Herring are Here!

March 4th, 2013 | by | 11 Comments
Published in Beaches, Central Vancouver Island, Destinations, Estuaries, Fish, Landscapes, Nature Viewing
Tags: , , , , ,

It was such a gorgeous day on Sunday that I packed the kids in the car and headed down to Parksville. Both A and C love the playground on the waterfront, and it was a pretty easy sell to get them moving. Typically, we try to work a nature walk (or two) into any day trip and I figured that we could do a beach walk at either Parksville Beach or Qualicum Beach.

Coming down to the Little Qualicum River, I realized that this wasn’t a typical day. Just south of the Little Qualicum River estuary, the water was a brilliant aqua-marine blue and an armada of fishing boats stretched as far as I could see. It took a bit of convincing but the kids agreed to change the itinerary and make a beach stop first. It was well worth it!

Little Qualicum River Beach #1

The main spawning event seemed to be between the estuary at Little Qualicum River
and the north end of Qualicum Beach.

Little Qualicum Beach #2

No eggs or dead herring washed up on the beach,
but the colour of the water was a good sign that the spawn was on!

We spent some time balancing on the drift logs and looking at the flocks of seagulls and the working fishing boats. There were no eggs or fish washed up on the shore, but the fecundity of the herring was evident in the smell and colour of the water. Soon attention waned and it was time to head on to the Parksville Community Park playground.

More boats were lined up in the main bay at Qualicum Beach but “we” decided that the playground was a priority. I figured with this amount of herring (the whole bay was aqua-marine) there might be something to see on the way back so went with the flow.

A couple of hours later, the fishermen were still hard at work when we drove through Qualicum Beach on the way home. I managed to find a parking spot on the waterfront and we headed out onto the sand to do some exploring. With the tide dropping it was possible to get a bit closer to the boats and the walking was easy for the kids. We found a couple of fishing floats and got some more great looks at several different kinds of gulls.

Gulls at Qualicum Beach

Gulls rested at the edge of the beach while more gathered around the fishing boats further out.

All in all it was a spectacular day and amazing to witness the spectacle of the herring spawn first hand. The herring are here, and the next couple of weeks will bring some exceptional birding and wildlife viewing all up and down the east coast of Vancouver Island.

Qualicum Beach Panorama

It was hard to capture the size of the bay and the number of boats without doing a panorama.


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