An excellent morning for divers off Hurlstone this morning with a minimum of 185 Red-throats moving back up-Channel between 07:55 and 10:30 by which time the numbers moving had dropped away. Even then it was possible to scan around and pick up at least 10 drifting back west on the falling tide. I haven't checked yet but this is probably the most recorded on one day in the County.
There were also five Black-throated Divers including one in Porlock Bay in an almost identical position to the bird seen yesterday.
Only one Common Scoter and far fewer auks than in recent days.
Feeding in the Channel must be good at the moment.
The Bristol Channel was a traditional autumn/winter Herring fishery until the UK Herring stocks collapsed in the 60’s due to over fishing. Every year a couple of Minehead fishermen try Herring netting in November and would typically catch nothing or a handful, 100 was a really good haul. In the last couple of years the catches have increased and this year a short drift has been producing 500 or 1000 Herrings. It would seem the fishery has finally recovered and this probably accounts for the increase in wintering Divers. I think the Auks move up Channel to feed on the smaller Sprats which are also plentiful at this time of year. More good news relating to fish stocks is in the last couple of weeks Rod and Line fishermen have been catching Spur Dogfish which have hardly been seen since Spanish boats long-lining in the mouth of the Channel virtually wiped them out in the 1980’s, these historically appeared in November, presumably also following the Herring and Sprat shoals.
Thank you for posting this bit of history about the fishing, i had no idea this is what happened and it is great to learn that there has been a significant recovery.
Slightly less Red-throated Divers this morning between 08:00 and 10:30 with 158 off Hurlstone. The majority of there were drifting back west on the falling tide with less flying back up-Channel. There was also one Black-throated Diver amongst these. Off there as well an adult Med Gull and 9 Common Scoter