Monday, March 7, 2011

Spawn At Last!

This morning we awoke to the smell of spawning Pacific Herring here in Parksville. Although it was only a minor spawning event, the sounds of thousands of gulls and the smell of herring milt and roe in the water was obvious. This spawn, the first of 2011, took place near the foot of Doehle Rd, which is between Parksville Bay and French Creek. It's typical for earlier spawns to take place here. Hopefully, we start seeing some major spawning activity in the next few days.

Although today's event was relatively small, it still attracted an impressive number of birds and mammals. My estimates for approximately 300 metres of shoreline are as follows;

Brant: 31
Eurasian Wigeon: 2
American Wigeon: 106
Mallard: 37
Greater Scaup: 150
Harlequin Duck: 11
Surf Scoter: 580
White-winged Scoter: 4
Black Scoter: 10
Long-tailed Duck: 26
Bufflehead: 18
Common Goldeneye: 37
Barrow's Goldeneye: 12
Common Merganser: 21
Red-breasted Merganser: 53
Pacific Loon: 3
Common Loon: 5
Horned Grebe: 8
Red-necked Grebe" 2
Double-crested Cormorant: 9
Pelagic Cormorant: 1
Bald Eagle: 34
Black Oystercatcher: 10
Mew Gull: 4800
California Gull: 1460
Herring Gull: 18
Thayer's Gull: 1850
Iceland Gull: 1 (Kumlien's type)
Western Gull: 6
Glaucous-winged Gull: 4700 (including various Western Gull and Herring Gull hybrids)
Glaucous Gull: 1
Belted Kingfisher: 1
Northwestern Crow: 89

River Otter: 4
Harbor Seal: 24
California Sea Lion: 46
Steller's Sea Lion: 12


Judi said...

Thanks for sharing - and what great photos! It always amazes me that any of the spawned fish make it past hatching when you see the feasting that goes on. The herring are such a critical part of west coast ecosystems. I wish we had herring hatcheries up and down the coast to help boost the numbers.

Abu Anka said...

Thanks Judi. It is amazing. It's a lucky herring that survives to spawn.
Another option would be to stop fishing the holy hell out them maybe?

J said...

Great photos! My family and I, for one year, are finding life in adventure. We hike, kayak, backpack, surf, bike... the list goes on with our two young children (almost 6 and 4 years old). So far the challenge has been fantastic, finding at least 5 living things on each adventure. I would love to catch a glimpse of the herring run, do you know of any other places one could witness this fabulous event? Thanks...Jill Collins

Abu Anka said...

It can happen anywhere from Comox to Nanaimo over the next couple of weeks. Pay attention to what's happening between Parksville and Qualicum Beach over the next week and you will likley see something happening.