Friday, 20 November 2015

Green Cormorant at Pennington Flash

So far I've just about managed to avoid making all the old jokes about this bird's more usual name because this is the first time I've ever had a Shag at Pennington Flash - dammit!  Well Green Cormorant is an alternative name given to the Common Shag due to its greenish feathers compared with the blueish feathers of the Common Cormorant. Both birds are species of the genus Phalacrocoracidae. And, with the prospect of a break in the highly changeable weather we're currently experiencing, I decided to go for the bird this morning as it seemed to be hanging around.

I had already decided to pay the £1.20 for the car park at Pennington Flash for once, not because the free car park would be still locked when I got there at around 8:00am, but because I didn't really want to carry my camera the extra distance it entails walking in the wind and occasional rain.  But when I did get there, there was nowhere to pay - one pay station had been vandalised and the other said it was 'out of use' and to pay in the golf shop. Needless to say, there was no-one in the golf shop either.

Having been stung once for not having a ticket here (although I did have a good excuse and the fine was waived), I wasn't going to risk not paying again, so it was very lucky for me that Jeff, one of the few warden who still works here, turned up and unlocked the 'out of use' pay station.

After displaying my ticket, I set off straight for the prize, which had been showing at Pengy's Hide. This was fortunate as the hides had not been unlocked yet, and Pengy's is one of the few hides without a door.  There was already a birder in the hide, but he hadn't seen the Shag this morning so we chatted for a while before I decided to have a look around the other locations.  Bunting Hide was locked, so I headed for Horrocks' Hide where I knew Bill Harrison and probably Barry Hulme would be painstakingly searching for something of interest - well, they do come everyday and unlock some of the hides before texting the morning's sightings to the Manchester Birding Forum.

As it happens, neither of them had seen the Shag this morning, but there had been a Sparrowhawk around and the long-staying Common Scoter was still about, which Bill showed me through his spotting scope. So after a quick chat with them I popped outside for a quick photo of the distant Scoter before heading off for the Tom Edmonson and Ramsdale's Hides which by now had been unlocked. Unfortunately, neither of these were very productive today, and so I decided to head back to Pengy's Hide and sit it out for the Shag.

This proved to be a good move, because when I got there I was told that the Shag had been showing, and seemed to do an anticlockwise circuit of the pool which included swimming right in front of the hide before heading off into a little bay of reeds and out of sight.  So now it was just a matter of waiting for it to do the circuit again.

I wasn't too long before it showed again through the reeds and then eventually it began the circuit.  At first it swam further away to the opposite bank where it seemed to favour diving in front of some red dogwood, and then slowly it made its way towards us along the bank before popping up right in front of the hide.  It really took me by surprise and as a result my camera settings weren't quite right for the light conditions.  So I'm only partly satisfied with these results (as usual!).

And for those of you who can't resist making a comical answer to the question "What's the difference between a Cormorant and a Shag?" I'll nip it in the bud right now by including a side-by-side comparison with my photo of Cormorant from Orrell Water Park earlier this year:

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article and very good photos for comparison - thanks. Anne Johnson


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