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Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Herring 5, Fred 31

The herring migration is in full effect, and most herring-counters are seeing reasonable numbers of fish during their 10-minute counting windows. (Earlier chapters in the saga of the annual herring count: http://tinyurl.com/lhyoqub )

Although some fish swim up the ladder on their own, others travel in schools or "flushes."

That's what I saw yesterday: Midway through my window, about 30 herring blasted up the ladder, passing the counting spot in 3-4 seconds. (That's why I have to say "about 30;" counting that many moving, weaving fish as they pass one small counting spot isn't easy.)

Here's why the fish travel in groups; large numbers of fish-eating birds gather at the base of the spillway, where the herring have to funnel into the ladder:


I've highlighted just the cormorants here:


It was interesting to see that the cormorants in the water were facing downstream, which meant the birds were having to paddle backwards, against the current, to maintain their positions. But that also meant that they could see the herring as they approached.

The cormorants weren't alone: Overhead, about 20 gulls were wheeling just over the spillway, too, looking for fish or scraps left by the cormorants.

It's quite a gauntlet the herring have to pass.

But pass they did, and I was glad to finally see my first flush.