Posted by: Ross Gardner | September 24, 2014

The cormorant

Black shapes loom on the harbour walls,

Of cormorants contemplating

A plunge into the invisible deep;

To merge feather-scale sleek

Into the shimmer.

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) drying its wings.  Ross Gardner 2014

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) drying its wings beside the Thames in central London . Ross Gardner 2014

The wonderful prehistoric oddity of the Cormorant.  A bird supposedly of ancient lineage and one perhaps with those certain graces as to recall their reptilian ancestors.

The looming Cormorant are those with wings spread, drying them out as they stand at the waterside after a prolonged spell of fishing.  This is not behaviour we see in other water-birds that dive and forage for their food, such as auks or Gannet, so why must the Cormorant?  It appears that microscopically they have a more open structure to their feathers, trapping less air and holding more water; an adaptation for reducing buoyancy when diving for fish.

The feather-scale Cormorant slithers beneath the surface with a sleek, scaly fluidity and a flash of the long distant past, to emerge again close by to resume its birdness.

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