Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Joe Dickinson sent some photographs of cormorants; his comments are indented.

Walking recently along the Eastcliff pedestrian path in Santa Cruz, we had a nice look at some cormorants in the lower branches of a tree hanging out over the cliff.  That prompted me to go to my archives for some other favorite shots of cormorants and their cousins.

First the instigators, a pair of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus), one in a characteristic pose with wings spread to dry.


Two other species found locally are Brandt’s cormorant (P. penicillatus), seen here on a seaweed nest atop a piling, and the pelagic cormorant (P. pelagicus) shown as a pair in graceful ballet on a pier railing.  Both are at Moss Landing, a few miles down the coast.



Here are a couple of shots of the flightless Galapagos cormorant (P. harrisi).  This is the only flightless cormorant, but loss of flight is, of course, fairly common in island endemics.  Note the greatly reduced wing size.



Here is an African reed cormorant (Microcarbo africanus) seen at Chobe National Park in Botswana a few years ago.


That last bird was mistakenly identified by our guide as an anhinga (sister group to cormorants).  The resemblance (general build) is evident in this actual anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) seen in the Florida Everglades.  The second shot shows that same wings-spread pose.  There is an African species of anhinga, also called the African Darter but, like the American species, it has a straight beak without the hook seen in all of the cormorants.



Finally, another pelagic cormorant in a sort of “me-and-my-shadow” shot with a slightly more distant cousin, the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis).  They were photographed a bit up the coast from Santa Cruz at Wilder Ranch State Park.



  1. DrBrydon
    Posted January 19, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Other readers are such good photographers. I always (well except for the spiders) love their wildlife pix, especially birds. The first one here, of the Cormorants, reminds me of an old Audubon print my folks had.

  2. rickflick
    Posted January 19, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Nice group of pictures Joe.
    One thing about cormorants that I really like it the way they fly – fast and low just over the water with rapid wing beats. Even at a great distance you can identify them by their weird flight.

  3. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted January 19, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    That is a completely masterful and thorough personal documentation of just one group of specialized birds! I am rather blown away. Thank you for sharing.

  4. keith Cook ¿
    Posted January 19, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Great shots.. thanks. The 2nd to last is a bazaar pose.

  5. Mark R.
    Posted January 19, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I love how the African Reed Cormorant is clutching the branch with its webbed feet. I don’t think I’ve seen a bird with webbed feet perching like that. Either way, thanks for sharing these great shots.

  6. Posted January 19, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I like very much the last photo. Also the previous one, it looks like nature imitating Henri Rousseau.

  7. Mike
    Posted January 20, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Lovely Photographs.

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