Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blue, Blue, Blue

...



There may have been good news for the Double Crested Cormorant, but I just read that there is a mysterious illness plaguing Brandt's Cormorants. Breeding populations -- and success rates -- are at a twenty year low on the Farallon Islands, sick birds are being picked up for treatment, and birds carcasses are turning up on local beaches. Let's hope this is a fluke, and not part of a larger negative trend for these spectacular birds.




When Robb was just home from the hospital, after his accident, I saw photos of Brandt's Cormorants doing their incredible mating displays and I just about lost my mind. Partly, this was because I was in such awe of the physical appearance of these animals, and partly (I can admit now) that I never thought we would be going hiking again, or be able to go out to see exotic wildlife like these birds. Something about looking at those photos made me feel pathetically sorry for myself.

But that was a long time ago, and thing are better for us.

I took my own photos of Brandt's Cormorants last June after a splendid letterboxing event, down in Monterey. There were hundreds and hundreds of these animals, on the rocks at the end of one of the Naval Piers, just past the equally vast and rowdy crowds of California Sea Lions. Robb and I were spending the day, cycling around Monterey Bay, gawking at wildlife, and drinking coffee in cute little cafes.

It is hard to imagine feeling sorry for ourselves at all. When I look back, life seems pretty darn awesome. In fact, it sounds suspiciously like a cliched personal ad. "I like cycling, long walks on the beach, and dallying in cafes." Well, duh. Who doesn't? In our case, our long walks really do take a rather long time.



I still have a freakish overwhelming urge to touch a Brandt's Cormorant's chin. I just cannot fathom what that blue surface is made of, or might feel like.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

So I was curious about the Brandt's cormorant mating dance, and being the lazy person I am, instead of going out to actually find some birds to watch, just flipped on our youtube...but in looking for it, found this...LOVE the blue footed booby.
: )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYmzdvMoUUA

greg said...

I spend a night on Alcatraz a few years ago recording Brandt's Cormorant nesting sites. It's interesting to see because the sites are mostly equidistant from each other, just out of beak range of the one next to them. It looks like a bird suburb. (I was going to say "planned community" but...)

Anyway the link below has some low, croaky Cormorant voices on it for those that are interested. There are also a mating pair of Canada Geese, Western Gulls, and a high pitched Pigeon Guillamot.

http://gregweddig.net/?p=43

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

That video was pretty great, and Brandt's Cormorants do the same ritual offering of nesting materials.

I was *not* impressed by the bone-heads taking the video who were standing right next to the animals and whistling and waving at the birds, trying to get them to (what?) look at the camera.

Interrupting mating behavior is about the biggest nature no-no I can think of.

Imagine if you were childless, and desperate to be parents, and some gigantic stranger kept busting into your bedroom, and asking "Hey, watcha doin'? Hey, watcha doin'?" again and again.

It would sort of kill the mating impulse, wouldn't it?

gollygee said...

They are just beautiful! :)

Anonymous said...

Alcatraz is supposed to be haunted- how do you know you recorded the sounds of birds, and not Al Capone's wailing as he plays his bejeweled banjo in prison as he slowly goes insane?

Thats all I wanna know...

Annalisa

greg said...

Because Mr. Capone and I had a recording session later in the evening. H knows how to pick!

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