I’ve been taking photos at the lake for some time and have never been able to digitally capture any presentable images of the double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) that make this place their home. The birds tend to stay too far away from my most common haunts, so imagine my surprise when my most recent walk afforded me an opportunity to see them near shore instead of perched in the middle of the lake.
As you can see, they were congregating on the top limbs of a sleeping tree. You’ll also notice the tree leans out over the water from its place on shore. As luck would have it, the cormorants stayed mostly in the topmost branches that hung out over the water. That made for a difficult time getting a clear view of them behind the other branches—and without forcing me to wade into the shallows. Still, I was able to get a few reasonable images.
These birds are raucous beasts. What I found most interesting was this: they get quite loud when a cormorant flies into the tree where they’re sitting. Never mind that the tree is already full of cormorants, many of them quite near each other.
They seem to take turns flying out into the water before returning to the tree. As I watched, one would fly up and perch in the top branches, and immediately another one would fly out over the lake. When that bird returned, another would leave.
One particular cormorant resting alone out on a branch stood for the longest time with one of its legs tucked up near its body. The whole one-legged perch was entertaining to see as it switched legs twice while I watched.
Finally, before I left, these two hanging way out over the water seemed to be involved in synchronized observation. They constantly turned their heads in unison and almost always in the same direction.
Do let me apologize that the photos aren’t better quality than they are. Because I either had to shoot up through branches or back far away from the tree to get a clear shot most of the time, I never got close enough to the birds for hi-res photos. Also, I was trying not to disturb them as they watched me closely while I milled about beneath them.
And that brings me to the last reason I didn’t get closer. Have you ever watched the mess cormorants make while they’re perched in a tree? I assure you it was like watching some kind of carpet bombing. No matter how much I wanted to get a good picture or two, nothing could have convinced me to walk beneath that tree for a closer look!