CORMORANT OR SHAG?
While sitting on the beach at Dungeness today I counted a dozen or more Cormorants, flying low above the sea, travelling both east and west. This happened over a short time - maybe only ten minutes and it made me wonder about these reptilian looking birds.
The family name is Phalacrocoracidae and, there is little distinction between Cormorants and Shags. The only subtle difference is that the Shag's bill is more delicate and the forehead is steeper.
They are excellent divers and have been recorded as deep as 45 metres. The have webs between all four toes and use their feet to swim, with some help from their short wings.
They are coastal rather than oceanic birds and all are fish-eaters. They dive from the surface, making a half-jump to give themselves a more streamlined entry into the water. After fishing they go ashore and are often seen holding their wings out to dry.
As a postscript, I couldn't resist adding a photo of the estuary on my 009 layout, Compass Point, where I have a Cormorant, perched on the port marker, drying its wings. (Or is it a Shag?)