Tag Archives: cormorant

My Quest for the Cormorants is Finally Successful

The AW101 is a helicopter I really like.  I saw the early development airframes when I was young and have photographed Merlins of the Royal Navy and the RAF as well as an Italian example.  Living in the Pacific Northwest, I have really wanted to photograph the Canadian CH-149 Cormorants.  I have a desk model of one that I bought in California and figured I would have seen one fly by now, but I have had rotten luck.  The Abbotsford show last year was another time when I didn’t see one fly despite it having been a principal reason for me going.

CFB Comox is a base for the Cormorant and their show this year, while interesting overall, really had me figuring they were bound to fly there.  If they had a serviceability issue, there would be a spare airframe.  If someone got called out, there would still be another airframe available.  Surely it had to work out.  Fortunately, yes, it did.

Early in the show, a Cormorant was launched and flew patterns around the airfield, initially quite high up.  I grabbed the long lens to get shots of it.  Gradually it got lower, and the shots got better.  If everything else went wrong, at least I now had a shot or two of one flying.  The show opened with a Cormorant flying in with the Canadian flag suspended beneath it (with a crew member hanging on the flag too).  Then there was a SAR demo which it was a major part of.

I shot so many images of this helicopter.  I really went overboard.  I did play around with slower shutter speeds since I was able to get lots of shots.  I tried getting down to 1/40th of a second shutter speeds and have discovered that the rotor speed of the 101 is really low.  Even at that shutter speed, the blades are pretty distinct.  Something I noticed as I was taking these shots was just how stable the Cormorant is in the hover.  I have seen plenty of rotorcraft operations and hover stability is usually pretty good for larger helicopters but the 101 really did seem to come to a halt and then sit immobile.  Very impressive.

So glad to finally have time to photograph this lovely looking airframe.  I even got the best of the sun from the day, so the yellow paint was popping.  A trip to Comox was well worthwhile.

Cormorants Aplenty on a Ferry Trip

Time for another cormorant related post today.  When taking the ferries on the various routes around Puget Sound, the infrastructure at the terminals is often popular with the cormorants.  This can mean that you can get quite close to them while on the ferry without them getting spooked.  They are also coming and going with some frequency so takeoffs and landings are common, and they will often fly quite close to the ferry.

On this trip, the angle of the light to the terminal was in my favor and I was able to get a few close-up views of the birds.  There was still some ironwork in the way of a totally clean shot, but not enough to ruin the images.  They also obliged by flying around at convenient times when I was ready to get an image and I got some of the better shots that I have taken of cormorants in recent years.

Back to Some Old Cormorant Shots

Regular readers will be shocked to see more cormorants showing up on the blog.  These aren’t even recent shots.  I can’t recall why I was running through old images, but it matters not.  All that is relevant is that I came across some older shots I have of cormorants sunning themselves which I had forgotten I had.  This got me looking for others.  The result is a few new shots of my favorite birds to share on the blog.

The Cormorant Beats Me Again

One of my goals for going to the air show at Abbotsford this year was to see a Cormorant fly.  I know this would sound like my normal interest in the bird species but this time it means the AW101 version that is flown for Search and Rescue by Canada.  Sure, I have seen plenty of 101s over the years with the British and Italian examples, but I have never seen a Canadian one before.  It was due to display during the show.  When I got there, I was delighted to see it sitting on the operating ramp.

However, my optimism was unjustified.  There was no announcement during the show about what had happened to the SAR demo, but it just didn’t happen.  The day shows did get the demo, but the Friday evening show was a no go.  It was a fun show, so I wasn’t too disappointed, but it was a little frustrating to still have never seen a Cormorant airborne.  One day…

Cormorant Nest On The Dolphin

A recent post showed some of the closest shots I have yet got of cormorants.  What I didn’t originally realize when I was shooting them but which soon became apparent was that the structure was not just a place to hang out for them.  A pair of birds had built a nest within the metalwork.  At first, this was a little obscured from where I was and hard to see.  As the ferry moved out, though, I was able to get a good view of the nest.  The main area was shaded from the sun, understandably, but it was still possible to get some shots.

As Close As I Have Got To Cormorants

There are no prizes if you know that one of my favorite birds is the cormorant.  They are just so cool in my eyes.  I am constantly struggling to get good shots of them as they are pretty reticent about being close to humans.  Who would have thought any wildlife would view us suspiciously?  One place that they do like to hang out is the structure around ferry terminals.  They are isolated from the land so have a measure of protection.  They can also go straight in to the water whenever they need to fish.

I got the camera ready when we boarded the ferry in case they were close to where we were.  Sometimes the light angle is bad, sometimes they happen to be on another structure.  Fortunately, on this trip, I got lucky.  I was really close to them.  The light angles were not ideal but it was still pretty good compared to anything I have ever got before.  The sides of the ferry are open so there is the risk that you can spook them.  However, there is something about the boat that seems to be less concerned about your presence.  It is a bit like seeing deer when you are in a car and looking out of the window.

Waterfront Birds

Walking along the shore at Edmonds, a few birds were flying around near me.  I did get a cormorant which is good and, while I don’t know many birds, I think some of these might be mergansers.  Anyone into their birds that can confirm or deny?

Cormorant Having Dinner

The shallow waters near the new ferry terminal at Mukilteo seemed to be a popular spot for the local cormorants to hunt.  For a while, there was one cormorant almost directly below me that seemed to be having a pretty successful time fishing.  A couple of times I saw it pop up and swallow something large so I spent a bit of time tracking it waiting for it to return again.  Sure enough, it popped to the surface holding a rather large looking fish.

I am not a fish expert so I don’t know what it was.  I just know it was still struggling to get away and, given the size, I was curious as to whether the bird would be able to eat it.  I clearly underestimated its capabilities as a couple of quick adjustments and the whole thing went down in one go.  I waited for it to dive again but, having had a few decent sized snacks, it was clearly letting its lunch go down.  It was a while before it dived again.  Just before it did, a bloom in the water led me to believe that it was making space for its next course.

Cormorant Posing for Me

We went out for lunch at Ray’s Boathouse one Saturday afternoon.  It was not a great day, weather wise, with fog covering Puget Sound.  I didn’t take the big camera with me but I did take the M6 along just in case there was something to see.  In front of our table on their deck was a piling which had a gull sitting on it when we got there.  The gull soon flew off and then it was replaced by a cormorant!  It must have been especially for me!  It was drying its wings after its swim and I got a few shots of it while sitting at the table.  I could have run to the car to grab the big lens but that would have interrupted our lunch a little too much!

Cormorants on the Dock

How long is it since I have had a cormorant post?  Too long, that’s how long.  Taking trips on the ferries means you can get quite close to the cormorants on the pilings in the water alongside which the ferries berth.  Of course, whenever they are close by, I don’t have a camera to hand.  One part of the dock did have a ton of them resting on it so, given my recent dearth of cormorant shots, I felt I had to do it.