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Like a shag on a rock

We’ve all heard the expression “to feel like a shag on a rock”, which means to feel completely isolated or on one’s own. However, for the Rock shag Phalacrocorax magellanicus, also known as the Magellanic cormorant, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Found along the coast of southern South America and the Falkland Islands, the Rock shag usually nests in colonies high on the ledges of steep cliffs in sheltered inlets.

Rock shag, Bleaker Island, Falkland Islands

Rock shag, Bleaker Island, Falkland Islands, image Discovery Planet

In the Falkland Islands, the Rock shag is sedentary and distributed across many of the islands from east to west. It usually builds its nest from fine seaweed, tussock grass and twigs and stems from diddle-dee heath. Nesting colony sizes can range from as few as three pairs to several hundred.

The Rock shag feeds close to shore by diving to a depth of around 5m to retrieve small fish. The similar Imperial cormorant shares the same environment but avoids direct competition with the Rock shag by feeding a little further out from the shore and diving deeper.

Rock shag nesting colony

Rock shag nesting colony, Falkland Islands, image Discovery Planet

Further reading: Atlas of the Breeding Birds of the Falkland Islands.


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