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.