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Hunting Shag...soon to be a Cormorant!?

Observed: 19th January 2013 By: nightflynightfly’s reputation in Birdsnightfly’s reputation in Birdsnightfly’s reputation in Birds
19 Jan 13 (19)
19 Jan 13 (15)
19 Jan 13 (17)

The only other image I took is added, 3rd pic.

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Just wonder whether the head, peaked at the rear rather than the front, is that of a Cormorant? Angle of head and wet feathers make it harder to judge, perhaps.


My Flickr photos...

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Hi Ian,It seemed very

Hi Ian,

It seemed very slender in body and in the shape of the head so I put it down as a shag, I'm not 100% certain though. ID only based on its slight build which I thought meant shag?


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Ian,I dont think there was


I dont think there was any chance of a peak at the front being possible in the circumstances as the bird was working constantly, diving and surfacing. It was difficult to find it on the screen in time before it went under again. As you can see in the first pic, it is in the process of diving again. Very wet head!


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Hi Graham and Ian, I'm

Hi Graham and Ian,

I'm finding the shag/cormorant differentiation confusing now. Having looked at the RSPB page on both, one thing I can say about the above bird is it doesnt seem to have enough height to the forehead but I wonder is that due to being wet.

Graham here is a bird with white on its chin photographed in exactly the same location and 13 people have agreed that as a shag. Its head is dry and it has the seemingly diagnostic shag hair do.

I was with Raptor the day he took that image and as far as I could see the bird I snapped yesterday was the same thing- I may be utterly wrong.... startin to look that way!!


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Another juvenile shag snapped

Another juvenile shag snapped at the same location with a very pale chin and a dry hair do.

Edit- here's one with a nice peak to the front of the head (shag like) from the same location also with a white chin and IDed as shag.

I'm beginning to wonder if large juvenile shag and cormorant require very close inspection, ie are they extremely similar looking?


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A good selection of Shag

A good selection of Shag images on this Hebridean webpage, many of which showing unpeaked foreheads, rather flat and tapered heads. In particular, if they are indeed shag and they appear to be:


I'd welcome further feedback on this bird because since wrongly IDing one as cormorant about a year ago I thought I had learned to differentiate. I was sure the smaller proportions of and very slender bill of the above bird meant it was a shag. I want to get a good handle on their differentiation and if they are particularly tricky to seperate as juveniles I want to be aware and prepared for that too! Thanks.