Colwood Creek Watershed
Much of the Colwood Creek watershed has been extensively altered so as to exclude a large percentage of the wildlife that once lived there, especially in the mid section which is highly developed. Furthermore, many of the remaining forested areas are isolated (“fragmented”) from the surrounding landscape, so that many animals, particularly larger species, are not able to move freely throughout the area. Nevertheless, the remaining natural ecosystems are important for many species of plants and animals, whose populations have the potential to increase if existing natural areas can be protected and linked to other areas through corridors or “greenways.” For example:
- In Mt. Wells Regional Park, in the upper watershed, intact Garry Oak meadows and Coastal Douglas Fir forest host a variety of species, including flowering plants such as camas, shootingstar, satin flower and prairie lupine; and animals such as the ruffed grouse, red squirrel, black-tailed deer and alligator lizard.
- The Humpback reservoir and Mt. Wells, in the upper watershed, abut the 4000 hectare Sooke Hills Wilderness Regional Park Reserve, which is home to many types of wildlife including black bear, cougars, grey wolf, Roosevelt elk and the endangered marbled murrelet.
- Glen Lake provides habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds as well as many butterflies.
- On Royal Roads University land, cougars are occasionally sighted, and deer are common. Small mammals can also found here, including white-footed mouse, raccoon, river otter, grey squirrel (an introduced species), eastern cottontail rabbit (an introduced species), Townsend’s vole and mink. Many species of birds live in the forests and wetlands on the property, including robins, juncos, crows, siskins, chickadees, kinglets, winter wren, song sparrow, varied thrush, steller’s jay, common raven, hairy, downy and pileated woodpeckers, northern flicker, brown creeper, red crossbill, chipping sparrow, Rufous hummingbird, ruffed grouse, red-breasted nuthatch, bald eagle and red-tailed hawk.
- Cutthroat trout, sculpin and stickleback (fish) live in Colwood Creek, as surveyed by volunteers with the Esquimalt Lagoon Stewardship Initiative (ELSI). A few anecdotal reports of spawning coho salmon have also been recorded.
- Esquimalt Lagoon is a federally designated Migratory Bird Sanctuary, and an important feeding and breeding area for many types of seabirds, shorebirds and waterfowl, including red-breasted merganser, bufflehead, goldeneye, sandpipers, black oystercatcher, surf scoter, cormorants, gulls, Canada goose, Brandt goose, mallard, American wigeon, common loon, and various grebes. Purple martin (a variety of swallow) have recently successfully bred in nest boxes placed along the lagoon. Other plant, algae and animal species found in the lagoon include eelgrass, kelp, sea lettuce, crabs, seals, river otters, and shellfish such as clams, mussels and snails.