Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Black-faced - a handsome cormorant, Birds of Phillip Island

'Traveled with Richard and nephew Moses to Cat Bay at the weekend which is reportedly a haunt for Black-faced cormorant. Unlike the other cormorants we see in Australia this fellow sticks to the coast and offshore islands of southern Australia. As a result, it is a cormorant that one has to go and look for rather than encounter incidentally. Having said that it is my experience that they are extremely sedentary - returning to a previous black-faced haunt is generally successful.

Black-faced cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscescens
This particular haunt is Flynn's Beach at Phillip Island's Cat Bay. It is easy to see the remains of an old jetty looking NE from the Cat Bay car park and on it there are often cormorants. I understand the jetty was built to unload passengers visiting a Phillip Island resort lodge in the days before the large bridge at San Remo. Guests would stay at the lodge and be taken to see the nightly arrival of a colony of Little penguin Eudyptula minor. This event is now promoted internationally as the famed Penguin Parade.

With binoculars check from the car park for the presence of cormorants and then enjoy the beach walk. The old jetty pylons may be approached from the Cat Bay or Flynn's Beach car parks. There is also an unmarked management track that leads from the main road opposite the Penguin Parade buildings. This is hard to find but leads straight to the pylons.

Black-faced cormorant, Flynn's Beach, Phillip Island

One of those iphone panorama shots (markedly exaggerating the curve of the bay)
Seven Black-faced cormorants - also a Great cormorant (top right) and a Little pied cormorant (middle right)

Comparison view Black-faced and Great cormorant
Little pied coromorant
On this occasion we did approach from the dune lending this initial view of the scene:

The birds were quite relaxed with our presence, only the Great cormorant flew off. I have found another reliable place for Black-faced cormorant is the Port Fairy's Moyne River rocky breakwater. Again the bird tolerated very close inspection:

Black-faced cormorant, Port Fairy
Perhaps not so endearing close-up but generally the striking pied look with brilliant white and no other colour makes for a generally handsome cormorant ("no other colour" except for that piercing green-blue eye)!

Also likeable 'cos they enjoy a good laugh!
Sharing with Wild Bird Wednesday

Bird on!


  1. We nearly always see them when we go on a trip to Mud Islands when the boat stops to allow everyone to have a look at Gannets and sometimes seals on a marker in the bay. Their eyes really are striking.

  2. I've always been curious about this bird, so it's great to see so many lovely shots of it. I can't see anything about its physical design that is so different from its relatives, yet they all tolerate freshwater too. It seems like the misunderstood, isolated out-cast of the family! :)

  3. great shots; lovely scenery where you were too Pete. Aren't those retired piers and jetties just the spot for these birds?!

  4. WOW! These are super! and that eye ...... striking!

  5. These are so much prettier than our double breasted cormorants! Love the white on the face and down the front. So exotic looking! Visiting from Wild Bird Wednesday. :)

  6. absolutely love the portrait shot, what a stunning bird

  7. Great photos of interesting birds. I have yet to see that cormorant - So many birds! So many places! So little time!