In April 2011, I once again arrived on the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge to start another season of seabird research working with PRBO Conservation Science. In my seventh and perhaps last season, I decided to start a photo a day challenge for myself. The challenge is to share a new and interesting photo for each day I am on the island this year.
There are other cormorants on the island besides Brandt's Cormorant. I tend to forget that sometimes. This is one of the other common cormorant species, the Pelagic Cormorant. Distinguished from Brandt's by their white rump patches, skinnier neck, red face, and beautiful purple iridescence on their neck. These are cliff dwelling birds, building their nests on small ledges on the cliff faces and leaving the flat areas to the Brandt's. Pelagics out here tend to have a boom or bust breeding cycle: they either do really well, or fail completely, very little in between. They started laying late this year, like many species, and numbers are low but they seem to be sticking around.