Saturday, 28 January 2017

Bird of the week - Cormorant

I enjoyed watching a couple of cormorants fishing this week.  One of them in particular caught several fish while a heron just stood and watched.

I think the fish were mostly rudd or roach. 

The bird seemed quite happy to dive under the ice.  Here it has surfaced with a piece of ice on its back.

When it was full it hopped onto the bank for a rest.

Unlike many water birds, cormorants don't have waterproof feathers so they have to dry them in the sun.

After a rest this one jumped back in but didn't catch anything else while I was watching.

The cormorant, or more precisely the great cormorant, Phalocrocorax carbo, is found on every continent apart from South America and Antarctica.
By Imagesincommons - Own work, CC0,

Until fairly recently cormorants were exclusively coastal nesting birds in the British Isles.  In the past 35 years they have spread to inland lakes and rivers.  It is interesting that most of the inland birds are of the continental subspecies P. c. chinensis.  Our native subspecies P. c. carbo remains a coastal breeder.  The BTO Bird Atlas maps show the relative abundance and change in distribution.

This is Thomas Bewick's engraving for A History of British Birds Vol II (1832).

John James Audubon painted the great cormorant.

This is Archibald Thorburn's painting.

You can watch a BTO video on cormorant and shag identification here.  Listen to the BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on cormorants here.

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