Gannets, Cormorants and Pelicans (Suliformes)
These are medium sized and large water birds found worldwide. As traditionally-but erroneously- defined, they encompass all birds that have feet with all four toes webbed. Most have a bare throat patch (gular patch), and the nostrils have evolved into dysfunctional slits, forcing them to breath through their mouths. They feed on fish, squid or similar marine life. Nesting is colonial, but individual birds are monogamous. They lack a brood patch.
Recent genetic studies has provided evidence that the traditional Order Pelecaniformes does not reflect the true evolutionary relationship. Cormorant are now proposed to belong to the Order Suliformes.
Further Information: Wikipedia
There is no consistent distinction between cormorants and shags. The names “cormorant” and “shag” were originally the common names of the two species of the family found in Great Britain, Phalacrocorax carbo (now referred to by ornithologists as the Great Cormorant) and P. aristotelis (the European Shag). All are fish-eaters, dining on small eels, fish, and even water snakes. They dive from the surface, though many species make a characteristic half-jump as they dive, presumably to give themselves a more streamlined entry into the water. Under water they propel themselves with their feet. Some cormorant species have been found, using depth gauges, to dive to depths of as much as 45 metres.
|Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)||Resident|
This is a very common and widespread bird species. It feeds on the sea, in estuaries, and on freshwater lakes and rivers. Northern birds migrate south and winter along any coast that is well-supplied with fish.
Where these can be seen: outside the breeding season, fishing in the oysterbed lagoon, roosting on high ground and fishing offshore. They are unlikely to be seen in the lagoon and lagoon islands during the breeding season.
|Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)||Resident|
The European Shag or Common Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) is a species of cormorant. It breeds around the rocky coasts of western and southern Europe, southwest Asia and north Africa, mainly wintering in its breeding range except for northernmost birds. In Britain this seabird is usually referred to as simply the Shag
It feeds in the sea, and, unlike the Great Cormorant, is rare inland. It will winter along any coast that is well-supplied with fish.
The European Shag is one of the deepest divers among the cormorant family. Using depth gauges, European Shags have been shown to dive to at least 45 metres. European Shags are preponderantly benthic feeders, i.e. they find their prey on the sea bottom. They will eat a wide range of fish but their commonest prey is the sand eel. Shags will travel many kilometres from their roosting sites in order to feed.
Where these can be seen: These are not very common in Langstone Harbour but I have photographed them fishing near the railway bridge around high tide.