Cormorant. Pete Woodruff.
On Monday I found the Cormorant in the photograph above at Glasson Dock. In all my years birding it is by far the best opportunity I ever had of studying this species at close quarters in particular in the photograph once I got it off the card in my camera and on to the computer. I know at least one consultant of mine - with my appreciation for comments on this bird - who agrees with the claim that it is indeed a strong contender of the subspecies 'Continental Cormorant' sinensis.
Cormorant ID is shrouded in confusion when it comes to claiming sinensis, in the past some believed ID was achieved by the amount of white feathering on the head but this is now known to be erroneous and claims are now based upon the shape/size of the gular patch. Breeding adults are whiter-headed than the British Cormorant but the amount of white in the latter varies increasingly with age and older carbo may be very white headed and are not separable from sinensis by this feature. They breed in the Netherlands, south and central Europe east to Asia, India, and China and are more migratory than British Cormorants with some moving south to Egypt and the Persian Gulf.
In Mitchells day the Cormorant in Lancashire was regarded as 'numerous' only on the Mersey sandbanks with just single figures at other coastal sites, but Oakes added the Lune, Wyre, and Ribble to the list of major sites but never quoted any figures.
The first British record of Cormorant of the subspecies sinensis was of a bird at Christchurch in Hampshire in 1873 and was accepted by the BOU 58 years later in 1931. Evidence of conclusive proof was provided when a bird found in Newhaven, Sussex in February 1936 had been ringed in Germany in May three years earlier in 1933.
Tomorrow - if the weather is suitable - it is quite possible I'll go up Clougha/Birk Bank, if I do I'll be more than a little surprised to find a Stonechat up there, if I find two I'll be more than a little amazed, but....birds never cease to amaze me!