Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Shag with Friend

This post is mainly about the Shag although as you can see, its friend Mr Cormorant is with him on the pier at the Long Hole at Bangor outer pier.

The European Shag or Common Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) is a species of cormorant.  It breeds around the rocky coasts of western and southern Europe, southwest Asia and north Africa, mainly wintering in its breeding range except for northernmost birds.  In Britain this seabird is usually referred to as simply the Shag.

This is a medium-large black bird (below - Shag on right), 68–78 cm long and with a 95–110 cm wingspan. It has a longish tail and yellow throat-patch. Adults have a small crest in the breeding season. It is distinguished from the Great Cormorant by its smaller size, lighter build, thinner bill, and, in breeding adults, by the crest and metallic green-tinged sheen on the feathers. lighter, narrower beak; and the juvenile shag has darker underparts. 

The European Shag's tail has 12 feathers, the Great Cormorant's 14 feathers. The green sheen on the feathers results in the alternative name "Green Cormorant" sometimes being given to the European Shag.

Its age at first breeding: 4 years 

Typical Lifespan: 12 years

Maximum recorded age of a ringed bird - actual age may be greater Maximum Recorded Age: 29 years 10 months 25 days (set in 2007)

It feeds in the sea, and, unlike the Great Cormorant, is rare inland. 
It will winter along any coast that is well-supplied with fish.

They eat fish and occasionally crustacea and molluscs.

The European Shag is one of the deepest divers among the cormorant family. Using depth gauges, European Shags have been shown to dive to at least 45 metres.  European Shags are preponderantly benthic feeders, i.e. they find their prey on the sea bottom.  They will eat a wide range of fish but their commonest prey is the sand eel. Shags will travel many kilometres from their roosting sites in order to feed.

In UK coastal waters, dive times are typically around 20–45 seconds, with a recovery time of around 15 seconds between dives; this is consistent with aerobic diving, i.e. the bird depends on the oxygen in its lungs and dissolved in its bloodstream during the dive.  When they dive, they jump out of the water first to give extra impetus to the dive.

 It breeds on coasts, nesting on rocky ledges or in crevices or small caves.  The nests are untidy heaps of rotting seaweed or twigs cemented together by the bird's own guano.  The nesting season is long, beginning in late February but some nests not starting until May or even later.  

Three eggs are laid. Their chicks hatch without down and so they rely totally on their parents for warmth, often for a period of two months before they can fly. 

Fledgling may occur at any time from early June to late August, exceptionally to mid October.

 I have really never seen a Shag in this position before.   I think he is doing his press ups!

You may have thought I was joking about these 2 birds being friends however I photographed them at this time last year also and they spend a lot of their time together.

I do hope you enjoyed this post.

Many thanks for visiting and also to those bloggers who were kind enough to leave a comment.

I am linking this post with WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY


  1. I am sorry Margaret but my smutty mind was working overtime when I saw the title to this post.
    And I love your feathered shag - and have a weak spot for cormorants too.

  2. Hi EC. You may not be the only one. lad you liked the birds and thanks for comment.

  3. amazing head-feathers - quirky

  4. He is lovely, his position reminds of the Penguin. I love his tuft and that they are friends...

  5. Great photos! And I did enjoy your post very much! It's nice that they are friends. I find Cormorants fascinating.

  6. A new bird for me- the last shot does look like he is doing his morning stretches.

  7. Good Morning Mr and Mrs Shag . . .

  8. Oh I think they are both wonderful birds, great shares Margaret~

  9. I absolutely did enjoy this post. Have never even heard of the Shag until today and I am enthralled with the idea that the two different allied species could be freinds or even perhaps mates as I know that can happen. Great pictures, adorable birds ... we have many common Cormorants here and I always enjoy watching them dive and then sit on the side of the lake drying their wings. Thank you , Margaret ...

    Andrea @ From The Sol

  10. LOL Elephant's Child, you are not alone in your thinking. I was curious to see what the post was about after reading that title too. Great pics Margaret. I always get a kick out of how birds stand on one foot for so long. I love all the different poses of them you were able to catch. Were you there a long time?

  11. Great photos Magaret, and great to have the two side by side for comparison, for people that are unsure of what they have been watching.
    All the best Gordon.

  12. Beautiful photos of these birds. Enjoy your evening, Margaret!

  13. A funny name for clown-like (looking anyway) bird! Thank you -- this one is new to me even virtually (and I'm pretty sure that's the only way I"ll ever see it!

  14. A brilliant Shag images, you shot really well.

  15. Great series on the Cormorants or Shags. The one with the crest is cool, it is neat seeing them together.

  16. I see shags along the beach here in New Zealand but have never seen one with a crest. How great they are friends. It reminds me of the dairy cows next door that have their own little groups of friends.

  17. Thank you Margaret. this is just how I am feeling today "The Shag", Thank you again for this "hill-billy from Tennessee would have never got to see these birds you post. I look forward daily just to see what you are showing us next....

  18. Distinctive little tuft on its head.

  19. Wow, Margaret! These are beautiful captures. I've not heard of the Shag. Love the crest.