Archive for April, 2018

Poisson d’Avril!

April 2, 2018

Last night was supposed to be a good night for a grunion run, but it was also April Fools day. Many people view grunions as a myth, and asking them to go out at midnight to look for a mythical fish on April Fools day seemed unlikely to get a favorable response. Worse, the French term for “April Fools” is “Poisson d’Avril” (or “Fish of April) and the jokes tend to have a fish theme.

It turned out to be densely overcast and slightly foggy, no lovely full moon shining on the waters to tempt people out. It was also Easter and the second day of Passover.

Nonetheless, I asked a bunch of people to come meet me on the beach at 10:40PM.

Seek for the fish that is buried:
On beaches spawning soon;
There shall be flashlight carried
Stronger than clouded moon.
There shall be shown a furrow,
That eggs are near at hand,
And fish shall start to burrow,
While others up shall stand.

I went directly from contra-dance (and I tried to get the dancers to join me too) so I got to the beach a little early. I hung out just above the tide mark to see if any fish would come early. No fish did, but some waves came and wet my shoes — to keep me from feeling lonely.

No one did join me.

I waited around for 10 minutes and then went walking down the beach.

No fish were out either.

At first there were Night Herons on the beach… when I got within 20 feet of them they’d fly off further down the beach, so it ended up as a kind of leisurely chase (though that was not my intent).

After 15 minutes or so one of them found a fish, and I watched him/her try to eat it. It was dark so I couldn’t see if the fish were a grunion. I tried to take a picture, but the camera thought it was dark too.

Night Heron with fish

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Night Heron actually capture anything before.

After another 10 minutes I turned around and walked back. The Night Herons were gone now. I’ve noticed that in the past, they seem to disappear after a bit. I wonder if they are only out for the high tide? Anyway they always seem to miss the grunion runs.

Now I started seeing a flock of Sanderlings. I don’t recall seeing Sanderlings at night. I tried taking a picture of them too, this one was even worse, as a wave made me jump as I was taking it and I got rather an odd effect (but no Sanderlings).

Those are the lights of the wharf. The bright one is one the Corps of Engineers has placed on the beach.

The Sanderlings stayed out all the time I was out there, and I tried several times to take their picture, but they are smaller and more erratic than the Night Herons and I never actually captured an image.

I saw my first fish at 11:30, just a few scouts, no matings at first. They came up, intermittently for about 45 minutes. A little after midnight I saw one mating, five minutes later I saw another. Then a couple more scatterings of scouts, and that was it.

Not the best run I’ve seen. I suppose I was the fool after all.