We’ve had a few cormorants here before – the pied cormorant, and the little black cormorant – so when we saw this huge bird sitting on our jetty, we both exclaimed “What’s that!” and rushed for the Field Guide to Australian Birds.   Turns out this is the Great Cormorant which can grow up to 92cm.

We think this bird has visited once before, and at the time thought it may have been a Darter, a similar sized bird with similar colouring, but with a very long sharply pointed beak. When he had a closer look, we noticed the downward ‘hook’ curve at the end of the beak which is quite a distinghishing feature of the Great Cormorant.

While it may have been there for some time, we first noticed the cormorant at around 5:30pm.  From the plumage and the description in our field guide, we think this is a non-breeding adult bird, although it doesn’t seem to have a fluffy black crest on the back of its head.  (Immature birds are much lighter in colour, and breeding birds have fine white streaks on their neck.) Perhaps it is a young adult.

I grabbed the camera, and walked slowly down toward the dam, hiding behind a few trees to avoid scaring it.  On the journey down, the Great Cormorant moved from the front of the jetty to the back of the jetty, so it was aware of my presence and wary.  I stopped  moving. The photos shown here are taken at that moment.  I decided not to risk going closer.

We checked every hour or so, and the bird was still there well after the sun set, so perhaps it roosted on the jetty overnight.  When we arose the next morning, it was gone.

Great Cormorant
The size of the Great Cormorant is striking.
Great Cormorant
According to Pizzey and Knigh’s Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, the Great Cormorant can grow up to 92cm with a wing span of up to 1.5m
Great Cormorant
This bird appears to be a young non-breeding adult
Great Cormorant
The Great Cormorant was aware of my presence and very wary.
Great Cormorant
We think the Great Cormorant roosed overnight on our jetty.  It certainly had a good grip – look at the size of its feet!
Great Cormorant
This photo shows the black head and neck in contrast to the dark bronze of the back.