The Cormorant Colony


Staying on the shores of Lake Geneva on a campsite next to a nature reserve was quite a find. I could walk into the reserve in a matter of minutes to watch the enormous colony of cormorants gathered around a secluded part of the Dranse delta; the River Dranse flows into the lake. I’ve never seen so many of these birds together; there must have been hundreds of ’em.

They sat in the trees surrounding the river inlet, jabbering and squawking against the background of the not-too-distant Alps. There was constant movement – take offs were a regular occurence, the bird in question flapping and splashing in the water for roughly five wingbeats before being airborne.

Their frequent landings on water were equally fascinating, fast and elegantly accomplished. There was ongoing  movement and activity with birds diving and  surfacing, disappearing under the water and reappearing some  distance away. Keeping track of individual birds was a challenge!

My senses were treated to the smell of oily fish which hung around the colony; not pleasant but no doubt  nectar to the birds.

There were grebes too, closer to the lake, and again, in large numbers but nowhere near as many as there were cormorants. The grebes had a knack of rapidly swimming out of sight around a bend to a densely bushy area near the water as soon binoculars or a camera appeared; the cormorants, apparently not camera-shy, just carried on as if no-one was watching!

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