Tuesday, 8 September 2015


Today is a sunny day and a good day perhaps for lying on the pebble beach at Salcombe Regis and watching cormorants for an hour or so.   They are fitting creatures for a Jurassic Coast - prehistoric monsters!  There are now eight birds on two tidebound rocks all facing into the breeze, Not one of them wants to go for a swim.   Not one of them wants to make the famous cormorant cross.  The sea is choppy but not rough and the breeze is strengthening.

Half an hour ago there was a fair amount of activity.   Some of the birds were swimming and there was a coming and a going on the rocks. Some birds were apparently having fun pushing others into the sea like young men on the radeaux of Mediterranean resorts.   When the cormorants wanted to get back onto the high rocks most of them climbed up it foot by foot, each foot gained by a fluttering leap upwards,  but one or two arrived from the sea in full flight and landed on the top deck like helicopter pilots of the Royal Navy.   There has been little evidence of the birds catching fish.  If they were feeding they were doing so in a way that deceived the eye.  As soon as one gained the summit of a rock it spread its wings and shook them. Then for a short while it would stand still, spread-winged, the way that is expected of a cormorant.

Now though, there is no coming or going and no spreading of wings.  The birds are not moving. Watching them now is like watching grass growing.  For the last twenty minutes these eight cormorant have been about as lively as Antony Gormley's Iron Men.