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Caviar, anyone?

This Vancouver Island beach is very popular at this time of year. The western gulls flock here literally by the thousands.

What’s the attraction?

It’s not exactly a pretty, touristy beach of white sand.

But the gulls know what they’re after.

Lunch is being served. The gull in the top left of the photo below has a beak full of caviar.

It’s herring time and the roe is all over the beach. Gourmet dining at its finest.

A word to the wise: if you are walking this stretch of beach at herring time, it might be a good idea to bring an umbrella even if it’s not raining. When the gulls get riled up and are wheeling overhead, some of them can’t always contain their excitement. Best to have that umbrella ready.



Same tree. Different bird. Same watchful eyes.

This is a good perch. I see this from my window as I look out towards the bay. I can’t resist trying to get a photo, even though it’s quite far away. I zoom in and try not to shake the camera as I press the shutter. It’s not perfect, but he (or she) is recognizable.  He’s got a great view of the beach and any activity that may signal food.

“Any leftovers?” he asks.

The herring fishery is as good as over, most boats having caught their allowed quota, but the feast for the scavengers is just beginning. Dead herring litter the beaches here and there, and strands of kelp and other seaweed have skeins of herring roe stuck to them. It all makes a tasty and healthy snack for seagulls and eagles.

I thought I’d try some of the herring myself. A friend working on a seiner gave us a few herring mainly for bait, since it isn’t the ideal food fishery time. The fatter herring are fished for food in November. But since these were so fresh, I fried a few fillets in the pan. They have a lot of little bones, but it’s so worth it to pick them out as you eat. They were delicious.

Of course they had to be cleaned up a bit first.

I feel a bit guilty about eating them. See how they are looking at me with reproach?