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.
Equally alert, Esau watches the deer.
Suddenly, the deer bounds off into the brush.
Esau and I continue our walk through the moors beyond Channel Pond,
passing through tall reeds and small ponds.
Double-crested cormorants gathered in one of the ponds, possibly Jule Pond or Phillips Pond.
As we watched, more cormorants came flapping in.
I’m guessing that these birds are migrants gathering in a resting spot before they continue southward.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so many cormorants at once.
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.
And here, by way of contrast, is an adult cormorant drying its wings in NYC’s Morningside Park in spring 2011.
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.
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.
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.
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.2012, Birds, deer, Fall, In the City, Seasons, Wildlife/Natural History
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