Hen and Chicks

Tue 3 Aug 2021

Hen and Chicks

The Hen and Chicks(Howney Rocks) is a small rocky outcrop on the mainland situated adjacent from Stack Rocks Islet between Little Haven and St Brides Bay near Lower Broadmoor and in the absense of any major rivers running into the bay provides some of the best visibility in the area.

(grey areas in following schematic show underwater rock formations)

Frequently visited when all other sites are blown out or offer poor visibility, the Hen and Chicks really come into their own by late July as they temporarily offer holiday accomodation for a small group of Trigger fish which have migrated on the gulf stream far more north than their normal haunts.

When swimming around the reef as shown in the schematic above there are a number of very deep cuts in rocks which host a diverse marine population which are missed by merely swimming around the outside of the rocks, so take your time to fully explore the narrow gullies.

This reef also hosts plumose anenomes which you will not be see if your merely traverse the outer periphery of the rocks. Recognise that the reef has a number of taller rocks and just below the tops of these rocks there is a small garden of plumose anenomes, which take advantage of the abundance of food which is swept over these rocks twice a day.

The bibs, shown in the one of the video snip below dont hide in the cracks merely to get out of the current, as these cracks provide a safe haven from the ever hungry pollock which stalk the upper kelp areas waiting for an unsuspecting bib to venture out into the open.

return to scenic

video snips of the reef:- Triggerfish Lobsters Triggers more..

Pollock Walking Gurnard Balam wrasse

So you swam round this reef and didnt see any trigger fish? These fish are generally quite illusive and are not likely to be out in the open. Looking at the video snips of the triggers you will see the first clip shows them in some very large gullies. These are actually the gaps between the drying rocks which are the above surface rocks, which are the hen and chicks.

The second trigger fish snip shows a narrow fissure that the fish appear to be lodging in, this narrow fissure is the horizontal gully shown in the schematic above, and you will need to scout around the gully, moving across the top of it, which is where this snip was taken showing the trigger fish resting in the narrow fissures below.

Dont restrict your exploration to the very base of the rocks either, as this area is visited by some other summer visitors which have travelled north on the gulf stream. Whilst deploying our 2nd wave of divers last year above the reef, we were stunned to see swimming past the Rib a small sun fish (18") which caught us all out, otherwise there would be Sunfish snipit, in the rogues gallery.

You will notice that the bottom of the gullies has a very large broken shell content, there are scallops in amongst the rocks on the shale bottoms, and also the odd octopus camoflaged as a boring sponge!