Friday, 30 January 2015

Day 90 - Cracking Cormorants

Hey everyone,

A gulp of Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Day 90 and an interesting bird today. I've seen these birds mostly on islands on Lake Windermere, at Whitby sometimes and at Fairburn Ings but the photo here is from Bolton Lake. They were on the far side of the Lake from the hide so it was quite a job to get a picture!

I'm talking today about Cormorants. Here's a few things I found out:

  • The UK is home to a population of around 9,000 breeding pairs. They have a Green status.
  • This number increases in the winter to around 41,000 birds. an internationally important number of these birds.
  • In the UK they mainly breed at coastal locations but some inland breeding locations where they nest in trees have been found.
  • Their diet is mainly fish and they are very good at swimming and catching them. So good that they have been seen as a threat to anglers and have sometimes been controlled because of this.
  • Cormorants are often seen drying their feathers after swimming for food. It's a myth that their feathers aren't waterproof but they are less water resistant than a lot of birds to help them forage underwater. They do though need a lot of time out of the water to dry off.
  • Cormorants are sometimes described as a prehistoric looking bird and that's because they are part of one of the oldest family of birds that had similar ancestors in the time of the dinosaurs.
  • Out of the water they have awkward proportions and aren't very agile but they are strong flyers when they get going
  • They are 90cm long with a wingspan of 145cm. They weigh between 2-2.5kg
  • There is a lot of folklore linked to cormorants. In Norway three seen flying together are thought to be carrying a message from the dead. Norwegian folklore also says that people who die at sea can come back to visit their families in the form of a Cormorant. In Ireland and some other parts of the UK seeing a Cormorant on a Church steeple is a sign of bad luck to come. Oddly they are also seen as a sign of a good catch by fishermen.
  • Cormorants are quite shy of humans but can be domesticated. In China and Japan Cormorants are used by fishermen. They put a string around their necks to stop them swallowing the fish so they are sent off to hunt and they bring the fish back to the fishermen.
  • A group of Cormorants can be called a flight, a paddling, a rookery or a swim, but my favourite is a gulp of Cormorants :-)
Well I found out quite a lot, they are very interesting birds. If you want to find out more try these links:

Hope you enjoyed,


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