Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Counting Has Stopped ~ Next Steps

We stopped counting at the end of the day Sunday as we didn't feel we'd get anything for all of the effort involved. However, we'll still monitor the run several times a day for the next week or so to be sure we haven't made a mistake in doing that.

Since the last post of May 6 when we counted a total of 41 fish, that has now leaped up to 53 - our final number for counting this year at Mill Pond - an unbelievably small number.

So, What's Going On?
That's a question I've been asked many times. We'll be doing a lot more work on this over the coming months and we'll keep you posted here.

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To Our Counters...
Thank you for helping out this year and I know I've said this many times before: If we didn't take these counts we'd have no idea of what was going on.

Those frustrating zero after zero counts have had a direct impact on the awareness of this issue and your efforts have clearly quantified the severity of the situation. Instead of just guesses or approximations, we have irrefutable data that's as clear as can be - thanks to you!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Terrible, Terrible Numbers ~ On The Lighter Side

The counts continue to be mostly zeros with just 41 fish counted to-date at Mill Pond Station - that's about 1/4 herring for each of the 153 counts.

Below shows the counts for the first 17 days of the run for all of the years we have counted:
  • 2011 -      41
  • 2010 -    298
  • 2009 - 1,255
  • 2008 - 4,574
  • 2007 - 1,558
  • 2006 -    453
So, Do We Just Keep Counting?
In most prior years we had a second wave of migration which started at about this time and may have been blueback herring [it's almost impossible to tell alewives from bluebacks]. We'll wait a few more days and if there's no uptick, we'll stop counting for the year.

I know how frustrating it's been for everyone to go down to count and bring back zero after zero, but the truly important thing is we know exactly how bad things have been, which is valuable information in itself.

Honorary Herring
At  River Day last Sunday, Abigail Franklin of the Cape Cod Conservation District was working with young kids teaching them about herring and having them make eyes and fins to wear. Below are Rebecca and Sabrina who are shown ready to swim up the ladder.

Since we've had so few fish to count, we designated them as "Honorary Herring" and I removed two real herring from our count sheet and replaced them with these two. Now, if they would only tell us where all their friends were...

Herring Gulls
I've written before about how these gulls hang out at the Mill Pond waiting for a herring to pass by just a little too slowly. When I told folks that I've seen the gulls swallow a herring whole in one gulp, all I got was a look of disbelief.

I've always wanted to catch them doing just that with my video camera and have tried several times to no avail, but for all of you non-believers out there, watch this! And the old timer at the end of this one is calmer then most would be [I get ticked when I get one or two...].

And one of new counters this year, Annette, sent this clip of herring at a pool near Middle Pond [you can supply your own audio].

So Where Are The Herring?
Not in Marstons Mills - that's for sure! Bycatch gets a lot of blame [our river herring that get caught while fishing for something else] and there's very little data on how much of this goes on.

I've started a dialogue with several groups more knowledgeable in this subject then I and while I'm sure they'll have no definitive answer, I'm hoping to be able to provide some likely possibilities. For those who wish to learn more, we'll provide links to relevant information when we find them.

And we'll also work to get more details on the results from other nearby runs.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Very Disappointing Numbers ~ River Day 2011

I've been slow to make a post here, because I'm having trouble believing this year's counts...

As the numbers show here, the counts so far have been our lowest since we started 5 years ago, and low by a very big number.

Through the 11th day of the run, we've counted just 39 fish. That's 96% below the average for the first 11 days of the prior 5 years. And this year should have included many returning young from 2008 - the best year we had since we started counting in 2006.

We've checked the other side of Route 28 [opposite Mill Pond] to see if getting past there was an issue: there were no fish in the pool just before Route 28. Three weeks ago, the Natural Resources Division had checked the entire river, from Route 28 down to Prince Cove, looking for obstructions [there were none] and they are checking again now as I write.

Five days ago, I personally visited the runs in Mashpee, Sandwich, Bournedale and Plymouth, spending 15-20 minutes at each location and saw a grand total of 5-6 fish. But I hear that some runs are having very good numbers, like Weymouth. The difficulty I have writing this blog is there isn't an easy way to find out what's happening at other runs on a timely basis - so I can't effectively compare what we're experiencing.

Real-Time Posting Of Numbers [as if we really needed this...]

I've been making a number of enhancements to the spreadsheets that we use in counting to save time and improve accuracy. Instead of me reviewing each counter's spreadsheet and posting those numbers into a summary sheet, now when a counter posts a count, it is reflected here immediately. Below, we have a counter using her iPad at Mill Pond to post a count [yes, another zero].

River Day 2011

River Day is Sunday, May 1 at Burgess Park on Route 149, and the Program can be seen here. All of the 2011 counters are invited to a FREE lunch - the least we can do for counting all those zeros. See me under the tent for a coupon. I'll also be doing a talk on anadromous fish at Mill Pond at 11:00 and you can catch a bus from Burgess Park [I'll bring a box of Kleenex].

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Herring Are Running But Slowly...

The herring were first spotted in late Sunday and we commenced counting Monday morning.

The counts so far have been somewhat small, which is a little abnormal as once they start they unusually get right into it. We'll start publishing actual counts in a day or two.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Water Slowing Down ~ Still Too Cold

The water has slowed down considerably since Wednesday's storm. Compare the video below [taken 11:30 today] with that of the April 13th post.

The water level in the pipe in about 1/3 of the way up now - it's about 1/4 of the way in normal conditions.

But that's not the only thing that's keeping the herring away - the water temperature is only 47.8F, short of the 51F that they prefer.

So we won't see anything for a day or two at least.

So what do the herring do when there's an obstruction:
In the March 27th post I explained what happened in 2010 with the heavy rains, and that I did research as to what the herring would do when confronted with an obstruction in their migratory path.

The answer is that while they have a natural tendency to return to their natal pond/stream, they will not give up if they can't get there. They'll instead go back down stream and find another one closeby that others are migrating to.

So does this mean that those offspring will return to that other pond instead to spawn? We'll find out in 3-4 years when those born in 2010 return.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Water Is Receding ~ Any Day Now...

Things have quieted down quite a bit at Mill Pond when we made a visit at 4:30pm today.

The water level in the pipe going under Route 28 is about 1/2 way up the pipe [on Wednesday after the heavy rain it was almost to the top]. I expect the herring to arrive any day now.

Note to counters: Wait for an email from me for instruction as to when to start counting. Since we lost a whole week of scheduled counts, I may have to ask that you 'return' them so we can use you at a later time. We'll ask you in the email we send you. Those haven't been scheduled yet will receive them early Saturday [we we're waiting on some stragglers].

About the swans: Several people asked what happened with the swans I wrote about on March 18th. Well the kids are gone and the hen can be seen in the video below building her nest in the very northerly end of the pond [out of public view].

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Heavy Rain Delays The Run

With several inches of rain today, the amount of water going through the ladder at Mill Pond will certainly delay the herring.

The water level in the pond is 2" above normal right now and with an ~5 acre pond that's about 275,000 gallons in just the pond itself that needs to drain, never mind the water constantly flowing in from the river for probably another 24 hours.

Our counters have been on standby since Monday and this will add a few days for sure to the wait.

The two videos below taken at 5:15pm today show the herring ladder area and specifically the conduit going under Route 28. There's no way the herring could swim 180+ feet though that...

The hay bales placed along the road for the Route 149 & 28 construction failed to contain the washout today, which completely covered the area cleaned just last Saturday with mud.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Herring Due Soon & A Spring Cleaning

A couple of scouts have been spotted, but no quantity yet. We're guessing the herring will arrive on Monday or Tuesday and we'll be finalizing the schedules for the first two weeks of the run tomorrow.

Several counters spent their Saturday morning making the herring run at Mill Pond presentable for our upcoming visitors - both aquatic and human.

Charlie Thifault clearing root growth in one of the steps in the ladder.

Over 15 bags of leaves and twigs to be recycled [sans the plastic bags, of course].

A Marstons Mills Gothic:
[L-R] John Dowling, Judy Galvin, Pieter & Tom Burgess, Charlie Thifault [missing from photo: Shirley Eastman]

Friday, April 8, 2011

That Persistent, Perennial, Precursor...

I've lived right beside Mill Pond for 10 years now and have developed a pretty good sense of the events and cycles that occur at the pond and the behavior of the swans, the blue herons, migrating birds, osprey, turtles, frogs & toads, owls, etc, etc.

I learn more and more as time goes by, but one thing I'm certain of is this: the only time of the year that the aptly-named Herring Gull is on Mill Pond is when the herring are running - and the gulls arrive on Mill Pond exactly when the herring do.

What's even nicer about this is that I don't even have to look for the gulls, as I can simply just listen for them. And that unmistakable screech is notice to me to get the folks out to start countin'.

Now sometimes the gulls will show up a few days early and kind of just poke around, but there isn't any noise, because there's to nothing to fight over. But when the herring arrive (yum!) the fighting and associated screeching begins, because as with many animals, the easiest way to find food is to try to steal it from one who's already found it.

So we have a few gulls poking around the pond today, and they're quiet as expected. But my guess is that within a couple of days two things will happen: there'll be the sound of screeching gulls and we'll be counting herring...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Scheduling Well Underway; Cleanup On Saturday

We're well on our way to getting the scheduling done, at least for the first two weeks.

But were very short on help this year, with 5 of our last year counters out for medical and other reasons - so please volunteer here if you can help us count. If you know of someone who might be interested, please tell them about it and we can even work with folks who have no access to the Internet.

We're checking the water temperature 2-3 times a day at Mill Pond and today at 11am it was 46F which is pretty cool - the Alewives, which migrate first, like ~51F and the Bluebacks like ~57F.

But a bigger picture shows that the ocean water temperature posted by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] at Woods Hole being 41.7F at 7am this morning, which is below the historical average of 44F for April 1-15. The NOAA website isn't working this morning, but we're going to look back at what the historical temperatures were at Woods Hole when the Herring started running here in prior years to see if there is a correlation. It may be that the Herring will tolerate a colder ocean temperature while approaching their natal pond, but not start migrating until the higher 51F is reached, or perhaps the ocean needs to be at least 51F as well for them to even approach.

The Herring Run viewing area at Routes 28 & 149 needs a good cleaning. If you'd like to help doing this for 30-60 minutes on Saturday [April 9] at 10am, please let us know here by checking Herring Counting Program and put 'will help cleaning' in the Comments box. Thanks!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Scheduling Process Started

Everyone who has helped out in the Herring Counting Program in prior years was asked if they could help count again this year. This email went out late yesterday and we've have received 15 replies so far, which is good!

We'll be using the same Google Docs spreadsheets for scheduling/counting as we did in 2010, with things being a little easier this year as the counter will not have to have a Google account or sign-in to access their spreadsheet.

As we did last year, we'll use the early responders and schedule just the first couple of weeks. Then as more people respond we'll schedule the rest of the run.

What Happened In 2010?

I'll gather and chart some statistics sometime over the next few weeks, but my posts at the time [April 2010] highlighted my concern about the volume and velocity of the water traveling through the pipe under Route 28 from Mill Pond. This was due to the very heavy rains we had in late March and early April, which I feel was too much for the herring to overcome.

The flaw in the design of the herring run at Mill Pond is that while there is a ladder to allow the herring to climb the change in elevation, there's no way to control the volume [and therefore the velocity] of water that travels through the pipe used by the fish. And the pipe is 175+ long and there's no pool for the herring to rest/regroup.

Over the winter I did a bit of research about the velocity that herring can overcome and what they do when confronted with this [or by some other obstruction]. That will be the topic of a later post.

We're going to watch this element of the run this year very closely. If you want to help out in this velocity testing, please let me know [we need someone at both ends of the pipe]. We'll do this only if we get heavy rains, but I'll be keeping a daily log of the height of the water traveling through the pipe.

If there's an engineer out there who could tell me how to figure this out [with the diameter of pipe, inches of water, change in elevation, and whatever other input might be needed] I'd appreciate it - as that would be much easier then the current method of timing ping-pong balls...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Preparing For 2011 Count

We'll be starting the process of gearing up for the count in the next two weeks.

We'll contact all of those who have counted in the past, and the procedure for counting will be essentially the same as last year.

We're always looking for help in counting, if you are interested or you know of someone who is, please contact us here. If they are not computer-literate, they can still help out as we have folks who can be their cyberbuddy and do the online work for them.

This picture, which was taken today, is of one of the swans who is strangely wandering on the grass beside Mill Pond [they almost never leave the water].

It's one of the three cygnets that were born last May and has wintered in the pond.

In March, the adults start thinking about a new brood and they literally kick-out last year's crop before they start building a new nest.

This one on the lawn probably thinks his parents were 'just kidding' when they chased it out, but if things happen as in prior years, its sayonara!

The young will live together in a colony of sometimes 100's of swans [there's a small one in Popponesset Bay] and when they reach maturity in 3-4 years, will pair up and find a place of their own.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Counting Over for 2010 - With Disappointing Results

[Note: This post was republished today as there was data issue with our blog account. It was originally posted a couple of days prior].

We ended the counting for 2010 at the end of the day Tuesday May, 4th.

The total number of herring that were counted for this year is shown below, with the final counts from the prior years included as well:

2010 ~ 478
2009 ~ 1,332
2008 ~ 5,232
2007 ~ 1,741
2006 ~ 719

Clearly, 2010 was a very disappointing herring migration.

Again, I'd like to thank all who counted this year. I know it wasn't much fun with all of those zeros. But as I told many of you who came to River Day last Sunday,"zero is better then nothing" as we at least know what has occurred.

We'll post the total projection from these counts when we get that number back from the state. And if we can get them, some comparisons with the results from other runs.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Second Wave, But Nothing Major...

This past week has shown a 'second wave' - a distinctive event we've seen in prior years as well. After 6 days of counting just 15 herring, then there were 5 days with a total of 139.

This may well be an initial migration of alewives that is followed a couple of weeks later by a migration of blueback herring. Perhaps next year we'll attempt to identify these.

Total herring counted at Mill Pond through Day # 24 of the run for this and prior years are:

2010 ~ 437
2009 ~ 1,332
2008 ~ 4,647
2007 ~ 1,737
2006 ~ 598

Note: The above numbers are just the fish we counted and not a projection of the total herring.

If you attend River Day [Sunday, May 2, 2010, 10:00 ~ 3:00, Burgess Park, Route 149. Marstons Mills] we'll have the counts of this year and prior years on display at the Marstons Mills River Watershed Association's table under the tent.

Also at 11:00 there will be a tour/talk at the Mill Pond Herring Run and another at the Upper Flume at Middle Pond at 11:30.

See the complete River Day program here.

Note to our counters: be sure to stop by our table for a coupon for a free lunch!

And please post your counts as soon as you can so we can get a read of what is going on. We may be close to ending our counting for this year.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Who Ever Said 'No News Is Good News'?

It's been a week since my last post and it isn't good news...

To date at Mill Pond we've taken 142 10 minute counts. Of those, 92 counts were 0 [63%], 45 counts had 1-10 fish and just 5 counts had more than 10 fish for a total of 287 fish counted through Day # 18 of the run.

Counts in prior years through Day # 18 were:

2009 ~ 1,278
2008 ~ 4,575
2007 ~ 1,596
2006 ~ 464

While there was some concern about the velocity of the water in the pipe under Route 28, several views of the lagoon south of that pipe don't show any fish congregating - that is, the heavy rain we had doesn't appear to be an obstacle.

Note to our counters: As I said in my email to you, please don't be discouraged by all these zeros. Having an accurate count, even if it's disappointing, is the important thing. Thanks!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Very Disappointing Numbers So Far...

I haven't made many posts this past week as I've been trying to get a read on what's been transpiring - and it hasn't been very good.

This is our 5th year of counting so we have some degree of history and we have complete counts as of Day # 7 of the 2010 run. I'm going to compare this first 7 days of the run to prior years in the chart below to demonstrate what's going on. I know that all of these numbers can be confusing, but there are so many variables we have to apply some math to what have we observed.

The table below shows the quantity that was counted through Day # 7 in prior years [these counts were taken at Mill Pond]:

Compared Percent Done Total If 2010 Total Counted Total Counted

Count To 2010 On This Day Were this Year This Year Vs Projected
2010 200

2009 741 -73% 65% 308 1,332 -1,024
2008 980 -80% 21% 976 5,232 -4,256
2007 625 -68% 39% 509 1,741 -1,232
2006 326 -28% 54% 370 720 -350

The column Compared To 2010 shows the percent difference that 2010 is to those prior years. Ex: The 200 in 2010 is 73% less then what we counted through Day # 7 in 2009.

The Percent Done On This Day shows what percent of the total counted in that year were counted through day # 7. Ex: On day # 7 in 2007, we had counted 39% of the total counted for 2007.

The Total If 2010 Were This Year column shows what the total for that year would have projected to using the 2010 count to-date. Ex: On Day # 7 in 2006, we were 54% complete. The 2010 to-date count of 200 extrapolated by 54% projects to 370 counted.

The Total Counted This Year column shows what the actual final count for that year. Ex: In 2007 we counted 1,741 fish in total.

The Total Counted Vs Projected column shows the difference between the two columns to the left. Ex: If in 2008, had we counted 200 fish on Day # 7 of the run, we would have ended up counting only 976 fish in 2008, or 4,245 less fish then there actually were in 2008.

The question is: has the 2010 run actually started in earnest or is this some abnormally we're experiencing, with just a dribble of fish before the rush. If it is the former, any way you look at it, this may be a very disappointing year...

Note: Why do I make these charts? Because lots of people ask me 'How's the run this year'? and then when I tell them, they ask why do I think that, and I say 'It's complicated'.

And we must apply caution to these charts [being just one week done]. Look at how the column Percent Done On This Day varies from year to year: In 2008 we were just 1/5 done after one week whereas at the same relative day in 2009 we were 2/3 done - a huge difference.

Just the same, my gut feeling is not very good.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Settling Down To A Normal Process

After chasing around like a mad-mad for two days, we have the counts through Sunday covered at both locations and will work on the remaining weeks over the next couple of days. The link 'Schedules and Counts' at the top right now points to the 2010 spreadsheet.

There seems to be some high counts for this early in the run, one of 42 in 10 minutes yesterday [these haven't been posted yet to the spreadsheet].

The Osprey have been stirring things up, making huge splashes as they dive for fish, feet first.

Our picture today is of Sara who is up from New Jersey visiting relatives. She stopped by Mill Pond with her parents at 3:15 today, so I handed her a hand clicker and she did my scheduled count - result: 9 herring.

Special thanks to Emory, Ernie, Mary, Meriellen, Jane, Al, Lorne, Dawn, Joan, Bob and especially our new counters Bill & Sandy - a couple who'll do 18 counts this week. These folks pitched in and salvaged out counting program for 2010 by covering this entire week at 2 locations on very short notice.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Scrambling To Cover Counts

We were caught off guard with the early arrival of the herring and have been chasing folks to count this week as we didn't any paperwork with their availability in before today. We've been focusing on getting just this week covered and will do the remaining weeks as a separate effort.

Today [04-05], the water temp was 58F, which is plenty warm, and there were 20-30 herring in the pool at Mill Pond at 1:00, so things seem to be going well.

The picture is from Easter Sunday with some kids getting a close-up look. Out of sight behind the peninsula that is in the background, the Mute Swan is on her nest - so we'll have cygnets the first week of May

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Herring Have Arrived!

First herring spotted at Mill Pond on Saturday, April 3, 2010, and we started counting Sunday April 4.

This is the earliest date we've recorded since we started counting. The last four years were:
  • 2009 - 04-19
  • 2008 - 04-10
  • 2007 - 04-20
  • 2006 - 04-12
And while the water temperature was warm enough for the past week or so [it was 57F yesterday - they like at least 51F] the abnormally high rainfall the last couple of weeks most likely resulted in the velocity of the water traveling through the 175'+ pipe under Route 28 being too strong for the herring to overcome.

The amount of water going over the spillway at Mill Pond decreased dramatically over the last few days.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Prepareing For The 2010 Run!

We're getting ready for the 2010 migration and will soon be asking all who have counted before or who have signed-up to count to get the process rolling again.

Most folks work online directly into spreadsheets we prepare individually for each of them. We also have a few folks who work offline and we work with them over the phone.

The first step is for the counters to indicate their availability and preferences and then on this end we prepare a master schedule [last year's completed one is here] which feeds each of the counter's spreadsheets indicating when and where they are to count and then it's off to the run!

You can read about the details of this process here.

Note to fishermen: oh yes, we know why you come here... and we're happy that there's a secondary benefit to all of our work - letting you guys know when the strippers are in!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Counting For 2009 Is Over!

With almost all zeros for the last two days, we've ended the counting for 2009.

We're deeply indebted to all of our counters - we did over 450 counts and missed only a couple - great work by all involved!!

We'll publish the details of the count in our next Newsletter. Join our Emailing list at the link at the right to receive it.

Note: All of the counters are automatically on this list, no need to join again.

Watching The Counting Results Closely

We're racking up a mostly zeros now and if this goes on for another day or two, we'll call it quits.

We're now in the 25th Day of the Run this year, and as posted earlier, we ended in prior years as follows:
  • 2008 - Day 36
  • 2007 - Day 23
  • 2006 - Day 27
2008 was by far the biggest Run we've recorded - in both volume and duration, so realizing that 2009 won't be anything like 2008, the years 2007 and 2006 suggest we're about done.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Depends Upon How You Look At It...

While my last post lamented over the sudden drop-off in counts, there is a bright side to the numbers!

If you click on the "schedules and counts" link at the right, then on the "MillPond.YearToYear" tab, you'll see that the 2009 "Run Cumulative Count" for day 19 [the last completely counted day as of this writing] was 1,288 Herring.

Compared to 2008 [4,577], that's not very good - a drop of 3,289 Herring counted, or -72%. BUT, compared to 2006 [481] it's a increase of 807 Herring counted or +167% - and that's great news!

Why? Because the Herring returning in 2009 have nothing to do with the Herring that were here in 2008 and 2007. Herring are at least 3 years old before they reach maturity and return to spawn, meaning that the Herring in the 2009 migration are the offspring of those in the 2006 migration.

Granted, some of those returning in 2009 may be 4 years old [and older], but almost all of my research puts the return at 3 years of age. So, we should be pleased that the 2006 offspring are returning in significantly higher numbers!

Separately, we're monitoring the counts very closely now, as we'll try to end the counting as soon as it looks like the migration is over, so as to not waste our counter's time.

But a look at 2006 shows 2 surges after some very low counts. And, perhaps we stopped just a little too soon in 2008.

We know that many of our counters are ringing in zeros right now, but if we didn't count them, we wouldn't know they were zero - and knowing it's zero is equally as important as knowing it was, say 100.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Disappointing Counts...

The bottom has fallen out of the numbers at Mill Pond starting Wednesday 04-29 through Sunday 05-03.

While there are a couple of counts not yet posted, most of the above days have less then 10 Herring counted for the entire day [that's just what we count, not what the total number of Herring for these days].

Don't know if there will be a second wind, as in prior years, but we'll keep counting for awhile yet.

We're now in Day 18 of the Run this year and the Run ended in prior years as follows:
  • 2008 - Day 36
  • 2007 - Day 23
  • 2006 - Day 27
But interestingly, on Day 18 of prior years, here's what Percent Complete the Run was:
  • 2008 - 87%
  • 2007 - 92%
  • 2006 - 64%
We have completed the counts through Day 14 of this year with a total of 1,242 Herring counted. In prior years the number counted through Day 14 were as follows:
  • 2008 - 3,787
  • 2007 - 1,448
  • 2006 - 400

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nothing Slips By OUR Counters...

William counting at 4:00 today at the sluiceway at Middle Pond.

We call this location The Jail House, because the grate that you see in the photo is the door from an old jail cell, recycled. It's on hinges and opens to allow work on the control boards.

This control gate manages the amount of water entering the sluiceway, which is shown below. This provides passage for the Herring from the Marstons Mills River - which is 1,100 ft distant - to Middle Pond.

This sluiceway was built in 1850 for $3,600 [that's about $73,000 today].

Charts By Year

The charts below present the count volumes by day at Mill Pond for the last 3 years, and they don't show much consistency. We suspect that the second peak that occurs in about the forth week might be Blueback Herring [versus the earlier arriving Alewives] and this year we plan to catch and release a sampling to determine this. It's almost impossible to tell by looking into the water from above.

Top: 2008 ~ Middle: 2007 ~ Bottom: 2006Add Video

Steady Volume At Mill Pond

Through Day 7 of the run [04-25], the count is 24% greater than the average of the last three years.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Some Boring Numbers...

The only reasonable way to make a projection of how things are progressing while the Herring Run is active would be to look at prior years to see what "percent complete" those years were on the same relative day of the run.

So, for example, on 04-23-2009 we were in Day 5 of the run.

Below shows what percent complete we were on Day 5 in prior years. This is computed by dividing the fish counted through Day 5 by what was counted in total for that year. In the brackets is the projection of this year's count to date [through Day 5] using the percent done for each of those years:
  • 2008 - 15% [2,734]
  • 2007 - 31% [1,303]
  • 2006 - 37% [1,092]
This shows quite a range, which demonstrates how wrong you can be when you have such little history to base projections upon.

A more reliable predictor may be to use a composite of all the prior years. This would be done by adding together the final total of all Herring counted in the prior years and dividing that into the sum of just [in this example] the first 5 days of all prior years.

When we do that [1,584 / 7,693] the resultant "Composite Percent Done" is 20.6%. With this year's cumulative count through Day 5 of 404, that projects out to 1,962 Herring to be counted this year [counted, not total Herring].

This 1,962 is 1,238 more than the average of all prior years counted though Day 5, or 37% better than that average. Note that these numbers will most likely fluctuate as this year's run progresses.

This approach is based upon precious little history [just 3 years now], but may prove to be more useful as we accumulate more data. There may be more precise methods as well with more data. And each year doesn't unfold like the prior year's either, with many factors affecting when and in what numbers the Herring arrive.

I do all of this calculating to answer the frequently asked question [which now seems solely directed at me]: "How's the run doing?" So, now I can say, for example, "Through Day 5, 37% better than the average of the last 3 years."

You can follow these numbers being calculated as the run progresses by clicking on the "schedules and counts" link at the right, then clicking on the "MillPond.YearToYear" tab.

Coming next year: Projecting what the total number that the Herring migration will be, not just the counts.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Increasing Volumes, But Still Early

Counted 82 herring in 10 minutes at Mill Pond at 5:00 today as the daily volumes continue to grow. The record for a 10 minute count was 241 on day 11 of the run last year [we're on day 7 today].

Most high counts occur between 3:00 - 5:00 [look at the hourly percents at the bottom of the spreadsheet linked to at "schedules and counts" at the right]. So if you want to watch the Herring at their best that would be the time. I'm going to stick my neck out and say the peak days will be April 29 through May 1.

All counts have been scheduled through 05-23. That's 35 days in total, counting 9 times a day at 2 locations for a total of 630 counts.

We have a couple of counters that we're holding in reserve to cover unexpected problems, so while a couple of weeks ago we were concerned about have enough people, we're in great shape now. Yesterday I found Lorna at the Mill Pond Herring Run - she's going to count 80 times!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Early Numbers Disappointing Vs Prior Years

While we're still very early into the run, here's where we are after 4 days compared to the same relative day in prior years:
  • 2009 = 266
  • 2008 = 652 [2009 is down 59% from this]
  • 2007 = 485 [2009 is down 45% from this]
  • 2006 = 266 [strangely, exactly the same]
Be careful about drawing any conclusions from these numbers, as they are most likely going to change in the upcoming days.

Note that these numbers are just what has been counted, not a projection of the total Herring that has passed to date.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Notice To Counters...

A reminder that only some counters have received a schedule as yet and that we are [right now] just scheduled through 04-25 [with a couple of counters out longer then that].

If you haven't yet received an email instructing you to count, you won't be counting until at least 04-26.

Schedules will go out later today or tomorrow, but they may be just for the next couple of weeks, with an update to follow. We have to approach the scheduling this incremental way as a number of folks [~10] can't count this year for one reason or another and we are scrambling to find counters for the later weeks.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Emergency Repairs To Sluiceway

Yesterday [April 20], we had to make emergency repairs to the sluiceway at Middle Pond. A washout had breached the sidewall causing the soil on the bank to wash into the sluiceway.

Adjustments are being made to the water entering the sluiceway. This is a trial and error process that may take a few days to get running right.

But there were hundreds of Herring heading making it through OK, traveling onward to Middle Pond.

Not enough counts in to draw any preliminary guesses from, but some of the numbers look pretty good. The first few days are always a little sporadic.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Notice To Counters...

Only some counters have been scheduled and they all have been contacted by email today.

We've scheduled out only through 04-25, so if you haven't received an email today about counting this week, then you won't be counting until next Monday [04-26] at the earliest.

Additional schedules will go out in a few days and they may be also be only through a certain date in the future.

The reason for this approach is that I need to use those people who have already completed their paperwork to fill all the current counting needs and then fill later weeks with the late paperwork and the new counters.

We're looking for additional help to count in future weeks.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

They've Arrived!!

At 2:00 today, Herring in good quantity at Mill Pond.

Note To Our Counters:
We'll start counting Sunday morning [April 19].

We'll use the standby counters for the first day or two and then all other schedules will be invoked [though you all may not be counting right away].

Please watch for an email that your schedule has been completed!

The Sentinels Of Mill Pond

This is the first day the gulls have been here, in position and waiting. A sure sign the Herring are coming very soon, perhaps this afternoon or tomorrow.

Below is Haley, who stopped by for a look today, and also some visitors from Falmouth pausing on their way down Cape.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Still Nothing To Report

Today is a beautiful day...
The sky is blue...
The air has that fresh smell of spring...
The sluiceway has been repaired...
The water temperature is just right...
The counters are standing by...
The osprey are anxious...
The gulls are waiting too...
Yours truly is checking 3-4 times a day...
People are stopping by Mill Pond, looking, waiting...
Everyone reading this Blog is wondering too...

Where ARE they???

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lonely At The Ladder

Nothing to report, water at 58F at 3:00 this day.

A Note To Our Counters:
We haven't sent out schedules yet as we didn't want to begin the counting until the Herring started [pretty good idea, huh?].

We have a couple of flexible people that are standing by to count on short notice and we'll use them to cover the first couple of days when the migration starts. [Yes - they should get a life]

As soon as it starts we'll get your schedule out to you. So this means that you won't have to count until at least a day or two after you see a post here that says we've started. Sorry to keep things up in the air, but this is the best use of people's time.

Also, we've had more than a couple of folks that will be unable to count this year and we're going to have to find replacements. We do recruiting at the run at Mill Pond while it's active and have had good success finding additional help that way.

But this means that those who have already submitted their preferences and availability will be "front-loaded" into the first couple of weeks [instead of spread out over the entire run] and the new recruits will be used in later weeks.

BTW: Don't be afraid to ask someone you know to volunteer to help in the counting!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fishless In The Mills

Checked at 11:00, 2:00 & 4:00 - water temperature was mid 50's+, but still no Herring.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Emptiness At Mill Pond...

Today at 12:45 the temperature was 47, not a Herring anywhere...

Checked yesterday at 12:00 and 3:30. The temperature was 48-49, with no fish in sight.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Checked Mill Pond today at 11:00, 2:00 & 4:00. Water temp was 47-49, no Herring observed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Nothing New...

Checked at 10:30 and 12:30: water temperature is good [55], but no Herring.

Traveled further down-stream to some gathering pools, no activity.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

No Herring In Sight

We've been checking several times a day now, as the water temperature at Mill Pond has been in the mid to high 50's, which is above the 51 that the Alewives like.

But this reading is at Mill Pond and doesn't reflect what it is down-stream, like at Prince Cove.

A reliable precursor is the screeching of the aptly name Herring Gull. The only time they're heard at Mill Pond is when the Herring are migrating. These gulls know the locations where the fish are most vulnerable [where the water is shallow] and can be seen and heard fighting over the good spots on the first day the Herring arrive.

So far, we have 38 people that have enrolled to count this year. We haven't scheduled them as yet [will in the next day or so] as we don't want to waste their time until the Herring are running. We have a handful of counters that are ready on short notice to cover the first couple of days when they show.

We will always need help in counting and other tasks, so if you're interested or know of anyone that is, click on the link at the right.

We'll be updating this blog on a regular basis now as the Herring are due any day. Their arrival dates in prior years were:
  • 2008 - April 10
  • 2007 - April 20
  • 2006 - April 12

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A-h-h-h! Spring Is In The Air!

We're starting the planning process for counting herring for 2009 and will have a meeting Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 4:00, at the Burgess House, 559 Route 149, Marstons Mills, MA. [map]

This meeting is not specifically on the Counting Project, but more about checking the river for any impediments and resolving them before the run. All are welcome to attend, especially if you'd like to help in the [light] physical work that may need to be done to prepare for the migration.

The Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission has continued the moratorium on the taking of herring though 2011 [story here].

We'll be running the count pretty much the same as 2008 with the collection of some additional data, like water temperature.

We're always looking for counters [we did 684 counts last year]. If interested click here to get more information.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Counting To Cease May 17

The daily counts are down to a trickle and there's little sense in counting any longer, so we'll stop at the end of the day Saturday May 17.

Many thanks to all that have helped in the program this year and it's gone very smoothly - a credit to all of you that did the work!

I'll be sending a newsletter out recapping what's transpired and if I've communicated to you via email in the past then you'll receive it automatically.

If you'd like to get on the email list for the newsletter go here, then click on the link beneath Herring Counting Project, complete the form and put "newsletter only" in the comments section.

I'll post the final projections here as soon as I receive them back from the state [in about a month or so] but the regular postings on this blog are just about done for the year.

See you in March 2009!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Winding down...

Volume is really trailing off now and we'll perhaps stop counting the end of this week or there abouts.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Up And Down Counts

Volumes are up and down on a day-to-day basis.

At Mill Pond there was a spike on Wednesday May 7 of at least 215 counted [a couple of counts not yet posted] and then a big drop-off the next day down to at least 78 [also a couple of counts not yet posted].

It hard to see a trend here - it always is when you look too closely...

Monday, May 5, 2008

They're B-a-c-k!

An ad-hoc count taken at Mill Pond Station today at 4pm yielded 61 herring in 10 minutes, which is three times the median count taken for this time of day through the first 18 Days of the Run.

And although some counts haven't yet been posted, 61 almost matches the total that was counted for all of the times we counted in the last 7 days.

So, we'll be counting for a while longer...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Huge Drop-Off In Volume

Things seem to have came to a screeching halt on Sunday, April 27th.

If you look at the spreadsheet with the numbers for the run [the link at the right at 'Monitor the progress of the run'], you'll see that the counts at Mill Pond Station dropped from 100's a day to almost none, and then with a small pickup in volume a couple of days later.

This could be due heavy rainfall and cool temps we've had. I've been looking at historical patterns on these points to see if there is any correlation to that and this year volumes and in prior years as well. If you're interested, the site Weather Underground maintains some very detailed statistics - see Cape Cod Airfield's numbers.

I've also done some work on the velocity of the water traveling through the pipe under Route 28. The students at Barnstable Horace Mann Charter School did some work on this last year and the concern is that this could be an impediment to the migration. This velocity increases significantly during periods of heavy precipitation.

We'll see what the next few days tell us...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Attention All Counters!!

River Day will be held Sunday, May 4th at Burgess Park on Route 149 in Marstons Mills and you can view the schedule of the day's events here. We invite everyone to visit us at our table to learn more about the counting program, the herring migration and the Marstons Mills River in general.

AND, to reward all of those who have counted in 2008, you'll receive lunch on us! Just pick up a coupon good for the lunch at River Day that's put on by the Liberty Hall Club.

AND, all who have counted for us in 2008 are eligible to enter the Herring Counting Contest. Just fill out the free entry form and guess the total number of herring. This total is what the projection of the counts will be, NOT the total of the counts we've taken. The person with the closest guess wins $250.00! [in case of a tie, the prize will be split].

If you are a counter and can't attend Sunday you can still enter the contest up until May 30, when the counting ends - just contact me.

This contest is open only to those who have counted in 2008, so your chances of winning are great - and they'll be even better for some other counter if you don't enter!

The counting is going very smoothly with 324 counts taken [6,772 herring] across both counting stations - and only 2 counts missed so far.

Through Day 18 of the run, at just Mill Pond, we've counted 3,214 more fish than last year or a 185% increase. [These numbers are the fish counted - not the projections of those counts].

However, volume is decreasing each day and it's hard to guess when it will end. In 2006 it dropped way off on Day 27 and in 2007 it did the same on Day 21. [See the link at the top right to see the counts and numbers over the past couple of years].

Friday, April 25, 2008

Continued Strong Volume And Great Projection!

The counts have been quite strong and steady over the last few days.

So, with my regular disclaimer about reading too much into these projections, here's how the counts to-date at Mill Pond could be interpreted:

Assuming a "Percent Done" of 56% [where we were on Day 11 in 2007] and with a cumulative count through Day 11 in 2008 of 2,485, that projects to a total count for 2008 of 4,424 or 2,683 more fish counted [in total] in 2008 over 2007, an increase of 154%.

These are projections of counts only [not of the total fish]. And I'm using my formula for forecasting - which is just that - my formula. So, it will be interesting when 2008 is all counted to see how accurate my projections were during the count.

In my next Post I'll have charts for these numbers and it will clearly show the change in the "curve" of 2006 compared to 2007: if you look at the spreadsheet for the Mill Pond.YearToYear numbers [link at top right], you'll see that on Day 11 in 2006 we were 55% Done, very close to the Day 11 for 2007 of 56% Done. But if you look ahead you'll see that on Day 21 they were 68% and 99% respectively.

So this shows the dangers of trying to do these projections: on Day 21 in 2006 we had about another 1/3 to go, in 2007 we were almost finished.

When we have more history, we could combine the historical activity and have a "blended" curve, but I can think of a few problems with that. Any ideas about that from anyone out there? Is there anyone out there?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Huge Numbers Today!!

The 4Pm count at Mill Pond yielded 241 herring in a 10 minute period - a record since we've started counting in 2006 and almost twice the one set just yesterday.

Al Baker reports that things seem a bit smoother at the Middle Pond station where there had been issues the last few days with the herring backing up trying to make the last step into Middle Pond.

Four Osprey were circling Mill Pond at 4Pm.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Count Goes On!

The counting is going very smoothly with 24 counters working right now and another 3-4 in the works to count in later weeks. We still need help if you can spare 10 minutes a day for 15-20 days [you can pick your times].

As of today we have about 275 counts that are not covered [see link at top right, then the columns 'Not Covered' and 'Cumulative Not']. What we don't know now is when the run will stop so we'll schedule through the end of May and then call everyone off when it ends.

Above is Jackie [5] of Cotuit who was commandeered to help count when she happened by the Mill Pond Herring Run on April 19 at 1PM with her mother and her sister Sammy [7], who did the first five minutes [below].

Most of our counters are a quite a bit older [these kids were carefully supervised by your's truly who had that scheduled count] and most are from the Mills with several from Cotuit, Osterville and West Barnstable.

The average counter takes 20-25 counts over the 6 week counting period.

This afternoon at 3pm [April 19] we counted 126 in a 10 minute period, which was the largest count since we started counting in 2006. The next highest was 109 on May 5, 2007.

The Osprey were expertly working Mill Pond today, circling and diving for herring, then flying south towards Prince Cove where I've heard they are nesting. They are here most afternoons now.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Volume Up 42% Over 2007!

The actual counts [not projections] through day 5 of the run are 42% higher than last year: 772 vs 545. And back in 2006, there were a total of just 266 through day 5. And there are still a couple of counts for day 5 of this year that have not been posted as yet - but they are expected to be small as they are in the morning.

This isn't predictive of the entire run, just the actual counts to-date. There's no indication at this point that this will be representative of what will happen in future days or how long the run will last. Also, projections made in the first few days can be volatile - like were we right about when day 1 occurred - this year and last?

This volatility smooths out as we get more days under our belt, but just the same it's encouraging...

The counts are posted in a spreadsheet that you can see by clicking on the link at the top right of this Blog. In there you'll find a tab for each counting location [Mill Pond and Middle Pond] and a year-to-year summary for Mill Pond [this is the first year for Middle Pond Counting - no prior year numbers yet].

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Just found out that people who signed up to help with the counting had their offer drift off into cyberspace!

If you offered to help count at MarstonsMills.org before April 15, 2008 please do so again.

My apologies...

We should have some updated counts in a day or so, been busy scheduling those who responded late. Expect things to really pop later this week when temperatures go up.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Strong early volume...

Several signs are indicating a strong run for this year, compared to 2007 and 2006.

It's way too early to be certain, but the first few days have been the strongest in volume for the comparable period of the last two years. And the water temperature is still on the cool side with lots of cloudy weather that keeps it that way.

I've been a little slow getting numbers posted as we have several new counters still learning the process [but not Mary M, oh no] and I don't want to project a day unless I have like 6 or 7 counts.

Look for updated counts at the link at the at the top right of this page. In that spreadsheet are tabs for both locations [Mill Pond and Middle Pond].

The counters have been scheduled only through April 19 as I haven't heard back from several people yet and I'm getting a little concerned about having enough counters. I've "front-loaded" those that have replied hoping to find more counters for later weeks.

I'll be at Mill Pond tomorrow afternoon as there should be plenty of herring and plenty of people watching them [and me to trying to recruit them].

If you would like to help or know someone who would, please let me know! See the info at MarstonsMills.org.

Also, you can subscribe to this Blog and get each post sent to you. Click on the link at the very bottom of the blog to get updates to this Blog sent to your reader.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Herring have arrived!

We've been monitoring the run at Mill Pond several times a day and the first arrivals were seen this morning and with a noticeable volume.

Water temperature is 55F, which is just about right, with today's sunshine doing the trick.

We've started the counting operation as of mid-day.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Harbinger of Herring...

For the first time this year the extremely reliable precursor of the arrival of herring was spotted on Mill Pond - the aptly named Herring Gull!

Since I live beside Mill Pond and observe it year-round, I can tell you with certainty that the only time they are here is when the herring are running.

You can find them in two locations: at the top of the ladder where they just sit waiting for a herring to pass through the control gate [they fight over this spot] and also at the northerly end of the pond where the river enters - here a delta makes the water very shallow - and they just stand in the water waiting for a fish to go by.

Since the herring are most likely already in Prince Cove [scouts have been spotted just below Route 28] the gulls probably know this and since they aren't good at taking fish from open water, they come to Mill Pond and just wait for some easy pickings.

There were no herring in the run this morning, but I'd bet they are coming very soon...

The gulls, however, are completely upstaged by the Osprey. They put on an incredible show one afternoon last April when five were fishing at the same time at Mill Pond. It's amazing to watch them circle overhead and then when they spot a fish go into a feet-first dive into the water and then come up with a fish in their talons.

Stay posted here and we'll let you know when they're working Mill Pond this year.

Update: The water temperature here at 4:00pm was 44F - with a long ways to go before the herring will come.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Scouts have been spotted...

Al Baker [our own scout] reported this afternoon that there are a few herring present in the basin just south of Route 28 [at Route 149]. These herring are scouts themselves and are 'testing the waters' as they say.

We've planned a contingency to start counting this weekend if need be, but with the cold weather we've seen lately it's unlikely that they'll start in the next few days.

We'll be checking the water temperature regularly starting Friday April, 4th as well. Does anyone know at what water temperature we can expect some migration?

There's a new block on the top right of this Blog where you can monitor the progress of the herring run. For each of the two counting stations there is the Master Schedule that shows which counter is scheduled for which slot and also the Counting Results. These are the actual spreadsheets being used in the project. When you view them they'll say they are updated every 5 minutes, but for the time being [maybe next year] they don't reflect the counts as posted by the counters. And the Master Schedule shows just the counter's number and not their name [but we know who they are...].

The enrollment of counters has been progressing okay but and we're a little behind schedule with just 22 enrolled to-date for this year and with just Emory Anderson completing the preferences on his spreadsheet. You can see an example of a spreadsheet here.

We're waiting to hear back from the 30 or so others that have been contacted.

Where are you?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Preparing for the 2008 Count

We gearing up for the 2008 Count and are looking for additional counters as we plan to count at two locations this year.

If you'd like to help out, please visit MarstonsMills.org and click on the link Herring Counting Project.

More to follow soon...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Things are grinding to a halt...

The counts for the last few days have been mostly zeros, so we'll be terminating the counting program on May 23 instead of June 2 as originally planned.

I know I said that I'd post a graph comparing 2007 and 2006, but other tasks, like getting ready for River Day, took priority.

About 60 people entered the Herring Counting Contest today at River Day and the winner will receive a prize of $250. I'll post a list of the guesses in a few days.

I'll also post complete counting results when we have them back from the Division Of Marine Fisheries, which should be in a couple of weeks.

This 2007 counting program was a tremendous success and the online posting of counts save yours truly a tremendous amount of work. So, thanks again to all who participated!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Volume still strong

The counts are yielding relatively strong and steady numbers, with things still quiet in the morning and most activity in the late afternoon.

The second week of the run [April 29 - May 5] was stronger then the first week in total numbers counted.

This has been a noticeable change from 2006 where the second week faded away to almost nothing.

I'll post a chart in a day or so comparing this year to last.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Encouraging numbers, trends...

Compared to 2006, the herring migration [to date] has been different in several ways.

I say to date, however, because you really can't make an accurate assessment until it's all done, but these points are clear:
  1. The quantity is greater than last year: in 2006 the highest single 10 minute count was 60 herring [or 360/hour] and so far this year we've had a high count of 109 [or 654/hour].
  2. Many other counts are higher although not as strong as that peak number.
  3. The trend by day this year is quite different then 2006, when there was a noticeable drop-off after the first week. Except for a few relatively lighter days, this year it's been pretty steady from the beginning.
  4. The mornings have been very light, with most of the herring passing in mid to late afternoon, from 2:00 to 6:00 pm.
We have only last year to compare to, so it's hard interpret these trends and to make any meaningful predictions, except that in general terms, things look somewhat improved over 2006.

The whole program has been running quite smoothly and our counters have been doing a great job!!

Having them post their counts directly to their online spreadsheets saves a lot of work all around and allows us to post these timely observations.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The fish are jumping [well, they're swimming...]

At times on Monday, April 23, the herring were counted at the rate of several hundred an hour, which was a very welcome sight. If you want to see a lot of herring, the next couple of days will be one of the best times. The run is located here.

Some of our counters are posting their tallies right after taking their count, thus allowing me to provide the readers of this blog such timely information.

But it's still too early to project anything from the numbers so far, as we'll need a few more days of counting to be able to do any meaningful comparison to the 2006 run.

No, they aren't jumping: unlike salmon, which leap out of the water when migrating, herring swim as they move through each step in the ladder of the run. That's why it's so important that there be no obstructions in the flow of water and that the steps in the ladders be carefully designed to accommodate this trait.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The 2006 Run: Day By Day

This chart shows the 2006 herring run, with the daily counts projected to a daily total.

So if the overall trend is the same this year as it was in 2006, that means that the peak day this year will be 4 days after the first sighting.

The first sighting this year was on April 21, 2007. So therefore, the peak this year should occur about 4 days after that, or April 25/26 [just guessing, of course...].

Also, in 2006 50% of the total number of herring arrived in the first 5 days of the run.

If these trends are the same this year as last, and if you knew the daily counts this year and last, you could do a projection for this year, couldn't you? Yeah, you could, but we're not going to post the daily counts anywhere, because...

All of these numbers are intended to torment those that are planning to enter the contest to guess the total herring count this year. You can enter that contest on River Day [May 20, 2007] and win $250!

We'll toss out more help later on with additional numbers that will be totally useless by themselves or in conjunction with anything else we've already told you...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Counting started

Counting started at 7:00 am today. No herring were observed.

The water temperature surged up to 65 degrees at 1:00 pm, plenty warm, and herring were spotted off and on all afternoon.

I took a look down river and saw over 100 fish gathering in a pool.

With the warm temps and ample sunshine forecast for the next few days and with the water volume finally diminishing after the storm earlier this week, we should see some large counts in the next couple of days.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Herring have arrived

Charlie Thifault spotted scouts today at the herring run and we are going to commence counting starting Saturday April 21.

Counters should not be disappointed with zero counts as they will start off as a trickle.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Still no herring

Water temperature today was 51 degrees, so we're moving into the proper range now, but the volume of water from this past storm is still roaring through.

While yours truly had a stick with a thermometer on it stuck in the water, the state environmental police happened to be driving by and thought I was taking herring. Good thing my stick didn't have a net on it...

PS: he said they were running in Brewster.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Schedules sent

The counting schedules were sent out to 32 counters today, with 26 of them working online and 6 through the regular mail.

You can view the Master Schedule here, but it shows just the counter's number in each time slot and it's not real informative unless you know who has which number. We may post the counter's names later [if we get their permission].

Still no fish in sight and the water flow at the Herring Run at Mill Pond is still pretty ferocious. It may take another couple of days for this to flush out. Best guess for the arrival of herring is Saturday or Sunday, April 21-22. In 2006 they arrived on April 12.

All online counters were instructed to standby until they received a notice to start counting.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

No fish yet...

The water temperature at noon today was 47 degrees and there's no sign of any fish.

The cold rain that's due with this storm will keep the water cool, and the large volume of water passing through the culvert under Route 28 will be more then the herring can overtake. That will hold them back for a few days anyway.

We're checking the water temp several times a day and don't expect any activity until it's over 50 degrees and until the water velocity diminishes.

The counting project schedules will be out probably Tuesday April 17. We're waiting on a few stragglers to send in their availability which we need before we can complete the scheduling. But because this storm will delay the herring, there isn't any urgency.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Examples of River Herring

Below are examples of what are called River Herring, a term used to differentiate them from ocean herring.

River Herring are anadromous, meaning they migrate from the sea up rivers and streams to breed and River Herring do that in April/May here in New England.

Blueback herring


While there are obvious differences in the above depictions, it's very hard to distinguish between these fish when you are looking down into the water.

It was determined in 2006 that the Marstons Mills migration is that of alewives - because of their arrival in early April.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Water temperature: 43 F

The water temperature at the Herring Run was 43 degrees at noon today, well below the 51 degrees that the herring are waiting for.

With cold air temperatures [highs in the 40's] and cloudy skies [that block the sun] in the forecast, it's unlike to shoot up very quickly.

My bet is they will be delayed this year, like April 15 or later...

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Scheduling forms sent

Scheduling forms were sent to the 29 people that have volunteered [to-date] to count. 25 of these will use "Google Docs & Spreadsheets" to communicate their availability, the remaining 4 will do so via regular mail. The instructions that they are using can be found here.

When this first step has been completed, a Master Schedule will be produced and then each counter's spreadsheet will be updated with the dates/times they are scheduled to count. Then, when they take their count, they will post that count back into their spreadsheet.

These counts will then be aggregated into a composite spreadsheet. We'll tell you how to see both the Master Schedule and the counts in a later post.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

2007 Kick-Off...

As of this morning 20 people have "enrolled" in the 2007 Marstons Mills River Herring Counting Project, and we'll be sending them the scheduling forms soon.

Starting this week, a couple of people will be taking the water temperature and keeping an eye out for scouts. It's always a problem trying to figure out when to start the counting...

If you know of anyone that would like to help out in this years counting project, please direct them to here. Twenty counters is not a lot of people for the number of counts we'll have to take [60 days times 9 per day equals 540 counts], so please assist us in finding more help if you can.

For those interested in the results of the 2006 counting project, you can find that information here.