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Thread: Cormorant Portraits

  1. #1
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    Default Cormorant Portraits

    The cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) is a bird which frequently is falsely accused for many bad things and not liked at all by ignorant nature romantic people here in Sweden (the majority of the population). One of the major complaints one can hear is that "they look like dragons" or that the small forrested islands where they choose to place their colonies die after a few years and become dead rocks with ghostly trees all covered by white guana. Nobody seems to appreciate the extraordinary greenery that is produced some 50 years later when the birds have left the colony...

    Although the dragon similarity, they are very photogenic. So when I came across a family of cormorants this weekend, I couldn't resists taking their photographs:


    Mrs. Cormorant in Profile:



    Mrs. Cormorant Face On:



    Twister-sister Face On:



    Kid at 3/4 Angle:



    The fact is that these remarkable birds contribute more than most species to an eco-system with a rich content of species. For example, some very rare insects and plants are specialized in living in the harsh environment such a bird colony constitutes and can only be found there. Those organisms play a very imortant role for re-claiming the cormorant colony islands when deserted. Also, it has turned out that cormorants now are a major part of the prey of white-tailed eagles - something the nature romantic cormorant haters don't want to think of.

    Cheers, Jens.

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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Hi Jens,

    What a great series of photos! Ialso liked your comments about the species. Thanks for sharing.
    Jim
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Exceptionally nice bird captures! I find it very difficult to capture feather detail properly. You've also demonstrated again the extremely nice quality of the E-1's incamera JPGs.
    Good shooting,
    English Bob

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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Very nice shots and I also enjoyed the commentary.
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Beautiful shots! And interesting information as well, thanks!
    Pete

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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Thanks for the nice comments.

    EB, as you noted, I use the excellent SHQ quality that the E-1 produces. I hope the E-510 will give as good SHQ files.

    My trick to achieve the best feather detail is to turn down in-camera contrast as well as sharpness to their minima, and expose with the histogram 'to the right'.
    In post processing, I first stretch the histogram almost to the edges, then apply the action "Clarify" in PSP (which approximately is a 10-20% unsharp mask with more than 100 pixels radius). Clarify may desaturate the image somewhat so a slight saturation increase is often needed after that. Finally, I apply a mild sharpening with Focus Magic (blur width = 2).
    After downsizing for web-publishing I repeat FM with blur width = 1.

    Cheers, Jens
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Thank you for these beautiful portraits Jens, I love cormorants. I find it hard to get a decent shot of them here for they are very shy (fishermen hunted them because they eat the fisherman's fish) They can be seen sitting on street lighting poles however, drying their wings in that typical pose. I enjoyed the story too.
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Amazing thanks for sharing.
    Lara P
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Jens,

    The first and last are my favourites of that very excellent series, they are visually striking birds. I didn't know that they systematically moved colonies - is it known why that happens?
    John
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Thanks Henk, Lara, and John.

    John, I don't know if they systematically move but the population has significant natural variations so colonies come and go.

    Unfortunately, here in Sweden, we have had several non-natural cases of cormorants abandoning the colonies: Namely; human sabotage by smashing the eggs or cutting down the trees. (That is a major task as there can be several thousands of pairs in one colony. I don't understand how men and women in a modern society like ours can have developed such fobia against a natuarally occurring bird that makes no harm at all compared to what the humans do themselves.)

    Cheers, Jens.
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Man these are very nice pictures. Well done.

    We have these birds here in Magdeleine Island's and most every one here wish they go away. We have small islands around and from time to time they all change spot all together at the same time. Now that they have change island, the vegetation is starting to grow back on it cause their crap is so acid that no vegetation could live and now, fish and tall heron's population is starting to come back to that island as well.

    I have found earlier this year where they have set foot, its an other small island just about 200 meters off shore. Believe it or not, this island is all ready covered in white "poop" and the big pond about 300 meters from there is all ready fish dry. These birds kill, infest, invade till all natural resource's are to low for them to survive. Then they move to an other part of the region. I say that this population could be between 1000 and 2000 and growing.
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by Noise_Filter View Post
    Man these are very nice pictures. Well done.
    ..snip...
    These birds kill, infest, invade till all natural resource's are to low for them to survive. Then they move to an other part of the region.... snip...
    So it looks as though the shifting of colonies may be natural, rather than as a result of interference. Interesting, I'd not heard of birds doing that.

    I know another species which kills, infests and invades till all natural resources are too low, by the way.
    John
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Thanks for liking the images Noise_Filter.

    I'm not surprised that we don't share the oppinion about the nature of these birds. Never mind, as I wrote 95% of the Swedes dislike these birds as well.

    However, most of the complaints I hear are from an aestetic point of view, from people living or have their liesure activities close by their colonies. Sure it looks ugly and smells but nature is the place for these birds and nature is not a park. Looking at a larger perspective, their colonies are not that closely spaced at all and they can easily be avoided if someone dislike the view (or smell ;-) ). (Unless you happen to live just opposite to the island - but that would affect very few people.)
    Also coastal fishermen are frequent complainers but they should think twice. Here in the Baltic sea, the high sea fishing industry has almost ended the large fish (mostly cod) which normally is decimating the amount of small fish. Thus, this have given room for the cormorants to take the place of the large fish, hence they increase in numbers. It is not the other way around as most fishermen seems to believe. I agree that it is bad when they start fishing in nearby ponds but in the sea they do no harm as the fishermen are not interested in the small fish they normally take.

    If we had a balanced fishing in the sea, taking less of the predators for the cormaorant's food, we would also have a smaller and balanced number of cormorants. And the coastal fishermen would have more to catch as well.

    Cheers, Jens.
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by jdal View Post

    I know another species which kills, infests and invades till all natural resources are too low, by the way.

    My wife?
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by Noise_Filter View Post
    My wife?
    ROFL

    Another 4thirder who'se wife doesn't read the forums.
    John
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    That's funny Noise!

    And John is dubbed our own forum psychologist?

    Cheers, Jens.
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by jebir View Post
    Thanks for liking the images Noise_Filter.

    I'm not surprised that we don't share the oppinion about the nature of these birds. Never mind, as I wrote 95% of the Swedes dislike these birds as well.

    However, most of the complaints I hear are from an aestetic point of view, from people living or have their liesure activities close by their colonies. Sure it looks ugly and smells but nature is the place for these birds and nature is not a park. Looking at a larger perspective, their colonies are not that closely spaced at all and they can easily be avoided if someone dislike the view (or smell ;-) ). (Unless you happen to live just opposite to the island - but that would affect very few people.)
    Also coastal fishermen are frequent complainers but they should think twice. Here in the Baltic sea, the high sea fishing industry has almost ended the large fish (mostly cod) which normally is decimating the amount of small fish. Thus, this have given room for the cormorants to take the place of the large fish, hence they increase in numbers. It is not the other way around as most fishermen seems to believe. I agree that it is bad when they start fishing in nearby ponds but in the sea they do no harm as the fishermen are not interested in the small fish they normally take.

    If we had a balanced fishing in the sea, taking less of the predators for the cormaorant's food, we would also have a smaller and balanced number of cormorants. And the coastal fishermen would have more to catch as well.

    Cheers, Jens.


    Dont get me wrong, i do think its a beautifully bird, i just think its a shame that it destroys so much. Now that they live there, ducks are gone, tall herons to and only a few seagulls remains. I go shooting pictures to this particular big pond or small lake about 5 times a week and let me tell you that when a duck dived down to catch a fish, all the fish would jump out of water trying not to get an other day to live. What a scene it was, then i saw a duck come out with a small fish of some kind. But now, the more i go there the more it saddens me to see about 60% of wild life just vanish in a matter of months.


    Heres cormorant on take off i shot not to long ago.


    I sure hope im not hijacking your thread by me posting one of my pictures. If any problem with that just let me know.
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    No problem Noise-Filter,

    it is an interesting image as it shows one of the unique features of cormorants (and anahingas): The wings can be seen to be all wetted by water as it takes off. On all other swimming birds the water doesn't wet the plumage which help them keep floating, dry, and warm. Cormorants lack the greasy stuff on their plumage so it soaks. That is why they can swim with only the head above the water and dive very quickly. It is also the reason for them to take the characteristic position with spread wings because they won't dry otherwise. Ducks and geese don't need to do that as they never get wet in the first place.

    I'd also like to say that I enjoyed our little discussion.

    Cheers, Jens.
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by Noise_Filter View Post
    My wife?
    Oh that's just wrong.
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Wonderful images, Jens. We have a group of about ten to twenty cormorants that stay at the fort I live next to a few weeks twice a year before moving on north or south depending on the season. So far I have not been able to get very usable shots of them as they sit high in the trees on the other side of the water.
    Luc

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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    These are great close-ups Jens, not an east task by any means. The first is really outstanding for the pose and capture of the faint green iridescense.

    Nicely done.......
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Thanks Luc and Charles.

    Luc, yes, I'm glad I had the time to sneak up to these which were sitting on a raft by the quai. I spent about 1/2 hour crawling on my belly in some of my best clothes (I was at a 50 years aniversary but couldn't resist this opportunity), so I'm glad it paid off!

    Charles, the green irridiscence was not so apparent on this male bird. I guess the plumage is a bit worn after the breeding season.

    Cheers, Jens
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Jens, excellent photo's, look at those eyes, , perfect. ty Peter
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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Great photos Jens I find it impossible to understand why people dislike cormorants so much. There's beauty in all nature if you take the time to look.
    Best wishes

    Paul

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    Default Re: Cormorant Portraits

    Those are great shots, Jens...and the ensuing discussion has been very educational...
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