A familiar shape and sight around inshore harbours, lakes and rivers
We must all have seen a cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) doing this but why do they do it? Conventional wisdom says it is to dry their wings which obviously get saturated after they have been diving. This may well, of course, be very true but it raises the question that why do cormorants need to do it when other diving birds do not? You never see duck or grebes, for example, drying their wings after a fishing expedition. The answer could well be that the cormorant has much bigger wings and. as it spends more time flying than a duck or a grebe, then drying them out is more important.
I have, however, heard a theory that this posture aids their digestion. Cormorants swallow their catch whole, head first, and it takes a good while to get the fish right down the throat and in to the stomach. Holding out its wings like this opens the passage way and eases the flow. There may be truth in both of these.
The cormorant is very common on the land-locked harbours of Dorset; that is Poole harbour and Chrstchurch. They are also commonly seen on larger lakes and rivers, notably Radipole Lake in Weymouth. Along the higher, rocky cliffs of the Purbecks they are replaced by their more seafaring cousin, the Shag.
This species has been seen at the following sites featured on the Nature of Dorset:
This map shows the nature reserves and 'hot-spots' featured on the Nature of Dorset where this species has been seen. Obviously it will occur in other places too but this is intended to give you a graphical guide as to the species distribution in Dorset. Click any marker to see the name of the site; you can then click again to see more information about that site.
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The Small Print!
This website has been created by, and is the copyright of, Peter Orchard, Wareham, Dorset. The website is run as a hobby and the information is made available free of charge to anyone who finds it useful. No responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions in the data and information supplied. Copyright of all photographs on this website (unless otherwise stated) remains with the publisher or the contributor and they should not be used by others for any purpose without permission.
Please note that the data on this website is not the result of scientific research, it is a collection of random observations made by a very amateur enthusiast. The species database covers everything from mammals to fungi and no one can be an expert in all of these taxa and much of the identification is restricted by the quality of reference material available. One person cannot possibly produce the definitive guide to the nature of Dorset and so species lists will be incomplete and there will be reserves not covered but as time goes by so the database will grow and (depending on health and the weather) the content will become more comprehensive as time passes.
I welcome constructive suggestions and comments and I am happy to try and answer questions if I can. The 'contact' function can also be found at the bottom of every page. I will ignore any communication that is not constructive but just negative and destructive (fortunately I do not get many of those!).
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