It always comes as a shock when you find a confident individual of a species that is renowned to be shy. From past experiences, cormorants have been timid. They often prefer to stay as far away from people as possible and this trait makes them difficult birds to photograph - even with a 600mm lens! Surprisingly, that was not the case with this guy, it was a first-year bird with a big personality and very accustom around people. My initial encounter with this bird wasn’t so good, to my dismay I watched as it scared the resident nesting Great Crested Grebes away to sit on their nest. Unfortunately the nest had four eggs that had recently been laid. This caused a lot of distress for the grebes and there was a lot of commotion but I was thankful to see that none of the eggs were damaged as I watched the grebes return to their nest. As the week went on, the cormorant proved it was an excellent fisher with some amazing catches, some were even too big to swallow! One memorable catch was the remains of a fish. It dived beneath the water to only returned with a fish skeleton in its beak - its safe to say that this was quite amusing for me and other on-lookers but I imagine the cormorant was not best pleased as it continued to fish for its breakfast. They really are fish-eating monsters. But unfortunately this gives them a bad reputation amongst fishermen, it is natural though and every animal has its way to survive and a way of living, this is simply the cormorants.
As it became established to the small lake it found a favourite perch, a small rock just a few inches from a fishing peg. From the peg images were easy to create, you could lie down and it would swim towards you and hop onto the rock! It was quite bewildering to be so close and with using the 600mm lens it was hard to create full-body portraits. The 600mm did have its advantages though in achieving tight, close-up headshots, something I would not have been able to do with any other lens. I love making these sort of images, it really draws you in, especially when your subject is directly looking down the barrel of the lens. I also think that it would have a been possible to photograph it with a medium-zoom or even a wide-angle lens! This was the first real chance I have had to photograph cormorants and over the last few weeks I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Being able to get so close made me realise just how gorgeous they are. From a far, you can’t see small details, but up-close and personal I was able to see the iridescent feathers and turquoise eyes that are so beautiful! They are such posers as they dry their wings and turning up to the small lake every morning to see him perched in his favourite spot brought a smile to my face! This bird always surprises me and just as I thought these encounters couldn’t get any better, I watched as he somehow lay down on the small rock and tucked his head into his feathers and shut his eyes… It stayed on the rock for over five hours and it was honestly the best encounter I have had with the cormorant! He is still around and performing well and I hope to continue creating new and unique images of him!