In decades of living at White Rock Lake where double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) are year-round residents, I never captured a photo of one with breeding crests, the one physical trait from which their name is derived. Oh sure, I’d seen the crests before. But a picture? Nope, not so much.
A few days ago as I walked along the north bank of Dixon Branch, the lazy sun still hanging low enough in the southern sky to make the creek one vast reflection of blinding starlight, I spied a dark form as it emerged from beneath the cover of riparian brush. With me facing into the sunshine and this specter in the shadows, I couldn’t tell what it was but could tell it was large enough not to be a duck.
It eventually moved close enough for me to see it clearly. And it was near enough to my position for me to recognize the crests. Then the scramble was on to capture an image or two before it moved into the direct sunshine where my position would make it impossible to photograph.
Though I reviled the inconvenience of having the sun in my eyes—and therefore in the lens—even a backlit crested cormorant is better than none at all.
And a few hours later as I looped around the creek and headed back along the south bank, guess who came by heading back toward the shadows of the creek?
I felt somewhat overjoyed with the encounter. These birds are always here, right? So why be ecstatic with just one more double-crested cormorant, a species so ubiquitous that I can photograph them any day of the year?
Because: Look it! Crests!
Though really more like tufts of poorly groomed feathers on either side of the head. But still.
Ah… Photos twenty years in the making. I’m feeling, like, totally accomplished.
(Now marking off yet another entry from the “must photograph” list. Only a gazillion more items to go…)