Birding in British Columbia

A starting place for birding information for British Columbia, Canada. This web site features a birders discussion forum, links to birding newsgroups, articles and book reviews, checklists, regional hotspots, photo gallery, weather reports, and visiting birder information.
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 Post subject: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Feb 26 12:25 pm 
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Pacific Herring are spawning between Parksville and French Creek right now. It started this morning and does seem to be growing and spreading. Righ now it covers about two kms of coastline and is about 400 meters wide at it's greatest extent, but probably averages about 200 meters wide overall.

Gulls, Bald Eagles, scoters, goldeneye, and both species of sea-lions are in attendance in good numbers. No sign of the fishing fleet as of yet.


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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Feb 26 6:03 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Feb 26 8:29 pm 
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Oh, if only I could get there somehow!! Will be looking forward to your photos!

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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Feb 28 11:15 pm 
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A Mew Gull, one of many thousands gorging on herring and herring roe just west of Parksville today.


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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Mar 01 7:04 pm 
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Hi all,

The herring spawn continued for the 4th straight day in the Parksville-Qualicum area today. The spawn was heaviest in the morning between Parksville Bay and French Creek. By afternoon the spawn had spread to Beach Creek in Qualicum Beach. It was heavy enough in the afternoon that it could be seen with the eye from the Little Qualicum estuary.

I'm not sure why, but a large flock of birds (+- 27,000 birds) has now congregated off the Brant viewing stand at the west end of Qualicum Beach. I don't think there has been a spawn there, but the birds are certainly getting roe off the bottom. It must be, that there is significant drift of roe from the spawning areas at French Creek. I can't think of any other explanation. I did a count at the viewing stand at 16:30.

Brant: 189
American Wigeon: 111
Eurasian Wigeon: 2
Mallard: 26
Greater Scaup: 3634
Harlequin Duck: 166
Surf Scoter: 9250
White-winged Scoter: 337
Black Scoter: 580
Long-tailed Duck: 7025
Bufflehead: 288
Common Goldeneye: 96
Barrow's Goldeneye: 30
Common Merganser: 148
Red-breasted Merganser: 251
Pacific Loon: 34
Common Loon: 27
Horned Grebe: 16
Red-necked Grebe: 11
Brandt's Cormorant: 53
Double-crested Cormorant: 2
Pelagic Cormorant: 20
Gull species: 5000 +- (estimate)
Common Murre: 3

Gull numbers are up over 40,000 birds between Parksville and the Little Qualicum. Today I saw 9 species.

Brant numbers are now over 1000 birds in the Parksville-Qualicum Wildlife Management Area, with most concentrated at Columbia Beach.

thanks,

Guy L. Monty
Parksville, BC


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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Mar 01 10:54 pm 
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Location: north shore
wow, looks awesome!

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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Mar 01 11:32 pm 
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Amazing. Monty how are you able to be so exact in your count? Just wondering.


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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Mar 02 8:42 am 
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The first thing I do is make an estimate of the flock, and write it down. Then I count every bird, and compare the two numbers. This helps keep one in good practice for estimation, and if we loose a flock to a disturbance I have an estimate at least. My two numbers are rarely out by more than 5%.

To count each bird I use a tally counter in each hand, and very rapidly count two species at a time as I sweep through the flock with a 20X scope. Rather than actually counting, you simply push the button every time you see a head of the appropriate species. It took about 25 minutes to count this flock.

As often as we are able, we do counts with a co-worker, and compare numbers to make sure we are on the same page. Counts are virtually always extremely close, and virtually never identical. In other words, no, there is no way to be 100% accurate. But, these are birds, not dollars, so the world isn't going to end if we are off a bird or two. We are looking for trend information, not an absolute number, so as long as the counts are performed the same way, it all works. Having compared numbers with co-workers for years, our counts are rarely off more than 1% in flocks like these.

I should add that this does take practice. I've been doing these counts 6 or 7 days a week between February and May since 1999.


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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Mar 02 8:50 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Mar 04 6:58 pm 
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Thats inspirational - both your photos, and your counting technique. Practice indeed. The intensity of colour and composition in that last photo reminds me of a Maxwell Parrish.

How long does the spawn typically last?


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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Mar 04 9:51 pm 
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Thanks.

The spawn can last from a month, to a few days. One never knows. It really depends upon the state of the herring stock. I have not seen any actual spawning activity, for a couple of days now, but that doesn't mean it won't start again, and I don't know what is happening outside of the Parksville-Qualicum area right now either.


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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Mar 07 10:14 pm 
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Is the Herring Spawn still going on in Parksville? Thank you.


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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Mar 07 10:15 pm 
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The active spawning now appears to be over for the year. There are still large numbers of sea-ducks, gulls, Brant and sea-lions in the area.


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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Mar 07 10:20 pm 
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Thank you for your fast reply. Does it happen anywhere else if it is not in Parksville any more?


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 Post subject: Re: Herring Spawn In Parksville!!!
PostPosted: Mar 08 9:41 am 
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I heard there were a couple of spawns down near Nanaimo, but I think they have finished up too. So far, no spawns anywhere else that I have heard of. Really sad actually. The herring used to spawn along most of the east coast of the island. This is what happens when we allow unsustainable fishing practices.


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