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What am I?

Cormorants are a large, black aquatic bird, often seen diving for fish or drying its wings on the land and perched on structures. The UK has two different races, one of which-the smaller continental raceis responsible for the quite recent colonisation of inland water bodies where they nest in trees around lakes and reservoirs. They are mostly silent but make various guttural noises at their breeding colonies. Photo Credit: John Parish. 

How to spot them

Cormorants are common and conspicuous around the coastline, particularly in winter as the UK is home to internationally important overwintering numbers. Their long neck, hooked bill and black shiny plumage are an instant giveaway, and in breeding season they will have a white patch on the thigh. Juveniles are dark brown with grey and white below. They often share ‘heronries’ with grey herons and egrets, nesting in large trees around lakes, and can be seen hunting and swallowing fish from quite close 

Where to see them

Everywhere along the coast and estuaries, along rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. They are present all year round, particularly inland, and over 60,000 spend their winter in the UK.  

Conservation status

The cormorant is green listed in the UK.  

Did you know?

The inland population growth of cormorants has caused increasing conflict with fishing and aquaculture. In some freshwater systems, the losses of fish to overwintering cormorants were estimated at 80kg per ha each year. 

Cormorant bird

Photo Credit: John Parish