Farne Islands Shags

I visited the Farne Islands this week to photograph the amazing seabird spectacle. This is the time of year when most species have chicks to feed, so the place is full of activity as adults provision their hungry offspring with fish they have caught out at sea – or stolen from other seabirds. It’s possible to get very close to the action and the birds are habituated to human presence – there are hundreds of visitors a day. The main draw are the colourful puffins but the Farnes are an important breeding site for several other species too. Amongst these is the shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis), a close relative of the larger cormorant. With emerald-green eyes, bright yellow throats and gape, iridescent green breeding plumage and a distinctive crest, they are striking birds. The chicks are distinctly reptilian when they first hatch but develop into something more obviously avian over the course of the 8-odd weeks they spend at the nest.

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