Phalacrocorax carbo (Great Cormorant) Albino

Phalacrocorax carbo (Great Cormorant) Albino

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"A rare bird on earth, and very like a black swan." Juvenal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phalacrocorax carbo Albino (Great Cormorant, Great Black Cormorant)

We have recently visited Lake Kerkini for three days with the purpose of shooting wildlife and in particular birds. On the north side of the lake there is a forest which, at this time of the year, is flooded; the lake is an artificial one so the depth of the water and the rate at which the water level changes is controlled by the relevant authorities. The forest hosts the nests of numerous species of birds, one of which is the Great Cormorant.

At this time of the year there are over 25000 cormorants in the area. This is an issue for local fishermen; in addition, such a great number of birds causes an imbalance in the habitat in more than one way. The trees on which the cormorants build their nests get destroyed by the acidity of the excrements of so many birds which in turn means that there are fewer trees available for other species to nest on. In addition other species find successfully searching for food very competitive.  

On the  13/6/2011 we spotted on a tree a white bird amongst the (black) cormorants. Our initial thought was that it was a white heron (Ardea alba) resting amongst the cormorants. Yet the posture and behaviour of this bird was not typical of a white heron. When we checked the bird with our binoculars we realised it was an albino cormorant! 

We carefully approached the tree in a boat and stayed for a while, observing the bird: it was sitting with its head raised upwards flapping its wings. When the boat was close enough for the cormorant to realise we were observing it (the bird could, at this stage, spot our heads protruding under the cover on the boat) it folded its wings and assumed a normal position, without however showing signs of fear or readiness to depart.

The albino appeared to be 'socialising' with the rest of the cormorants well: on the same tree we spotted a number of young cormorants, occasionally adults too. These birds did not appear to take exception to the presence of the albino or try to harass it.

Though it is difficult to determine with certainty the age of the albino cormorant due to the absence of colouration on its plumage and head we got the impression this was a young bird that had hatched earlier in the year. At times it was sitting inside a nest nearby but most of the time it was assuming the characteristic standing position, making its presence known.

We visited the spot twice during the course of about an hour and a half; we observed the bird for 40 minutes in total. Sighting of an albino cormorant is a particularly rare occurence; we understand that the ratio of albino to regular colouration cormorants is 1:250.000-1.000.000 birds. We saw just one such bird among the 25.000 cormorants which live in Kerkini lake presently; we had never seen an albino bird before despite the fact that there are literally hundreds of cormorants in Strophylia reserve where we usually go for long photoshoots. We asked the managing authority of lake Kerkini, the fishermen as well as the boatmen who make daily tours of the lake with tourists but nobody had ever seen this bird. We took a number of photographs, always careful not to disturb the bird. We have subsequently been approached by the regulatory authority of Lake Kerkini as well as by the Greek Ornithological Society requesting some of these photos, which we gladly shared. Needless to say we are very happy and proud to have spotted and photographed this bird ourselves.

Lake Kerkini is a must-visit place for lovers of wildlife, especially birds. However, as this is a nesting and reproduction area for a number of species visiting during the reproductive season can be dangerous for the birds in more than one way. For example the birds may get overly stressed, the eggs may be destroyed, the hatchlings may end up falling off the nests or the parent birds may abandon the nest.  It is therefore imperative that visitors get in touch with the management authority of Lake Kerkini  prior to approaching the nesting areas to get information regarding the spots which can be visited safely (i.e. without disturbing the nests or birds). The management authority of the lake can be contacted by phone on ++30 2327028004.

Photos by Mahi Goula and George Parchas

Shooting Data:

1.Camera: Canon EOS 5D
Lens: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM - 400mm
Sensitivity: ISO 400
Shutter speed - aperture: 1/2000 sec - f/8, Manual mode
Flash: No
Image: RAW edited in Photoshop CS4, levels adjusted, sharpening added saved as JPEG and resized.

2. Camera: Canon EOS 5D
Lens: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM - 100mm
Sensitivity: ISO 400
Shutter speed - aperture: 1/2000 sec - f/8, Manual mode
Flash: No
Image: RAW edited in Photoshop CS4, levels adjusted, sharpening added saved as JPEG and resized.

3. Camera: Canon EOS 5D
Lens: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM - 400mm
Sensitivity: ISO 400
Shutter speed - aperture: 1/2500 sec - f/8, Manual mode
Flash: No
Image: RAW edited in Photoshop CS4, levels adjusted, sharpening added saved as JPEG and resized.

4. Camera: Canon EOS 5D
Lens: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM - 375mm
Sensitivity: ISO 400
Shutter speed - aperture: 1/3200 sec - f/8, Manual mode
Flash: No
Image: RAW edited in Photoshop CS4, levels adjusted, sharpening added saved as JPEG and resized.

5. Camera: Canon EOS 5D
Lens: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM - 400mm
Sensitivity: ISO 100
Shutter speed - aperture: 1/1000 sec - f/9, Manual mode
Flash: No
Image: RAW edited in Photoshop CS4, levels adjusted, sharpening added saved as JPEG and resized.

6. Camera: Canon EOS 5D
Lens: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM - 400mm
Sensitivity: ISO 400
Shutter speed - aperture: 1/2000 sec - f/7.1, Manual mode
Flash: No
Image: RAW edited in Photoshop CS4, levels adjusted, sharpening added saved as JPEG and resized.

7. Camera: Canon EOS 5D
Lens: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM - 310mm
Sensitivity: ISO 200
Shutter speed - aperture: 1/2500 sec – f/10, Manual mode
Flash: No
Image: RAW edited in Photoshop CS4, levels adjusted, sharpening added saved as JPEG and resized.

8. Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II- 200mm
Sensitivity: ISO 200
Shutter speed - aperture: 1/3200 sec - f/4, Manual mode
Flash: No
Image: RAW edited in Photoshop CS4, levels adjusted, sharpening added saved as JPEG and resized.

9. Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II- 190mm
Sensitivity: ISO 200
Shutter speed - aperture: 1/4000 sec - f/4, Manual mode
Flash: No
Image: RAW edited in Photoshop CS4, levels adjusted, sharpening added saved as JPEG and resized.

10. Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II- 70mm
Sensitivity: ISO 200
Shutter speed - aperture: 1/4000 sec - f/4, Manual mode
Flash: No
Image: RAW edited in Photoshop CS4, levels adjusted, sharpening added saved as JPEG and resized.

11. Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II- 182mm
Sensitivity: ISO 200
Shutter speed - aperture: 1/4000 sec - f/4, Manual mode
Flash: No
Image: RAW edited in Photoshop CS4, levels adjusted, sharpening added saved as JPEG and resized.

12. Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II- 200mm
Sensitivity: ISO 100
Shutter speed - aperture: 1/1250 sec - f/5, Manual mode
Flash: No
Image: RAW edited in Photoshop CS4, levels adjusted, sharpening added saved as JPEG and resized.

13. Camera: Canon EOS 7D
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II- 200mm
Sensitivity: ISO 200
Shutter speed - aperture: 1/1000 sec - f/4.5, Manual mode
Flash: No
Image: RAW edited in Photoshop CS4, levels adjusted, sharpening added saved as JPEG and resized. 

 

These photographs cannot be reproduced without the written permission of the photographers. Please contact the  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

A photo of this rare bird by Mahi Goula and George Parchas was published in August 2011 by National Geographic, Greece.