If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title

About Me

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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

02 August, 2010

Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)

I am often asked what the difference is between a Cormorant and a Shag and the simple answer is that there are many differences when you see them close up and side by side!

From a distance they are much harder to separate, the Shag being a bit smaller and having darker colouring all over.

However, the best guide, and a pretty reliable one too, is to say Cormorants like sandy areas off shore or inland seas, rivers and large lakes whereas the Shag is very much a bird of the cliffs and open sea.

If you see a bird diving in sandy Swanage Bay, for example, it will be a Cormorant, but round Peverell Point and head along the Purbecks coast and they will almost certainly then be Shag. Take care, though, whilst a good guide it does not always work! Shag can be seen in Poole Harbour sometimes, especially in the winter months.