Deer and Cormorants in the Hamptons

One day in mid-October, coming over the dunes on a boardwalked path, Esau the dog and I encountered a single white-tailed deer. Alert, the deer watches us.

deer near Flying Point Beach

Alert.

Equally alert, Esau watches the deer.

gray dog, gray boardwalk

Also alert.

Suddenly, the deer bounds off into the brush.

white-tailed deer

In case you were wondering why it’s called a white-tailed deer…

Esau and I continue our walk through the moors beyond Channel Pond,

through the moors

A path through the Hampton moors.

passing through tall reeds and small ponds.

Gorgeous habitat for birds, deer, foxes and more.

Double-crested cormorants gathered in one of the ponds, possibly Jule Pond or Phillips Pond.

flock of cormorants

A collection of cormorants.

As we watched, more cormorants came flapping in.

flying cormorants

Cormorants fly over the reeds.

I’m guessing that these birds are migrants gathering in a resting spot before they continue southward.

Cormorants coming in for a landing.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so many cormorants at once.

Cormorants, cormorants, cormorants.

I don’t have my binoculars with me, but I can see that many of the birds are juveniles, not yet in their full black plumage. Below is a juvenile cormorant I found dead by the side of the road in 2010.

juvenile cormorant

Dead cormorant by side of the road.

And here, by way of contrast, is an adult cormorant drying its wings in NYC’s Morningside Park in spring 2011.

cormorant with one wing extended

An adult cormorant dries its wings after fishing in Morningside Park’s tiny pond.

And lest you imagine the cormorant is all monochromatic black, take a look at this close-up of its brilliant green eyes and orange facial skin.

cormorant in breeding plumage

Eyes like emeralds.

Note also the sharply hooked bill of this voracious fish-eater. And in case you’re wondering about the mysterious eponymous double crests, they are visible only during breeding season.

Double-crested cormorant during breeding season by Mike Baird, Flickr/Wikimedia Commons.

To my mind, the so-called crests resemble more the horns of an aging devil or Grandpa’s unruly eyebrows than the more familiar peaked crests of a bluejay, say, or a cardinal.  But other cormorants apparently find them attractive. The cormorant population, once in serious decline from DDT poisoning, has bounced back strongly since the pesticide was banned in the United States in 1972. Some fishermen consider cormorants a threat to fishing stocks, and advocate for a hunting season. In Japan, fishermen once used cormorants as a kind of living fishing rod.

fishing cormorants 1936

Photograph by W. Robert Moore, 1936. From the National Geographic book, Through the Lens: National Geographic’s Greatest Photographs, 2003

The fisherman has tied ropes around the necks of the cormorants. When one of the birds catches a fish, the rope is tightened to prevent them from swallowing the fish, which is collected by the fisherman.

The lives of wild animals can be quite bizarre, when they intersect with the lives of humans.

Explore posts in the same categories: 2012, Birds, deer, Fall, In the City, Seasons, Wildlife/Natural History

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7 Comments on “Deer and Cormorants in the Hamptons”

  1. Mr. Mantooth Says:

    Dig those eyebrows!


  2. Rather like the description of grandfather’s unruly eyebrows! Hooked beaks for tearing and attacking, quite lethal…. Amazing exploitation using birds to fish!

  3. Barbara Says:

    Never seen the double crest – fabulous to see what it actually looks like, but there are tons of cormorants in our lakes areas nowadays. However to say that when humans and wild animals interconnect the wild animals’ lives become quite bizarre is truly an understatement – but then I know that you are being sarcastic.

    Great photos of these huge wild anglers on Hamptons’ ponds…


  4. Seen close up, cormorants are beautiful, subtly-colored birds—but also extremely smelly!


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