WEEK-BY-WEEK BIRDS TO SEEK: WEEK 30 CORMORANTS, GANNET & FULMAR

EVERY WEEK IN 2017 WE WILL HAVE NEW SUGGESTIONS FOR A DIFFERENT GROUP OF BIRDS TO LOOK FOR TO HELP DEVELOP YOUR #MY200BIRDYEAR LIST

This week, it is Cormorants, Gannet & Fulmar

Here are four species of seabird. Although you may be familiar with Cormorant from inland freshwater sites, they also live at the coast, as do their relatives, Shag and Gannet and the unrelated Fulmar. The latter three species are unusual inland and inland Fulmars are often sadly moribund. All are fish eaters.

Cormorant

Cormorant

Cormorant

Cormorant

Cormorant

Big and ugly, the reptilian Cormorant is an angular, goose-sized pterosaur of the bird world. Largely blackish, but with a white throat patch and hip patch (and often a white head in breeding plumage), Cormorants are distinctive perched upright in a tree or on a cliff or on the water. Younger birds are whitish on the underparts (unlike Shags of the subspecies found in the UK).

Shag

Adult and juvenile Shags

Adult and juvenile Shags

Juvenile Shag

Juvenile Shag

Much smaller than a Cormorant, the Shag is about the size of a large duck. Mainly a coastal bird, they may wonder inland occasionally, especially the browner juveniles. These can be identified by their small size, much finer bill, steeper forehead and white throat, lacking any of the yellow-orange bare skin of a Cormorant.

Gannet

Adult Gannet

Adult Gannet

Juvenile Gannet

Juvenile Gannet

Third-calendar-year Gannet

Third-calendar-year Gannet

Three feet long and six feet in wing span, the Gannet is a huge seabird. Adults are just about unmistakable: giant Persil white with a yellow head and black outer wing and pointed at both ends. Younger birds (they take several years to mature) are harder to ID. Concentrate on the size and shape. The general rule is that they get whiter with successive years; juveniles are dark and neatly white spotted, second years get white bellies and so on…

Fulmar

Fulmar

Fulmar

Fulmars

Fulmars

Our only largish petrel, the Fulmar is as close as a tubenose gets to looking like a gull, with a white head and underparts and pale grey wings. The key is the way it flies: on stiff straight wings. Note also that there are no black wing tips and the rump and tail are pale grey (not white or dark banded). Almost exclusively seen at sea.

All photos from Alamy