LITTLE PIED CORMORANT – ( Phalacrocorax melanoleucos)

This image was actually made walking home as the sun lowered in the sky, casting a golden glow over the whole area.

Yesterday was one of the most beautiful Sundays in Melbourne we’ve had for weeks and it seemed like everyone was outdoors in order to make the best of a perfect Winter day.  It was almost, (but not quite), WINDLESS!  A windless day in Melbourne is pretty rare, but most non-photographers probably don’t notice that.

Anyway, I sat at my desk totally overwhelmed by indecision.   I couldn’t decide where to go and what to do.  This  inability to make decisions has resulted in more afternoons at home than I would care to admit.  Lately, sometimes I think my brain is declining quicker than my body 🙂

In the end I decided to just pack my cameras (all 3) into my old wire shopping trolley, attache my tiny backpack to the back and water bottle to the front of the basket, walk down to the Maribyrnong River and decide ‘upriver’ or downriver’ when I got there.


Yesterday, I had the good fortune to spot 3 Little Pied Cormorants close to the river bank straight away and I spent some time trying to capture them within the frame.  Initially, I was too far downriver of their position and the sun was in my eyes, so I walked about 15 feet to an upriver position and tried again.  One of the Cormorants actually landed on the rocky bank about 6 feet away from me, but that didn’t mean it was easy to photograph.

Sometimes I think birds turn their head away deliberately to tease me.

The Willy Wagtails certainly do, but those fiercely territorial little birds are always on the move anyway.  The Willy Wagtails certainly move their tails backwards and forwards even when standing still, so getting a good shot usually takes time and a lot of patience OR….. a lucky shot.

Here’s the resulting series of shots I made…Cormorants sun-baking are definitely easier to photograph than some bird species.

Anyway, it was all good fun.

I then walked on upriver to Pipemakers Park for a couple of hours of Photography.  This park area is actually only 10 minutes walk if I walk via the shortcut around Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and don’t make any photo stops.  I can turn a 10 (or even 5) minute walk into 2 hours quite easily.

While we’re on the subject of Little Pied Cormorants……

At the end of the afternoon as I was walking home, I was amazed to see about 40-50 Little Pied Cormorants flying upriver.  They dropped down to the river surface near where I was standing and all dove under the water hunting for food in the murky depths.  Most popped their heads up in unison, took some more breaths and dove down again.  They repeated this several more times and then all arose into the air and flew off upriver.  All my shots of the birds rising from the water in flight were too blurred to keep.

This was truly the most extraordinary sight I had seen on the river since moving to this suburb 7 months ago.

I have never seen so many of the same species flying overhead and then feeding together on the Maribyrnong River near my home.  Of course, I was looking into the brilliant late afternoon sun and I can’t shoot flying or fast-moving birds ‘for peanuts’ so you’ll have to use your imagination.   The following images just give you a hint of the spectacular sight.

You just had to be there to experience the thrill of the afternoon.  The following slideshow shows only part of the enormous flock.

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4 thoughts on “LITTLE PIED CORMORANT – ( Phalacrocorax melanoleucos)

  1. We have both cormorants and coots, but different species. They’re similar enough in appearance that I would have recognized yours, though. You would love our cormorants. There’s a large group that rests on some power lines every night in certain seasons. They’re right above one of the busiest highways in the area, and quite impressive. I suppose there might be a hundred, or even more. I’ve never seen them fishing together, though. They just gather there at night, and then head in different directions during the day.

    I laughed at “Willy Wagtail.” That’s a new one for me, and a wonderful name.


    1. I think that Eurasian Coot with the white beak is the same one found in several countries, going by the bird blogs I’ve viewed. I’ve only photographed a few common birds/ducks in this area and there’s supposed to be over 100 species in the nature reserve 100 feet from my apartment ‘back door’. Trouble is that the reserve is so overgrown, it’s almost impossible to go more than 10-15 feet in to it. The local council really need to thin out the 9’foot high grasses and water reeds around the lake so that locals & visitors can get to see the bird life (especially bird lovers like me with a camera in hand 🙂 ).


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