Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bird life

The days are really drawing out know and the local bird life is bursting with life. The noise from small birds in the cypress tree out front is unbelievably loud. We saw a lone magpie today and believe we spotted some house martins down in Blanca. One bird however has been a familiar sight right through the winter as it flys back and forth along the course of the river from Blanca  to Cieza. The bird in point is a cormorant, well I guess there is more than one though we cannot be sure. Its to be seen early in the morning,  and late afternoon  regular as clock work. We do see cormorants at other times but there is always a lone bird around theses times along the same course. It seems to go towards Abaran then come back to Blanca hours later.
Years ago we thought you only saw cormorants on the coast but having seen them in many places in the world we now know they are common inland where there is water. I love the silhouette they make as they stand drying there wings, its so prehistoric looking  rather like a mini pterodactyl.
The Great Cormorant to give it its full name, is a large black bird, but there is a wide variation in size in the species . They can weigh in at anything from  1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) to 5.3 kg (11.7 lbs). Length can vary from 70 to 102 cm (28–40 in) with wingspan being  from 121 to 160 cm (48–63 in). It has a longish tail and yellow throat-patch. Adults have white thigh patches in the breeding season. have to admit we are not totally sure which species the cormorants are here, there are about 40 types, one thing is for sure though its not a pigmy one! We have seen some white breasted ones but we think they are immature ones not the ones indigenous to Africa.
It seems that cormorants are prey to hunters here and in many other parts of the Europe. Many fishermen try to erradicate them. In China and Japan however they use cormorants to fish with, though its not so widespread as it used to be, a snare is tied near the base of the bird's throat, which allows the bird only to swallow small fish. When the bird captures and tries to swallow a large fish, the fish is caught in the bird's throat. When the bird returns to the fisherman's raft, the fisherman helps the bird to remove the fish from its throat. In fact cormorants are eaten by some people. Cannot say I fancy one myself. I have seen warnings about eating them because of pollution. All cormorants are fish eaters, they go for small eels, and would you believe water snakes.

Well, will not be seeing Scottish Cormorant hotpot or roast breast of cormorant on the Middleton family menu anytime soon, think we will stick with rabbit casserole when it comes to game dishes thank you very much.
We will however continue to enjoy the sight of our lone bird on its daily journey along the valley floor and hey its nearly spring maybe some day soon it wont be alone but will bring its mate alone for the commute.

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