More shots of the stars of my lunch break… Mancunian Cormorants, – the finest out there.
This group of cormorants look to have staked out a pretty solid territory along the floating water barrier at the end of one of the larger disused quays. According to the BTO they can be seen on both coastal and inland waters, and we have a native species carbo, and a European sub species sinensis, that is (according to a superficial Google survey) most likely to be found in SE England, so I’m going to assume that these are the more common residents.
It’s July now, so I have missed their April breeding plumage, which is a shame. I will have to wait until next year for that.
They swim low in the water with their necks upright, and sort of jump-dive down to catch fish from the water’s surface. All species are fish-eaters. Perhaps surprisingly, most sources that I have read say that they do not have waterproof feathers, and this allows the cormorants to dive very deep, as buoyancy is greatly reduced. However, I have also read that the opposite is true, so I’ll just leave that can of worms hanging there. When they return to the surface they can often be seen perched with their wings outstretched to dry them out, – they look just like little pterodactyls.
Cormorants also have a yellow/orangy area behind the lower mandible and at the top of the neck, which becomes more brightly coloured and “showy” during the breeding season (which, as I am reliable informed, I have just missed).
There is no real reliable scientific distinction between cormorants and shags, and looking about the internet information mine-field, this appears to be a can of arbitrary worminess at least the same height, breadth and depth as the one that I opened earlier, concerning their waterproof (or not) plumage. Either way, the mothers’ meeting on Salford Quays is appears to be comfortably within the cormorant bracket.
The Handbook of Birds of the World counts 42 different species of cormorant (&/shag). So, that’s a good life-time’s work if I ever wanted to see them all! Today Manchester, tomorrow the world!
Juvenile plumage is lighter on the breast and brown on the wing and back, adult plumage is more uniformly dark.