Cormorants Rest

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I’ve liked these birds for as long as I can remember. As a child I’d scan the shoreline hoping to see one flying low over the sea or popping up like a dart after what seemed an inordinate amount of time under the water.

In some parts of Norway cormorants are a sign of good luck and folklore also suggests people lost at sea may return to their former homes in the shape of a cormorant. In the epic tale of Ulysses, a sea nymph disguised herself as a cormorant and offered him a float when the mast of his raft was smashed in a storm. Ulysses swam safely ashore. Like other animals cormorants have been persecuted by ill-informed humans who thought the birds took too many fish. Fortunately our ignorance hasn’t served to make them all extinct. In Japan and China cormorants were kept by fisherman who realised the birds could help in their endeavours; the fishermen kept the largest fish while the cormorant was allowed to eat the smaller ones.

Cormorants are still one of my favourite seabirds and this rock in Bideford bay is a popular resting place for them. They sit here uninterrupted with waves crashing around them as they wait for their plumage to dry.

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6 thoughts on “Cormorants Rest

  1. There are half a dozen species of cormorants in North America, and I loved seeing them when I lived in their range, but I have a special spot in my heart for their more inland cousin, the Anhinga. They’re similar, but they mostly do their business in swamps, where they’re a really striking sight. A lot of people probably think of alligators, but when someone says swamp to me, I’ll always think of this first.

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    1. We tend to have the great cormorant and a few of them have ventured further inland (as have some grey seals and the occasional porpoise but I’m not sure this is a good sign). The Anhinga is very handsome, it looks almost primitive. It’s a shame we don’t have them in the fens and bogs here.

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    1. They seem to make a distinction between cormorants and shags here. The cormorant doesn’t gave a crest but the shag does (and we don’t see them so often). They’re all excellent at fishing, have seen quite a few after sand eels recently

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