COLUMN: Birds on my doorstep

I have always observed cormorants from a distance. This changed a couple of weeks ago when I opened a sliding door at my home and in stepped a little pied cormorant.

With its black webbed feet planted firmly on the linoleum, my visitor cocked its head and gazed at me through one brown eye.

When I finally managed to persuade this little interloper to step outside, it wandered up Bourke Street, flew onto the seat outside the Anglican Church and later disappeared.

The little pied cormorant is Australia's smallest cormorant and one of five cormorant species to be found along the Fleurieu Peninsula.

The other species are: the pied cormorant, the black-faced cormorant, the little black cormorant and the great cormorant.

The little pied cormorant can be identified by its size of 55cms to 65cms, its short yellow bill and its long black tail.

Upperparts are entirely black and underparts are entirely white. Its plumage is similar to that of the pied cormorant.

This species can be distinguished from the little pied cormorant by its larger size, longer horn coloured bill, blue eye-ring and yellow facial skin.

Swimming low in the water to dive to capture prey, their diet consists of fish, crustaceans, amphibians and aquatic insects.

Breeding usually takes place colonially with other waterbirds. Flat stick nests are constructed in trees or bushes in or near water. Both parents incubate the eggs and care for the young.

Being widespread throughout Australia, they can be found in fresh or salt water and are abundant in the Fleurieu region.

I have observed large numbers in trees along the Inman River and at the Goolwa barrage, as well as drying their wings on the rocks near Granite Island.

Written by Anne Somerville-Charles, (artist, composer and poet) of Victor Harbor.