Sunday, 20 March 2011

Sinensis Cormorant?

While looking through some old pictures I came across this picture of a Cormorant I took at Conwy RSPB reserve in October 2004. I remember at the time talking to Alan about the very obvious orange / yellow gular patch that was vaguely reminicent of double-crested. Although not the best picture, what are peoples opinion of it being a 'sinensis' Cormorant? Here's an interesting link from the excellent Portland Obs web-site which shows 'carbo' and 'sinensis' (scroll down to bottom of page) and I've also included a picture from the Paxton site shown gular patch angles. Any comments on this bird and the status of 'sinensis' in Wales or the North west would be appreciated.


  1. I would contact the Seaforth boys for their opinion. They had conflicting views in the past in the NW region. ((Birds of Lancs and N. Merseyside).

  2. Blimey, my past is catching up on me. I used to run the Paxton website and remember posting that diagram up there years ago!

    Having spent many hours counting cormorants into the winter roost and at the nesting colony at Paxton (Cambridgeshire), there are two things worth noting. One is that to use the gular patch angle, you really need to see the bird's head at 90 degrees; it's amazing how hard it is at any other angle. The second is that there are quite a lot of cormorants, in eastern Britain at any rate, that fall into the overlap zone - whether these are results of mixed subspecies pairings or simply evidence that the two races have always mixed historically, I've no idea.

    As to the photo, given the angle, I think it's a pretty good candidate for sinensis. The strength of the orange colour is notable, especially for outside the breeding season, so I can understand why your thoughts turned to DCC - remember Cleveland...

    I think it would be interesting to know the status of sinensis in Wales; farther east, there's quite a population, though the inland colonies tend to be founded by sinensis, the carbos then follow them in, and many of the more mature colonies such as Paxton, Attenborough and Abberton are now carb-dominated. We could all do with noting the gular patch of any cormorants that we see at 90 degrees, though accepting that they can't all be nailed.

  3. Great reply Julian - cheers. I don't thnk any work has been done on the status of sinensis in Wales - I've had a couple of good candidates around the Welshpool area, but never nailed one.
    I certainly do remember the DCC! I duck every time I see a skip on the back of a lorry to this day!!!!