December 4th   Leave a comment

This morning I walked on a circuit from Boarhills down to the shore and around to Kenly before coming back through the fields as it came on to rain – and then snow when I got back to Crail. The cold and the weather kept it very quiet except on the shore which is always lively, especially at the mouth of the Kenly Water. There were the usual couple of greenshanks, flocks of purple sandpipers, teal, wigeon and mallards. The gull roost was all herring, great black-backed and black-headed gulls, but always worth checking through for a white-winged gull at this time of year. I watched a juvenile cormorant air drying itself on the rocks. Most water birds just don’t get wet, with fully water repellant feathers (water off a duck’s back etc.) but cormorants seem to be bothered, spending a lot of time holding and flapping their wings out apparently to dry them. The juvenile this morning was also fluffing up its breast feathers as if they were wet too. Deep diving species like cormorants do get wet because the increased pressure of the water at depth squeezes the air out of their feathers. It is reversible as they come up, the feathers squeeze the water back out, but it needs a bit of help with flapping and fluffing.

The juvenile great cormorant drying itself at Kenly this morning – I also noticed the orange skin at the base of the bill. I hadn’t realised what an obvious characteristic it is (juvenile shags don’t have this)

Posted December 4, 2021 by wildcrail in Sightings

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