I was fascinated by this unusual looking cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) diving in a small pond in Alexandra Park, Hastings, yesterday. I even saw it come up with a small fish and gulp down the silver slither in a flash – too fast for me to get a photo of that brief moment unfortunately.
With its striking white head and neck, I assumed it was a young bird, but after a bit of an internet search, it turns out this is a cormorant in breeding plumage.
Of further interest (I knew nothing about cormorants before, even though we see a lot of them here in Hastings), to find one in breeding plumage this early in the year, and in the south-east, and with this much white, it was almost certainly the somewhat smaller, ‘continental’ subspecies sinensis.
I learned that colonies in the south-east, particularly inland colonies nesting in trees (which we see regularly in this area), usually contain a mix of sinensis and carbo and no doubt mixed individuals with parents of both subspecies.
When seen head-on, this handsome bird’s face reminds me of an emu!
Isn’t it incredible how vibrant and colourful many animals become to attract a mate? I think, if I were another cormorant, I’d definitely take a look at this gorgeous beast and go “Phwoar!”