European juvenile Shag

European juvenile Shag – A rare surprise visit inland at a local lake

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The European shag or common shag is a species of cormorant . It breeds around the rocky coasts of western and southern Europe, southwest Asia and north Africa, mainly wintering in its breeding range except for the northernmost birds. In Britain this seabird is usually referred to as simply the shag.

This is a medium-large black bird 68 to 78 cm long and with a 95-to-110-centimetre wingspan. It is distinguished from the great cormorant by its smaller size, lighter build and thinner bill.

Habitat and Feeding

It feeds in the sea, and, unlike the great cormorant, is rare inland. It will winter along any coast that is well-supplied with fish.

The European shag is one of the deepest divers among the cormorant family.

They will eat a wide range of fish but their commonest prey is the sand eel.

In UK coastal waters, dive times are typically around 20 to 45 seconds, with a recovery time of around 15 seconds between dives, this is consistent with aerobic diving.

It breeds on coasts, nesting on rocky ledges or in crevices or small caves.