Is it an Otter? An Eel? Or a flying fish? No! It’s a Cormorant!

As spring finally kicks in and the days get warmer and brighter, we are out walking more. During this pleasant time of year a walk along the riverside is a delight, not only for it’s tranquil beauty but the opportunity to see some of Britain's less well known wildlife.

Often mistaken from afar as otters but known throughout the world for their superior fishing skills, the Great Cormorant is a staple part of British water life. This striking bird comes in a variety of sizes but its big flat feet, long neck and almost reptilian facial features make it a distinctive species.

Typically a coastal bird, the numbers of inland Cormorant colonies has dramatically increased in recent years. As your chances of meeting one of these magnificent birds are high, here are a few fun facts about the Great Cormorant.

  • Due to their previously mentioned superior fishing abilities, Cormorants have been used throughout history for fishing by humans. Dating as far back as Ancient Egypt and China, Cormorants were taken on fishing excursions to help find and catch fish. The use of Cormorants for fishing still occurs today in China and Japan, with the practice in Japan known as Ukai.
  • The Cormorant has featured in literature for centuries. With appearances in notable works such as the Bible and The Odyssey. The Cormorant has often been a symbol of evil and greed due to their striking looks.
  • However, it is not all doom and gloom for this majestic bird. In Norway, the Cormorant is considered a good omen and in some coastal regions is said to symbolise the embodiment of souls lost at sea.
  • A natural homebody, the Cormorant returns to the same nest site every year.
  • Cormorants produce offspring once a year and lay 3 to 5 eggs, which are greenish-blue in colour.
  • They feed on fish solely caught by diving and will eat any fish that is torpedo-shaped. Eels are a favourite meal for Cormorants.
  • They have evolved to be able to hear well underwater however their feathers are not waterproof and they are often found standing on land with their wings outstretched drying themselves. This pose gives them the silhouette of a Pterodactyl and their affectionate nickname.

Guest Blogger – Rebecca Shields

Thank you to Rebecca Shields for supplying this fascinating article for Adventure Geek. We will be hearing more from Rebecca in the near future.