Little Cormorant – an uncommon migrant

posted in: Migration-Migrants | 2

“My wife was kind enough to accompany me today on a search for Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) nesting sites (nesting not seen locally for >35 years). We covered 150km of dirt roads and villages in the south-east of the region we live in. We were not successful but had some other good observations.

“The Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger) is common in some of the countries that OBI bird watchers belong to but is a rare migrant locally (above, below). The ‘Checklist of the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia’ rate it as “Rare and localized – One or two sites where there is a slim chance of recording it.”

“Today my wife and I saw between 10-12 migratory birds in one extended wetlands location (above, below). Our attention was first attracted by a pair of Whimbrels (Numenius phaeopus) who led us to other migratory waders and then the Little Cormorants. We initially saw two, then another group of thee and finally another seven in flight together. We do not think they were the same birds and are of the opinion that there were 10-12 birds present.

“All the birds we saw were adults. Some had a metallic blue sheen to the tail and wings (below). Not seen this mentioned in the local literature and wonder if this is left over from breeding plumage?

“We had opportunities to watch the classical feeding method (diving).

“Of interest was a prolonged episode of kleptoparasitism by a Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) (above). For some reason one Little Cormorant was foraging in the shallower section of the pond. The Little Egret would follow it and attempt to take the fish whenever the Little Cormorant surfaced with prey. This went on for quite awhile until they passed out of our sight. (NB: Kleptoparasitism – a form of feeding in which one animal takes prey or other food from another that has caught it; a.k.a. ‘stealing’)

“Other recent migration records I am aware of:
1. In 2012 Connie Khoo, Eve Tung & I saw a single bird for an extended migration period (2012-2013) in the Tambun Interior ex-mining pool area, Ipoh, Perak.

2. In 2011 Lim Kim Chye & Lim Swee Yian saw a single bird in Taiping, Perak.

3. In 2009 sighting at Marang River, Terengganu (Source: Malaysian Nature Society-Bird Conservation Council Records Committee, 2000-2013).

4. In 2007 & 2009 sightings in Langkawi, Kedah as well as 2007 in Bidor, Perak (Source: A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore by Allen Jeyarajasingam).

5. Prior records from Wells 1999 support a “handful of sightings on the Malaysian West-Coast..” in the 1980s.”

Datin, Dr Swee-Im Lim & Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
10th August 2013

Location: South-East Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Wetlands and Padi (rice) fields

2 Responses

  1. That’s an interesting report of kleptoparasitism. It surprised me a little as the Little Egrets I’ve watched around Melbourne seem too active to need this. I have seen a Great Egret probably try to scare off both a Little Egret and White-faced Heron when all were fishing in the same area.

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