Saturday, July 07, 2012

It's a hard life rearing cormorant chicks.

 It was a beautiful calm June evening and I paddled out to an island...

 ...that was teeming with birds.

As I got closer, I drifted in the tide to avoid startling the birds. I was rewarded with the noise of the cormorant colony and the fishy smell of their guano.

High rocks are favoured sites for their simple nests of sticks...

 ...but the cormorants are under continual harassment by wheeling gulls...

 ...that will swoop in and snatch an egg or a chick in the blink of an eye.

Despite it all, this pair had raised three chicks, which were now of a size to fend off gulls with their sharp beaks.

 This was one proud parent.

These herring gulls didn't have it all their own way. Indeed some of them weren't so smart. These ones made their nests and laid their eggs on the rocks above high water neaps. A week later, high water springs washed their nests away.

Last spring, the weather was much better. I saw a party on sit on top kayaks (without BAs) paddle right up to the colony then start shouting and clapping their hands to see the cormorants fly off. The gulls stayed put and swooped in clearing the rocks of cormorant eggs and chicks. So I was pleased to see so many chicks this year and felt privileged to have spent a little time sharing their world.


  1. Nice post! Nice photos! Here in South of Brazil we can find a lot of cormorants, but they are different, all black. But unfortunately fool people are the same, scaring birds clapping...

  2. Hi, lovely photos and great post:) I found your blog on kayaking and thought you might find the project my friend is working on to be interesting. He’s with a group of stats students from UC Berkeley doing their final project. From what I understand, they’re developing a something like a free resource to help buyers and sellers of used goods maximize savings and profit by statistically analyzing online marketplaces to provide blue book values and price trends. It’s sort of like an advanced Kelley Blue Book but for more than just automobiles.

    I know they’re looking for feedback from people who might benefit from the project so if this seems interesting, please let me know and I can put you in touch with them! Their latest blog post is actually about kayaking:)


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