be done within the constraints of not blocking driveways and keeping the route open for emergency vehicles.”

Ranns said the municipality is putting in some special drains and filling in some ditches along Witty Beach Road to allow for more parking. The road parking is needed because the CRD regional park lot is just too far away (1.1 kilometres) from the beach for some, Ranns said.
“One thing I want to make clear is the residents of Witty Beach Road all supported having parking there because they felt it’s a beautiful beach and families and kids should have an opportunity to use it. The only thing the residents were concerned about was parking in their driveways,” Ranns said.

People who have their cars towed could be in for a long walk. Cars will be taken to the company’s compound at 1297 Glenshire Dr., off Sooke Road in Langford. Cars towed after 5 p.m. cannot be picked up until the morning of the next working day.

Parking is free at most regional parks and trails. At Sooke Potholes and Thetis Lake, pay parking is in effect May 1-Sept. 30 at a cost of $2 per day or $15 for the season. Parking is free at all regional parks and trails Oct. 1 to April 30.

Melanie Koupal, a new arrival to the region found her way to Witty’s Lagoon on a recent sunny day
Melanie Koupal, a new arrival to the region found her way to Witty’s Lagoon on a recent sunny day.
Nearby residents have been plagued by illegal parking in the neighbourhood. Debra Brash/TC

 

Whale Watching Vancouver Island

Oceanside pied a terre for exploring Wittys Lagoon

 

Witty's Lagoon Regional Park, Vancouver Island British Columbia

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