Tim writes: there are a lot of fishing ponds near to where I live which makes Cormorants rather wary. So I was really surprised when this Cormorant continued to dry its wings while I took its photograph. And this was on a stocked lake full of anglers. The microscopic structure of Cormorant feathers makes them wettable which decreases buoyancy and facilitates their ability to pursue fish underwater. But when they emerge they need to dry their plumage.
The name Cormorant dates back to the 12th Century from Old French meaning marine raven. And its scientific name Phalacrocorax translates as bald raven, referring to the skin around the face. And the shape of the bare skin on the face enables me to confidently identify this as the British coastal breeding race “carbo“. On “sinensis” Cormorants (which breed on the Continent and at inland colonies in England) the yellow gape drops at 90° to the bill line creating an obtuse angle (> 90° ) at the rear of the bare-patch whereas on British carbo Cormorants (like this one) there is an acute angle or at most a right angle as this line points forward towards the bill tip. Below is a photograph of a sinensis Cormorant showing the obtuse angle at the rear of the bill, though this one has its white head plumes of the breeding season.