Monday, 2 July 2007

Four and twenty black birds

The little black cormorants love the basalt boulders along the waterfront at Williamstown. It's difficult to get close to them, though, because they have a long flight distance. I've tried sneaking up on them by hiding behind the she oaks on the Strand. But it doesn't fool the canny cormorants. And it makes people look at me strangely.

Now I come to think of it, maybe that's why the birds flee.


Sophie said...


The best way I found to encounter water birds up close and personal is to finswim and snorkel. A head with a mask (and maybe a waterproof camera case) is quite small and doesn't scare them much. I've been a few meters away from cormorants, flown over at less than a meter by curious terns, and recently I almost bumped in the palms of a seagull.

Snail said...

That's great advice, Sophie. I don't think I'll try it at that spot, though, because there's a lot of boat traffic in the area. (And the water is freezing at this time of year!)

Sophie said...

Here now, in a cold summer, water in 16 degrees. I remember finding it similar in Hobart in March-April, so a wetsuit is part of the birdwatching kit, and you'd better wait until warmer months arrive.

Yesterday I got a treat I'd been hoping for for a long time : while looking for seabass close to the shore, a big black shape went across my field of view, a meter and a half or so from me... It was a cormorant, in dive chase mode. Air bubbles were trapped in its black feathers, flickering white, and it looked just like a torpedo. I don't carry an underwater camera, but, anyway, it was very fast and I wouldn't have caught much I guess.