This week’s picture and query come from regular contributor Callum Herd.
Callum writes: “I was walking along the side of the Esk today and noticed this bird standing on the bank which looked like a cormorant but with a white breast!
“Having got back to the house I grabbed my camera and drove back to the nearest location to where I had seen it.
“Sure enough it was still there and I watched it for a while and took some photos until it waddled into the water and dived in search of fish.
“ On getting back to the house I looked up my bird books and noted that juvenile cormorants have white breasts .
“However, since this is well past the time that young cormorants will have fledged – how long will it still have a white breast, if indeed it’s a cormorant?
“Do young or juvenile cormorants have a white breast for their first year i.e. until the next breeding season following them being fledged?
“Or is this bird one that has come from foreign climes?”
Well Callum, your identification of the species is spot on.
It is indeed a cormorant.
Many readers may be forgiven for thinking that cormorants are seabirds, but they are also regular on many rivers, fisheries and reservoirs locally.
It has to be said they are not flavour of the month with some anglers, but we have to learn to share with nature if it is to have any future.
As for Callum’s question ‘do they have a white breast until the next breeding season?’, it can in fact be a lot longer than that.
Cormorants are slow to reach breeding age and this bird may be almost three years of age before attaining the handsome metallic blackish green plumage of an adult.
Personally I quite a fan of cormorants as they have often amazed me due to the enormous size of fish they will try to swallow.
Even more amazingly, they usually manage it, even if it takes many minutes and lots of tries!