On Saturday afternoon I watched a Cormorant with a fish off Dawlish Warren.
The Cormorant had the fish in its beak and was trying to swallow it. It looked as though it had bitten off more than it could chew, or at least caught more than it could swallow. Have you ever done that?
I’m not sure what the fish was. It was a round fish, not a flat fish, and it about a foot long and seemed about eight inches from belly to back. It was quite silvery in colour with some noticeable red on its dorsal and ventral edges. I know that’s not a very good description! In my quick romp around the internet then it looked quite like a black sea bream – but with a bit more obvious red on it. But I don’t really ‘do’ fish. I’d be grateful for any informed comments!
It seemed a big fish for the Cormorant to swallow and it had several goes as I watched. Then a young Herring Gull (see – I can do gulls! (some gulls)) landed near the Cormorant and started watching – so I watched the Cormorant, its dead fish and the young Herring Gull (maybe somebody was watching me too – I wouldn’t have known).
I wondered whether the Herring Gull had spotted the cormorant having trouble with the big fish and was banking on getting some of the action. I thought it might be on to a winner there.
But after a couple of minutes, and two or three more attempts by the Cormorant to swallow its fish, the gull flew off. I wondered whether it had made the wrong decision as, to my eye, the Cormorant wasn’t making any progress at all with the fish. I was wondering whether it would soon give up.
And then, on what might have been the twentieth attempt that I had seen, the Cormorant swallowed the fish easily and with no delay or any fuss.
Why had it taken so long? Why was it, in the end, so easy? Had the herring Gull seen that the Cormorant had almost perfected its technique. What sort of fish was it? How many fish do Cormorants eat each day?
All sorts of questions occurred to me – as they always do when I watch nature closely.
Only one of those questions is answered in this rather impressive information source from the EU on Cormorants which I came across by accident, but enjoyed reading. I bet UKIP wouldn’t give us this if we left the EU…