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Cormorant, Bank

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
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Johan van Rensburg
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Cormorant, Bank

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:35 am

Getting good photographs of the Bank Cormorant has been a tough task for me. First problem facing the photographer is the location where they can be found: usually some distance off shore. Endemic to southern Africa; their distribution roughly matches that of the kelp beds associated with the Benguela upwelling system off the west coast of southern Africa on which this bird depends for its favourite food (klipfish, gobies, rock lobster, octopus and cuttlefish). Getting close requires the use of a boat; and that solution brings its own challenges being an unstable platform to work from. I have always tried to convince the skipper on pelagic trips out of Simon’s Town to make an effort to get me close for pictures of these birds on their guano-covered boulders. On the outbound leg of a pelagic trip the light is usually still too feeble and one has to hope for good light and weather on the return leg.

Being primarily a dark bird in a light milieu, getting the exposure settings right can be a bit of a jackpot/pee pot affair. Anyhow, on my last pelagic trip out of Cape Town I got a “seat” on a small game fishing catamaran, Pisces 2. With 400 hp outboard power, manoeuvring around one of the larger white-washed boulders that had good numbers of Banks was a cakewalk for the skipper. Bingo!


The bank cormorant population is decreasing annually and the species is classified as Endangered, having lost 66 percent of its numbers over the last 40 years. This dramatic decline is due primarily to scarcity of food and competition with seals. AND obviously the ubiquitous human activities that result in a decline in food quality and quantity, disturbances at breeding locations, oiling and pollution and climate change.

Nests are constructed from seaweed and guano and are built in close proximity to the sea on offshore islands, raised rocks, harbour walls, jetties and guano platforms. Their attachment to guarding their egg and chicks are remarkable. Given their preference for nesting at sites completely exposed to heat and high wave action it is forecast that the effects of climate change will be devastating on the breeding success of this bird, in spite of their parental commitment.

As seabirds go these Cormorants are not as long-lived as some other sea farers. Their life expectancy is only about five to seven years, but some may live beyond 15 years.
Last edited by Johan van Rensburg on Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cormorant, Bank

Unread post by hilda » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:31 pm

Stunning picture of the Bank Cormorant Johan! :clap: :clap:
"Like a sunflower, always turn toward the light." Eleanor Brown.

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Re: Cormorant, Bank

Unread post by Ladybirder » Sun Jan 08, 2017 9:36 pm

Stunning photo Johan, enjoy your trip to Zim :clap: :clap: :clap: :mrgreen:

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