|Copyright: Bob Harrison (BobH)
|Date Taken: 2008-05-04|
|Camera: Canon PowerShot S5 IS|
|Exposure: f/5.6, 1/100 seconds|
|More Photo Info: [view]|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2009-04-04 4:55|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Though few of my images on TN are of animals, I am not averse to shooting them. I just don't have the time, patience, or inclination to chase them or lie in wait for long periods. More importantly, since most of my shooting is very close to home, I'm generally limited to what lives in or is passing through my fairly suburban environment.|
This image is a notable exception to that and also continues the California theme of my last post. While admiring the intense purple flowers, rocky shore, cypress trees, and landscape painters of Pacific Grove, I saw numerous cormorants on the rocks. While moving closer to one group and preparing for some telephoto shots, I surprised both myself and this lone bird by catching him in a cleft in the rocks. He waited long enough before bolting into the water that I was able to capture several decent images.
From up close, the design for underwater fishing is stunning- the streamlined shape, placement of feet at the rear like a submarine propeller, short stout tail, long and agile neck, nasty looking hooked bill, and sleek surface for low drag. No wonder they can outswim fish in their own environment- truly a beautiful bird.
My effort today at identification was tough at first because of the poor quality of pictures and descriptions in my printed references and the strange organization of the cormorant section on Wikipedia. Finally it did become clear that this is a Brandt's Cormorant, matching the Wikipedia Brandt's quite closely. Surprisingly, nothing I've seen so far in either print or web resources identifies the eye color as diagnostic, at least not this intense blue. One reference stated that adults have green eyes, but that was the only mention of eye color at all. Is something missing or just wrong here? This bird's blue seems pretty striking to me. Comments on this point by knowledgeable birders would be appreciated.
From Wikipedia: The Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) is a strictly marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabits the Pacific coast of North America. It ranges, in the summer, from Alaska to the Gulf of California, but the population north of Vancouver Island migrates south during the winter. Its specific name, penicillatus is Latin for a painter's brush (pencil of hairs), in reference to white plumes on its neck and back during the early breeding season. The common name honors the German naturalist Johann Friedrich von Brandt of the Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg, who described the species from specimens collected on expeditions to the Pacific during the early 1800s.
Brandt's Cormorants feed either singly or in flocks, and are adaptable in prey choice and undersea habitat. It feeds on small fish from the surface to sea floor, obtaining them, like all cormorants, by pursuit diving using its feet for propulsion. Prey is often what is most common: in central California, rockfish from the genus Sebastes is the most commonly taken, but off British Columbia, it is Pacific Herring. Brandt's Cormorant have been observed foraging at depths of over 40 feet. During the breeding season, adults have a blue throat patch. This species nests on the ground or on rocky outcroppings.
tech notes- cropping, shadow/highlight adjustment, contrast boost, no color manipulation of any kind
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